Preview: Thomas Fleming, “A Disease in the Public Mind”

21 06 2013

9780306821264_p0_v1_s260x420The questions of what “caused” the American Civil War and whether the conflict was avoidable or inevitable has spawned countless books and articles, running the gamut from balderdash to convincing, but none of which I would say settle those questions fully and finally. Prolific author Thomas Fleming takes a crack at it in A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War, from Da Capo Press. Reviews have been mixed at best, and pretty gnarly at worst. In a nutshell, Fleming argues that the conflict was the outcome of deep-seated sectionalism that predated the founding of the nation. Extremist, abolitionist thinking in the north perhaps even caused a pervasive fear of slave revolt in the south. No bibliography is provided, and notes are heavy with secondary sources.

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6 responses

21 06 2013
Robert Moore

Hmmmm… sounds like nothing new to consider in this one, especially with nothing more than secondary sources.

21 06 2013
Ron Baumgarten

I think I will not be adding this one to my ever-expanding reading list. I am always suspicious of a book without a bibliography.

21 06 2013
Harry Smeltzer

I’m thinking we’ll be seeing more of the exclusion of bibliographies from printed books.

21 06 2013
Robert Moore

I’ve seen the exclusion of footnotes/endnotes on the rise (and as much of a pain in the rear as they are to include, they are a fountain of supplemental information if done well), but without a bibliography… especially with books that are meant to address historical matters… I’d say you have to begin to question the sustainability of credibility of the presses that release those books. That’s not an academic thing, it’s just better practice.

21 06 2013
mitchell werksman

No bibliography means not for would have to get rave reviews to warrent a look

21 06 2013
Harry Smeltzer

Hi Mitchell,

In fairness to Mr. Fleming, I’m not sure how much input authors have these days when it comes to whether or not a bibliography gets included.


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