K's Reviews > The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War

The Real Lincoln by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
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's review
Oct 13, 2010

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Read from October 07 to 13, 2010

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 more realistic portrayal. While, as you will note in my review below from a week ago, there are some obvious problems in his some of his arguments, a dissenting opinion can help bring to light some of our unrealistic expectations of our heroes. It is important to see them realistically so that we can realistically learn from them, not just their high points but their low points, too.


I am not finished with it but I wanted to capture some of my thoughts before I forget them. This is a very interesting look into what Lincoln really stands for. It is quite accepted that he was racist, like much of his generation, but I didn't realize he supported mercantilism. It is also widely known that he suspended habeas corpus for the duration of the war but I didn't realize how many political prisoners were arrested without a trial. It is better to have a real understanding of our heroes, their flaws can teach us as much as anyone.

I do have a couple problems with the book, besides its bias (which nearly all books have some bias), he seems myopic. He totally washes over the fact that the problem of slavery began with the Founding Fathers. Preferring to get the Constitution ratified than fight over the issue of slaver, the 3/5s compromise was established. Had Northern states relented and allowed all slaves to be counted, there would have been a precedent for them to be citizens, though obviously Southern states wanted to use slaves to bolster their numbers in a similar way to jerrymandering and other sorts of shenanigans. This compromise set the tone for the next century. Glossing over this makes Lincoln and his generation look like the culprits when really these were long standing problems.

Another issue I have with the book is the contradiction when it comes to the author's stance of slavery vs secession. In one section he talks about the war being unnecessary because other countries ended slavery peacefully. Then he talks about Lincoln not wanting to end slavery. But then he supports the South's right to secession because they were afraid Lincoln would end slavery, and yet he already presented evidence that Lincoln wasn't going to do so. He then says slavery was on its way out (it probably was) based on the fact that other countries were ending it and most Southern citizens were not slave holders. Then he says it was artificially held in place because of the Fugitive Slave Act which he first makes it sound was unsupported in the North and then goes on to state that citizens in the North were as racist as those in the South and supported slavery. So which was it?
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