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02.23.01 : Fleming, Thomas, A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War, published in 2013 by Da Capo Press.

Notes Concerning the Author.

Thomas Fleming (1927 –     ) is an historian and historical novelist, with a special interest in the American Revolution.  He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of a World War I hero who was a leader in Jersey City politics for three decades.  Before her marriage, his mother, Katherine Dolan Fleming, was a teacher in the Jersey City Public School System.  After graduating from St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, Fleming spent a year in the United States Navy.  He received a Bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Fordham University in 1950.

After brief stints as a newspaperman and magazine editor, he became a full-time writer in 1960.  His first history book, Now We Are Enemies, an account of the Battle of Bunker Hill, was published that same year. It was an instant success.  Since then, Fleming has published numerous books about events and figures of the Revolutionary era.  Over his long and productive career (he is now 86) he has also written about other periods of American history, and has published more than 20 novels, including several best-sellers, set against various historical backgrounds.


This review is being presented by Howard Ray White, the author of Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed.  The Bloodstains series consists of 4 volumes, allowing the reader to live the history.  “Living that history” takes a lot of time, although irreplaceable in the value gained.  The alternative to such a commitment is to read Thomas Fleming’s book.  Here you come to understand the “Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War” through an abbreviated encounter.  Readers who want a broader view and more epic treatment of the subject can go to Bloodstains.

You will find that, in A Disease of the Mind, you are being told that the overriding emotion in the North was grave Puritanical concerns about the sin of owning slaves and how that had been corrupting the minds and souls of Southern people, especially the political and economic leaders, and why the North needed to do something about that, as in a crusade.  In a corresponding fashion, you are being told that the overriding emotion in the South was grave concern about a potential insurrection by slaves, somewhat on the scale of the insurrection that had occurred in what is now Haiti.  Unfortunately, the emphasis on these two emotions, although present in the history of the times, is given far too much weight in comparison to the other emotions and issues that eventually gave rise to secession and an invasion by the North.  So, read this work to gain understanding of these two emotions, but look elsewhere to learn of the other, more important emotions that were driving the history of that era.

A detailed review of A Disease of the Mind . . . was recently presented by Thomas J. DiLorenzo and published at Lew on July 13, 2013.  That review can be easily accessed through the internet.  Of this book, DiLorenzo writes:

“Northern hatred for Southerners long predate their objections to slavery.  Abolitionists were convinced that New England, whose spokesmen had begun the American Revolution, should have been the leaders of the new nation.  Instead, they had been displaced by Southern ‘slavocrats’ like Thomas Jefferson. . . .  Fleming contends that the real reason for the war — and for why, of all the nations on earth, only the U. S. associated war with the ending of slavery — was twofold: First, there was the extreme ‘malevolent envy’ of Southerners by the New England ‘Yankee’ political class, who had long believed that they were God’s chosen people and they should rule America, if not the rest of the world.  Second, there were a mere 25 or so very influential New England abolitionists who had abandoned Christianity and even condemned Jesus Christ, while embracing the mentally insane mass murderer John Brown as their ‘savior.’  This is part of the ‘disease in the public mind’ that is the theme of Fleming’s book.”

On the back of the book cover we find another review worth noting:

“Thomas Fleming sets one to thinking, as all good books should do.  A master storyteller and a wise and eloquent wordsmith, he has produced a disturbing chronicle of the national malady that led to fatal division [and war] .”

Availability of this Book.

Just published in 2013, Fleming’s book can be obtained as a new print book, as a Kindle e-book and as an audio book.  We suggest Amazon or a book store.