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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe » User review

Continuing a vital work of reclamation

  • Dec 31, 2006
With this book, Thomas J. DiLorenzo continues his mission of taking a firehose to the feet of clay beneath America's martyr-saint. "Lincoln Unmasked" is an essential companion to the author's earlier The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, not only for additional evidence provided to support the historical revisionism, but also for his analysis of the "Lincoln Cult" -- historians and pundits on both the Right and the Left who see in Lincoln justification for their own centralizing agendas.

Taking on a nation's mythology is a serious undertaking, and Abraham Lincoln long ago ascended from the realm of human politician to that of mytho-poetic symbol and even Christ-figure. That makes dissenters like DiLorenzo not just historians with a different point of view, but Judas Iscariot or worse. I wrote in my review of "The Real Lincoln" and I'll say it again: I admire DiLorenzo for his willingness to withstand these assaults for the sake of truth as he sees it.

But the facts laid out in "Lincoln Unmasked" are more than just "truth as he sees it." They're aspects of Lincoln that his defenders not only refuse to confront, but deny even exist. So much easier to smear Father Abraham's critics as "neo-confederates" or even defenders of slavery than to square Lincoln's modern image with his actual words and deeds. (When I recommended "The Real Lincoln" in an online forum once, someone else discounted it as "a book John Wilkes Booth would love." I'm sure Booth loved fuzzy puppies too, but that doesn't mean I'm going to tie my pugs in a bag and throw them in the creek.)

DiLorenzo has a commitment to primary sources, and so those who would discount "Lincoln Unmasked" must also deal with the author's extensive and well-catalogued research. One of the things I've always appreciated about Mises Institute writers is their commitment, not only to bibliographies per se, but also to listing additional resources for interested students. DiLorenzo's appendix, "What They *Don't* Want You to Read," is itself valuable reading. As usual, I've come away with a list of books to add to my find-time-to-get-to pile.

Assaulting the Lincoln Lie is not an act of nihilist destruction. Instead, it's a radical ("to the root") effort to reclaim America's *original* founding story, the one Lincoln himself so hated: an America that emphasized local communities, free trade, voluntary associations, decentralized government, sound economics, peace and freedom. It's one thing to say we may never recreate such a nation, but something else -- something far worse -- to insist we must deny it ever existed. That's what makes "Lincoln Unmasked" both so brave and so important.

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Andrew S. Rogers ()
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In this laughable screed, a senior fellow at the libertarian/free market Ludwig von Mises Institute charges that most scholars of the Civil War are part of a "Lincoln cult" and determined to fool the American public into thinking that our 16th president was a hero. At the root of the author's loathing of Lincoln is an ideological commitment to states' sovereignty, a doctrine largely undone by the Civil War. DiLorenzo believes that the centralized nation-state that emerged after the war is incompatible with true democracy. His supposed revelations–-that Northerners owned slaves into the 19th century; that Lincoln advocated the relocation of black Americans to Liberia; that Lincoln did not, at the outset of the war, aim to end slavery—are well known to anyone who has read one of the many recent books on Lincoln. But Lincoln is not DiLorenzo's real target; he saves his most vitriolic bombast for the scholars who dominate American universities (most notably Eric Foner) and who, he charges, are "cover-up artists" and "propagandists." DiLorenzo accuses them of using their Lincoln mythology to advocate big government and other "imperialistic" and "totalitarian" policies. DiLorenzo accuses the "cultists" of having a political agenda. He may well be hoisted by his own petard.(Oct.)
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ISBN-10: 030733841X
ISBN-13: 978-0307338419
Author: Thomas DiLorenzo
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Publisher: Crown Forum
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