A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War

Paperback | June 3, 2014

byThomas Fleming

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In this riveting, character-driven history, one of our most respected historians traces the diseases in the public mind—the distortions of reality—that destroyed George Washington's vision of a united America and inflicted the tragedy that still divide's the nation's soul.

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In this riveting, character-driven history, one of our most respected historians traces the diseases in the public mind—the distortions of reality—that destroyed George Washington's vision of a united America and inflicted the tragedy that still divide's the nation's soul.

Thomas Fleming is a distinguished historian and author of more than fifty books. A frequent guest on PBS, A&E, and the History Channel, Fleming has contributed articles to American Heritage, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, and many other magazines. He lives in New York City.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:June 3, 2014Publisher:Da Capo PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0306822954

ISBN - 13:9780306822957

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Editorial Reviews

Praise for A Disease in the Public Mind"Lincoln would have liked this brilliant book. It lights a path through history to his great goal: an America united by understanding and forgiveness."—Charles Bracelen Flood, author of 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History"For a different take on the Civil War...Thomas Fleming is a delightful and provocative historian."—Washington Times"A sweeping work"—Civil War Book ReviewKirkus Reviews, March 2013“[A] thesis-driven tour.” Booklist, 4/1 “The prolific Fleming, for decades a fixture among American historians, pinpoints public opinion as the proximate origin of the warMaking a plausible presentation of antebellum attitudes and illusions, Fleming is sure to spark lively discussion about the Civil War.” Publishers Weekly, 3/18“[Fleming is] always a quirky, contrarian writer-historian.”What Would the Founders Think?, 4/10/13“An interesting and readable book. In the course of Fleming’s narrative he casts light on some little discussed related events.”Roanoke Times, 4/26/13“A thoughtful examination of the root cause of that costly conflagration that interrupted the lives of the entire nationFleming’s trademark as an historian is his ability to tell a story without interjecting his bias or his own opinions, unless they are supported by facts. In this book, Fleming continues that tradition of professional observationFleming’s story about our ‘disease in the public mind’ is the very essence of good history.”Library Journal, 5/1/13“Controversial.”New York Journal of Books, 5/7/13“Do we really need another book about the Civil War? Mr. Fleming makes a solid, compelling case in the affirmative. His narrative weaves new threads through this seminal event in American history. Through his exposition of largely ignored events he affords us a clearer, much more succinct picture of antebellum AmericaFleming’s scholarship digs further into the prevailing Southern and Northern attitudes and mores of the period to draw into sharper relief the more widespread concerns, political and public, behind the Civil WarCertainly this book will provoke controversy of some manner, but we can ill afford to take as gospel truth what has typically been passed off as general historyA Disease in the Public Mind is not simply a thoughtful read, it is another call never to forget our sordid past, to face and conquer our fears.”Wall Street Journal, 5/25/13“A great deal of fine scholarshipMr. Fleming more than supports his argumentsWell-researched and well-written[A] superbly revisionist book.”American History, August 2013“Thoughtful and provocativeThe prewar arc of divisive national self-destruction he describes looks eerily, unhappily familiar today.” ForeWard, Summer 2013“Extremely captivatingTies together disparate people and events in revealing waysFascinating and entertaining.” Philadelphia Tribune, 5/23/13“Makes a convincing case that the polarization that divided the North and South and led to the Civil War began decades earlier than most historians are willing to admitA Disease in the Public Mind is an attempt to offer understanding and forgiveness for both sides of a war the continues to challenge the country’s founding principles of liberty and equality.” Garden Grove Journal, 5/23/13“[Fleming’s] research is excellentThis book presents an interesting perspective on the Civil War and its causes that is a clear departure from most of the literature on that subject.” Huffington Post, 8/27/2013“With myth destroying zeal and careful research Fleming contends that a fanatical sense of moral superiority on the part of the abolitionists, an irrational fear of a race war by Southerners abetted by sinister political posturing, and a deeply biased media were the prime motivating factors in a war that by far surpassed the casualties of all wars combined since America was foundedFleming delves deeply into the hate and alarm engendered by both sides.”Collected Miscellany, 2/17/2014“A fascinating look at the causes of the Civil WarFleming makes a convincing argument that the fringe elements (fanatics in his words) in both regions pushed the country toward a civil warAny fan of Civil War history would enjoy this engaging and enlightening take on the causes of the Civil War.”The Colonial Dames of America Annual Book Award WinnerRoanoke Times (Va), 3/23/14“Fleming’s emphasis on slavery politics, rather than military operations, presents a book that will stir lively debate.”Villadom Times (NJ), 3/19/14“Read this book if you want to understand America as a reality and not as a collection of myths.”Harvard Bookstore, Best Sellers List, 9/5/14Sturbridge Times Magazine, December 2014“An exploration of how we got from slavery’s introduction to the fratricidal conflict. It is also somewhat of a history of the nation up to that point, as the two are not separableIt is detailed in its exploration of slavery and the impact of the peculiar institution on the development of the United States and is a wonderful resource.”