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

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,564 ratings  ·  182 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
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 2nd 2003 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2002)
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Porter Broyles There is no simple answer to this question.

During the ratification of the Constitution it is clear that many people posited the notion that they could…more
There is no simple answer to this question.

During the ratification of the Constitution it is clear that many people posited the notion that they could withdraw from the Union should individuals states choose to do so. However, unlike the Articles of Confederation, which included such a clause, the Constitution did not provide one.

It should be noted that the Civil War was not the first time serious efforts to secede had been tried---The Harford Convention, the Whiskey Rebellion, a small uprising led by Aaron Burr in the west, and the Nullification Crisis are justa few of the examples prior to the Civil War of secession attempts.

In her excellent book, Disunion>, Elizabeth Varon discusses several ways in which the word "Disunion" was used during the first half of the 18th century. Again, a clear indication that many saw secession as a viable option--even if not clearly stated in the Constitution.

The Civil War ended up resolving two issues: Slavery and the Right to Secede.

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 ·  1,564 ratings  ·  182 reviews

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Oct 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
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,
Christopher Saunders
Dec 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2007, history
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
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
Oct 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
G.M. Burrow
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Britton Grier
Mar 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Tim Renshaw
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, owned
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 some kind of racist. It is a shame that I need to even add in this caveat, but such are the current state of affairs in our politi ...more
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Kathy Brown
Sep 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: civil-war, 2013
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
Monica Perez
Jan 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: recommended
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.
Porter Broyles
Before I present my I review, I think it is important to tell you where I stand on Lincoln:

Lincoln's image and reputation are enhanced because of the final accomplishment of the Civil War. At the end of the war, he successfully freed the slaves and became an instant martyr. People's memories of him thus recall the best while forgetting his questionable actions. Don't get me wrong, he was undoubtedly one of the best and most important presidents we ever have. He was a shrewd politician who was of
Oct 07, 2010 rated it liked it
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
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
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
David Robins
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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
Bliss Tew
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Joshua Horn
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jeff Shelnutt
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
DiLorenzo dares to touch one of America’s sacred cows. There is an astonishingly number of books about Lincoln (some 15,000). And I would venture to say the vast majority exalt the man, especially if they are consistent with the image I was fed in school. The author sets forth to de-mythicize the legends, to present Lincoln using Lincoln’s own words and actions.

So I’m sure for the simple reason that this book was definitely more of a critique than an endorsement of the man, DiLorenzo came under
Will Ridenour
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for folks who like history. DiLorenzo is an economist who teaches at a Maryland University, and a civil war history buff. His research on the war prompted him to write this. It tells of the real reasons the war was started and depicts ,what he claims to be, the honest, unexaggerated or omitted portrait of Abe Lincoln: A man who was apathetic about slavery at best and more concerned with consolidating government power.

From his presidential debate speeches ( that were loa
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.

Karl Marx sent Linc
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Civil war buffs/history buffs
Shelves: history
An excellent read. They should teach stuff like this in high school (that'll be the day, right?). Lincoln here is portrayed as he was - a flawed character and the natural evolution of Hamiltonians/Whigs along with their goals of centralization. This book paints the rolling snowball of government centralization as starting as soon as Lincoln "won" the war. State sovereignty and the constitution never quite meant the same thing after the Civil War. The smokescreen of slavery has been thoroughly de ...more
Edward Welsch
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book of revisionist history that takes down one of the most revered and mythologized American leaders, Abraham Lincoln. The book shows how at its outset the Civil War was chiefly an economic and political struggle between the northern manufacturing states and the southern agrarian exporting states, and that slavery was added as a moral justification only after the conflict was well underway. Lincoln, who was a lawyer and lobbyist for America's largest corporation before he w ...more
Todd Kruse
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jon Beadle
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Although I was initially skeptical of what DiLorenzo might bring to the table by way of contrarian positions, those former illusions faded away page by page, citation by citation.

The brilliance of this book is to use an eye for economics to expose the Lincoln-cult of historians who seem to prop up Lincoln as the great liberator he was, even celebrating his "Dictator" ways, commitment to Whig mercantilism, and obvious use of Jeffersonian rhetoric while fully negating Jeffersonian principles in fa
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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.
“Tocqueville was correct in his rendition of how the Constitution was formed, but he likely never dreamed that an American president would ever send an invading army to kill some 300,000 of his own citizens in order to destroy the right of secession, a right that all of America's founding fathers held as sacrosanct and that was at the very heart of the American system of government.” 4 likes
“Woodrow Wilson would write approvingly in his 1908 book, Constitutional Government in the United States, that “the War between the States established… this principle, that the federal government is, through its courts, the final judge of its own powers.” 26 This was the Jeffersonians’ greatest fear. Thanks to Lincoln's war, states’ rights would no longer perform its most important function: protecting the citizens of the states from federal judicial tyranny.” 1 likes
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