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The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  881 ratings  ·  128 reviews
A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War
Most Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest president in history. His legend as the Great Emancipator has grown to mythic proportions as hundreds of books, a national holiday, and a monument in Washington, D.C., extol his heroism and martyrdom. But what if most everything you knew about Lincoln
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Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 2nd 2003 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,914)
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Jim
Eleven chapters of, how shall I put this mildly, bovine waste.

This book was urged upon my by one who found it compelling. Finally, after a century and a half of myth-based pseudo-history propping up the image of "King Lincoln", he told me, comes Thomas J. DiLorenzo, an economist with a book exposing the "truth" about not-so-honest Abe.

I'll admit to skepticism. And I'll even admit that I had no real desire to read The Real Lincoln. Whenever I'm faced with a conflict between mainstream and fringe,
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zikafus
Everything you know about Lincoln is wrong... trust me.
This is another one of those books that takes a look at one of America's "heroes", tears off the mask of patriotic romanticism revealing a scoundrel beneath...
Lincoln was likely the worst President in United States history... sound insane? Read the book... you'll be left with zero complaints...
The Civil War initially had NOTHING to do with slavery (which would have been the only justifiable reason to wage it), it began, and was waged until
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Christopher
Why was the United States the only country in the world to fight a war to end slavery?

Because the war wasn't about slavery. Like all other wars, it was fought over money and power.

Lincoln, the American Hitler, was the man who single-handedly shredded the Constitution and fathered "Big Government."

The "Church of Lincoln" has distorted facts and history to paint a picture of Lincoln in total contradiction of his real self and motives.

Fortunately, this author demolishes these falsehoods with simple
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Christopher Saunders
History as ignorant rant. DiLorenzo portrays Lincoln as the peer of Hitler and Stalin, gleefully distorting history whether through misquotation, misrepresentation or outright lying. He claims, for instance, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave: he ignores that the Union controlled large swaths of the Confederacy by the time it was issued. The 13th Amendment, where slavery was permanently ended through legal, constitutional methods? Not mentioned once. He pretends the war is ...more
Mark
Disturbing book. The states had a right to secede from the union. This was accepted at the time. Constitutional amendments were proposed to prevent the right of secession. The right of secession is in fact a key to controlling the powers of a central government.

Lincoln entered the war without congressional approval, calling it a "rebellion". He blockaded the south, something that could only be done against a country with which we were at war. He suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus without approv
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Britton Grier
The central argument of the text is that Lincoln was acting unconstitutionally in waging war with the South (i.e. that states had the right to secede). For instance, in regards to the Emancipation Proclamation, DiLornenzo states it was a "war measure [...which] in reality, the president had no power to dictate such a thing to a state government." (p.37) If the southern states seceded (which all in the North and South admitted that they had as evidenced by the requirement that they accept amendme ...more
Nicholas
Some weeks back I was in an online discussion about good Lincoln biographies. The book that received the most mentions was The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, by Thomas DiLorenzo. Some brief internet searching revealed that the book is quite controversial and has been charged with gross distortion of history. Nevertheless, I was morbidly curious enough to read it myself.

DiLorenzo's stated goal is to get past the "myths" of Lincoln that he believes
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Nebuchadnezzar
Not so much a history or biography as an apologetic for the mythos of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. DiLorenzo is correct in arguing that Lincoln and the North in general were not virtuous and sinless moral crusaders. That cartoon history is the stuff of pop culture and grade-school history textbooks. DiLorenzo, though, uses this as a straw man to bat down as if it were actually representative of real historical scholarship, thus creating a classic false dichotomy in which Lincoln is either ...more
drake
Jan 15, 2009 drake rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not a soul.
Shelves: autobio-bio
Author Thomas DiLorenzo is a scholar at the League of the South Institute. He is also listed as an ideologue to watch out for on the Southern Poverty Law Center website. It seems to me the book is part of a body of "scholarship" whose ultimate goal is for the South to secede again, and possibly to return to its antebellum social structure. Although no author should be wholly disregarded based on ad hominem attack alone, these facts likely influence my view of the book.

It is not entirely worthles
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Jim
Sep 04, 2010 Jim rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
The book is worth reading, but it leaves you wishing that it had been written by an author more intent on fleshing out the scholarship than one interested in bashing Lincoln. What are the actual statistics on how much of U.S. revenue was supplied by tariffs? Maybe a graph to show how this was split between the North and the South would have been useful. Could the author have spent a bit more time fleshing out the background of the 'American System' favored by Lincoln and his sponsors? There are ...more
Monica Perez
I give it a three instead of a four because I found it somewhat sensationalistic but it really is a must read. From here you can conduct a more academic investigation but it helps you shake off the brainwashing of the history that was written by the winners.
K
2.5 Stars.

I find this to be the case with so many non-fiction books. They have a powerful start and then the book fades into repetition. About 170 pages in and I just couldn't go on. The first part of the book was fascinating, particularly focusing on the political climate and the events leading up to the Civil War. But he did such a good overview that by the time he got to really focusing on Lincoln, I felt like I had read it all before.

I will say that I enjoy seeing Lincoln brought down to a
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David Robins
DiLorenzo himself sums the book up well in his conclusion: "Despite an unspeakably bloody war, the demolition of constitutional liberties, and the conquest and subjugation of the South for twelve years after the war, Lincoln and his party still failed to completely destroy federalism and states' rights. Because the ideas were so ingrained in the American psyche, something of a revolt against centralized government authority occurred in the postwar years, personified by the presidency of Grover C ...more
Elena
"I have no interest to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races....I...am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary."

~Abraham Lincoln, 1858 from The Real Lincoln by Thomas J. DiLorenzo.

Every nation has its myths; we Americans certainly have our share. I think that national myths fulfill the purpose of making people feel better about ugly episodes in history, especially their own history. In
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Gwen Burrow
I've been critical of Lincoln for years, but this book shows (with meticulous research from the 18th and 19th centuries) just how much this man is to be condemned for his lies, his powermongering, and his tyranny. Historians have been stopping their ears to the truth for the past 150 years and more, and it's time to quit. It's time to remember our history, to know our Constitution, and to quit worshipping this beast of big government.
Monty
This book raises some very uncomfortable questions and attempts to provide solid, documented answers to them...
1) What was the real goal of the Whig Party and Henry Clay who were the lifetime "mentors" of Abraham Lincoln?
2) Why is it that of all the many nations which emancipated their slaves between 1790 and 1880, the United States was the only country to fight a Civil War, involving the deaths of over a million people, to do so?
3) Why was it that there were no less than four secession crisis b
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Kathy Brown
This book was one that I had to force myself to finish, which isn't usual for me. I have been reading books that give both favorable and critical assessments of historical figures in recent years in an effort to find a balanced view. While I make no claim to being a Civil War authority, I have been reading about this subject for a number of years and have found numberous questionable assertions in "The Real Lincoln", such as Lincoln wanted a war just so he could establish a strong central govern ...more
Tim Renshaw
I'm a conservative that loves the U.S. Constitution. Was it a perfect document? Nope. Its largest failing was on the issue of slavery. Hideous that to get all the original states to sign on that this had to be left to a future generation to fix... and it needed it fixed. There, that should hopefully lay aside the kneejerk reaction to what follows as being because I'm a racist. It is a shame that I need to even add in this caveat, but such are the current state of affairs in our politically corre ...more
John
This is DiLorenzo's first book on Lincoln, and is better than his second, Lincoln Unmasked. The historical context in this book is more complete than his other book. Lincoln and his legacy are highly esteemed, but DiLorenzo demonstrates that Lincoln's presidency were ruinous to the nation and left a legacy of centralized power, leaving the states and the people unable to check federal power.

Lincoln, rather than being the Great Emancipator, was the Great Centralizer. He was also a racist who wor
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Furb
I wrote a review in the style of a travelogue here: http://heathersharmony.typepad.com/he...

Just finished this. This was certainly an eye opener. I didn't know much more about Lincoln than what I'd been told about him in skew, um, I mean school. This cites a lot of different sources. Perhaps what I liked most was DiLorenzo's refutation of his detractors in the afterward. That made me laugh. The rest of it is, sadly, tragic history.

This was December 2011's Book of the Month, and the winner of the
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Bliss Tew
In 2008 I read this book. It's important that Americans take a hard look at the man behind the war that most changed America, the War Between the States, that so centralized power in the federal government. Lincoln, a Whig, then a Republican, was a believer in protectionism for his cronies in big business enterprises such as railroads. Understanding the fact that Secession was a "right" derived from the Declaration of Independence, but not an American Right recognized by Abraham Lincoln, sets th ...more
Christopher
This book made me want to blast Lincoln's face off of Mount Rushmore and desecrate his temple in Washington.

He was a politician, who held illogical and tyrannical ideas, and he enforced his ideas upon the nation by force of war.

He did more than any man to destroy the union of free and sovereign states that our Founding Fathers established.

He was a racist Hamiltonian, and not the God that our public schools and politicians teach us to worship.
Joshua Horn
A re evaluation of the traditional view of Lincoln as one of the greatest presidents in history, who preserved the union and freed the slaves. Instead we see him in his true character, racist and tyrant. Revealing and easy to read. I do think Dilorenzo does make some mistakes, not necessary in what he says, but in what he does not say. Although states rights were important, slavery did play a huge role in bringing the nation to wae
Nathan
The USA ceased to be a republic when Lincoln became president and became an empire.

Every nation in the world that had slaves freed them peacefully. The USA was the only one that had a war to do so. If what was spent on the war had been spent to free the slaves, each slave would have had enough to own 40 acres of land.

Lincoln was a white supremacist! 3 months after the treaty was signed with the south, he sent the army to wipe out the Sioux indians to make room for a railroad.

Kalr Marx sent Linc
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Jay
I decided to read this book on my trip through Presidential biographies specifically because it is from a negative viewpoint. Lincoln is almost unanimously ranked in the top three of American Presidents. Because of this, it is difficult to get a 360 degree picture of him. This book seeks to provide the other side of Lincoln.

Having taken college courses on the Supreme Court, I was already aware of the numerous examples of Lincoln overstepping his powers during the war. During the War on Terror, P
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Dustin
This book leaves no doubt in my mind that Lincoln is the worst president we have ever had. It is comedic reading through old history class books from grade school seeing just how misleading and downright wrong they are on the account of "honest" Abe.
Angela Wenell
A little repetitive, but very informative. Dilorenzo provides a factual presentation of history that strays from the idealistic and unrealistic views of Lincoln and the Civil War. While maintaining the abolition of slavery was a positive end result, Dilorenzo makes a compelling case that this end was not Lincoln's original mission but used as a means for his ultimate purpose of expanding government. Slavery could have ended peacefully, and was perhaps already in the process. But the lasting effe ...more
Sharon Wilbur
The fact that Lincoln did not fight the Civil War to end slavery is now common knowledge among Historians. It's amazing how History gets modified over time and this book points out many inconsistencies in what they taught about Lincoln, and delves into Lincoln's background and writing. Who knew Lincoln favored shipping all slaves back to Africa or Latin America? Who knew he supported legislation not to even let blacks settle in his state? DiLorenzo provides all sources in his endnotes. Sometimes ...more
Todd Kruse
I have often stated that the "truth is somewhere in the middle" regarding the study of history thus this book reminded me of how vital it is to read books from various perspectives of a subject. Since there is no shortage of "Lincoln saved the USA" biographies DiLorenzo's contrarian book which paints Lincoln as a dictator focused on centralizing power is an important read for historians.

Having read this book some basic questions come to mind:

1.) What if the southern states would have seceeded f
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Shea Mastison
This is one of those books, that you read, and instantly regret the boring, soul-sucking process of public "education." Lincoln is a figure that is easily more open to mythologizing, more than analyzing; primarily because he's vital to our popular culture narrative about ourselves. Today, our politicians speak of equality and fairness (state-mandated, of course) while completely abandoning the talk of personal liberty and individual accountability that defined us as a nation at our founding.

If
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Thomas James DiLorenzo is an American economics professor at Loyola University Maryland. He identifies himself as an adherent of the Austrian School of economics. He is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and an associated scholar of the Abbeville Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Virginia Tech.
More about Thomas J. DiLorenzo...
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