27 July 2009 by Published in: Neo-Confederate hooey 20 comments

Kevin Levin has a post on his blog today about a new book that looks like a finalist for 2009 Neo-Confederate grand champion. Thanks to Kevin for bringing this prize to my attention.

The reasons why this is both preposterous and shockingly offensive ought to be obvious. Then again, Pelican is known for publishing garbage (as this little gem proves), so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

So far, this is my leading candidate for 2009′s grand champion.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. dan
    Tue 28th Jul 2009 at 12:22 am

    Not having read this bizarre looking book it is difficult to entirely dismiss it. There are no reviews on Amazon as of yet as the thing has yet to be released. So, this post seems the classic “judging a book by its cover” situation. With all respect, Eric, this post seems premature. I understand how other less erudite and scholarly bloggers can dismiss this so easily but I wonder why you suggest here, without having read this fellow’s arguments, that this book is worthy of derision and dismissal. This seems an unfair treatment of this book. I have not read it, nor do I intend to. But, if you want to review the thing, then by all means review it. This seems an unfortunate bash on a book that neither you nor other less capable bloggers have read as the book is not released yet (October release). This is not meant as a slam on you but rather as a defense of this apparently bizarre book that may or may not merit attention from serious students of the war. If it is junk review it and tell us why it is junk. Of course, this would require reading the thing first. Judging a book by its cover seems an outmoded basis upon which to determine quality of scholarship.

  2. Mark Peters
    Tue 28th Jul 2009 at 3:24 am

    Dan,

    With all due respect, surely this is one case where you can judge a book by it’s cover. The title and subtitle clearly says it all! You’ve written, yourself, that you don’t intend to read it.

    I certainly won’t be parting with my money having seen the cover, and now read the synopsis on Amazon. This may seen unfair, but the cover is part of the sell … the initial hook. No doubt, the cover will appeal to some, as will the synopsis. I’m sure that the less broad-minded readers will enjoy the bigotry that neo-confederate authors still espouse; with the cover/synopsis being clearly targeted at that audience. From that, I believe, you can reach a subjective opinion on a book – and this one is clearly in bad taste.

    Best wishes,

    Mark

  3. Dave Powell
    Tue 28th Jul 2009 at 7:06 am

    Rather, judge the book by it’s publisher. Pelican has printed some remarkably stupid work – “The South was Right,” Jeff Davis was right” etc. Both of these, for example, are monstrous dreck, without the remotest hint of real scholarship. They are barely literate internet rants posing as published work.

    Ergo, given the info presented so far, you’d have to be the world’s most gullible consumer to try Lincoln Uber Alles.

    I know it sucks. And I don’t have to waste part of my life reading it to confirm what I already know…

    Dave Powell

  4. Chris Van Blargan
    Wed 29th Jul 2009 at 8:42 am

    Eric,

    The clear intent seems to be to link the Lincoln Administration to Nazi Germany through the 48ers. So the theme is not only Neo-Confederate, but also Neo-Know-Nothingism. The sensationalist attempt to equate the 48ers, who sought democratic reform in Germany through relatively peaceful means (compared to the French Revolution a half century earlier), and who supported abolition and egalitarianism in the United States as refuges, with the Nazis indicates to me that author’s “premise” relies more on racial stereotyping (all Germans are autocratic) than scholarship. Indeed, if anything, the uniform criticism of the German troops was that they were too secular and too liberal for the likes of their Anglo-Saxon Protestant leaders (Howard, Barlow, etc). Definitely not a book of interest.

    Chris Van Blargan

  5. dan
    Wed 29th Jul 2009 at 10:02 am

    I am finding this a fascinating thread. Why do people find it acceptable to comment on a book without having read it? Folks find the apparent premise of this book objectionable, so they trash it? This is bizarre. I found Mein Kampf revolting, but I read it before trashing it. This dismissal of a book because it appears to be a certain thing or appears to take a certain apparently unscholarly position is strange to me. I really don’t care about this book, as I have more than enough reading material on my plate. But, I also know that I am not qualified to trash it as I haven’t read it. This entire approach is not based on knowledge. For example, it is very popular to discuss the Koran and how peaceful it is. How many have read the Koran?
    I have read it, and it is NOT peaceful. I also would refrain from commenting on it without having read it first. So, why is it suddenly ok for historians to discuss books that they haven’t read? What is going on here?

  6. matthew mckeon
    Wed 29th Jul 2009 at 10:40 am

    dan,
    you didn’t think Mein Kampf might be err…untrustworthy? You know, based on the fact that Hitler wrote it? That it was the kind of book that revealed more about the author than the subject.

    This Lincoln book is like “Springtime for Hitler” only not funny. It’s the triple crown of crap: neoconfederate, hating the immigrants and a Godwin all wrapped in one.

  7. dan
    Wed 29th Jul 2009 at 11:05 am

    Matt,
    >This Lincoln book is like “Springtime for Hitler” only not funny.
    Since the book is not released yet you have not read it unless you have a proof copy. Do you have a proof copy?
    If you haven’t read the book, how can you make these statements about the book?
    This is my point.
    The “trustworthiness” of Mein Kampf, whatever that means, is not relevent. It is what it is. But I can’t comment on it from any position of knowledge without having read it.
    -Dan

  8. Ed Flanagan
    Wed 29th Jul 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Yes you can judge a book by it’s cover and the only missing from the cover off “lincoln Uber Alles” is Lincoln with a Hitlerian mustache and a brown shirt. It’s comical to make Lincoln into a 20th century totalitarian and to say so is a “RED FLAG” to any possible argument.

    At best these Keepers Of Odd Knowledge have their tin-foil hats on way too tight, but at worst they are danger to the Republic and should be called out as so! Boo! Hiss!

  9. Rick Allen
    Wed 29th Jul 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Dan, if you really think that the title has connotations, but what lies within it does not, ……….I really dont know what to tell you other than that Lincoln was a Nazi bastard.

    ?

  10. Dan
    Wed 29th Jul 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Rick,
    Your logic runs like this:

    Since Winston Churchill was a slob, heavy drinker, smoker, and user of profanities he must therefore be a rotten fellow; since Adolf Hitler was a tea-totaller, vegetarian, and loved his dog he must therefore be a fine fellow.

    Because President Obama has a Harvard education therefore he must be well-educated; and since Lincoln had no formal education he therefore must be ignorant and course.

    You are welcome to comment on any book’s cover that is your prerogative. However, your comments can only be based upon your opinions of the cover and expectations of what then must be inside the book.

    You haven’t read the book so you have no knowledge of the book’s contents and arguments or lack of same. My position is simple: read the book, then trash it. Or wait for others to do so, then discuss the trashing.

    Trashing a book based upon its cover seems an insubstantive approach to understanding the book. Just as dismissing Churchill for a slob, or Lincoln for a simpleton based solely on appearances and snap judgments are mistakes based on mistaken percpetions and incomplete knowledge, trashing a book without having read it seems a position that most would not rush to defend.

  11. Chris Van Blargan
    Thu 30th Jul 2009 at 8:29 am

    Dan,

    Your analogy falls flat. The author and/or publisher chose the title and cover to draw readers, and their clear intent was to link Lincoln and the Nazis through German-Americans. Is it possible the cover and synopsis on Amazon do not reflect the actual content of the book? Sure, and I for one hope this is the case. I would welcome a scholarly study of German-American support for the Union which examines the differences between old and new immigrants, the differences between Catholic, Protestant and secular, political refugees vs. economic immigrants, and urban vs. agrarian emigrants; whether the place of origin (Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, Alsace, etc.) determined political outlook; the impact of German pacifist sects on draft policy; etc. But based on the cover and synopsis, which the author and/or publisher chose to attract an audience, I don’t think we can expect anything like this, but rather, a stereotypical portrayal designed to support a controversial, sensationalist premise.

    Chris Van Blargan

  12. Dan
    Thu 30th Jul 2009 at 10:16 am

    Hi Chris,

    >Your analogy falls flat.

    How? I thought it quite illustrative.

    If a book is dismissed or slammed by critics who have not read it, or studied it, their dismissal is based upon incomplete information, heresay, and opinion – essentially a lack of knowledge on the subject at hand, the book being criticised. If a movie critic slammed a movie in print and it was discovered that the critic never saw the movie, the critic would be accused of fraud and would be fired, correctly so, too. Same should go for literary criticism.

    All of this discussion is entirely premature. If a critic has an opinion, the opinion must be validated by having read the book. Opinion based upon zero knowledge, and assumptions doesn’t seem to me to have much value.

    There can’t be any intellectual debate on this book because nobody has read it. The entire discussion is premature.

    This is not scholarship or intellectual discourse. This is an embrace of anti-knowledge and the supremacy of opinion over fact which I reject.

    Best Regards,
    Daniel

  13. Chris Van Blargan
    Thu 30th Jul 2009 at 11:24 am

    Dan,

    It really comes down to two questions: Are you worried that the book cover and synopsis do not accurately reflect the author’s premise, which might have some scholarly merit, or do you believe the cover and synopsis accurately reflect the author’s premise, but think the the author may have a convincing argument that Carl Schurz was a proto-Nazi who convinced Lincoln to suspend habeas corpus? I have conceded the possibility, however unlikely, that the cover and synopsis may not accurately reflect the contents. But in that case, you would have to agree the author and/or publisher deserve criticism for the misunderstanding. On the other hand, if your concern stems from the fact we have not given the perceived argument a chance, I have to agree with Eric, Mark and Dave.

    Chris Van Blargan

  14. Dan
    Thu 30th Jul 2009 at 11:33 am

    Hi Chris,

    Excellent points.
    You’ve essentially covered my concerns.

    I’ve read lots of books that had stupid covers but excellent content, and vice versa.

    My point is simple: As scholars and students we cannot make a legitimate case, pro or con, about a book without having read it.

    If you would like to argue this particular point, please proceed.

    Best Regards,
    Dan

  15. Gary
    Thu 30th Jul 2009 at 3:59 pm

    If I come home some night and find a paper bag on my porch I will probably look in the bag before I put it in the trash. However, if my doorbell rings some night and I find that bag on fire on my porch and two “utes” running down the sidewalk, I can be be pretty sure if I step on it my shoe will stink.

  16. Chris Van Blargan
    Thu 30th Jul 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Dan,

    Although I am highly skeptical, I can’t fault you for wanting to see if the content and cover match before passing judgment, but my guess is that, to use Gary’s analogy, you are going to need a new pair of shoes.

    On a side note, I might take the argument a little more serious if Lincoln was dealing with Prussian military professionals of von Moltke’s caliber rather than failed revolutionaries such as Siegel and Blenker. After all, most of the 48ers with military experience were here because they were not good enough at their trade to avoid becoming refugees — a fact Lincoln did not fully realize until early 1864.

    Chris Van Blargan

  17. Dan
    Thu 30th Jul 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Chris,

    With all respect, there is no “argument”.

    > I might take the argument a little more serious.

    There can’t be any argument around this book because nobody involved has read it.

    There is no spoon, Chris.

    Dan

  18. Thu 30th Jul 2009 at 11:36 pm

    @Gary

    That is similar to an analogy I like to use:

    I don’t have to eat a piece of s##t to know it doesn’t taste like a candy bar.

  19. John Foskett
    Sat 01st Aug 2009 at 11:31 am

    Dan:

    I’m interested in learning which worthwhile books you’ve read which had “stupid” covers. There’s more at work here, by the way – a publisher which has a track record of publishing neo-Confederate comic books in the guise of historical treatises and a title which suggests a ridiculous piece of ne-Confederate propaganda. Mein Kampf is a bad analogy. It has a great deal of historical value because the book itself played a significant role in history and is also a window into the mind of a madman who plunged the world into a global catastrophe and caused a civilized nation to engage in possibly the most horrific example of genocide ever.

  20. Chris Van Blargan
    Sun 01st Apr 2012 at 10:52 am

    I recently saw this book on amazon and was able to peruse the introduction to reconsider our previous debate which had centered on whether one could judge a book by its cover. Having now had the opportunity to read the author’s thesis, I can answer the question in the affirmative. Indeed, it is immeasurably worse than I had imagined.

    The author’s central theme is that the North was bent on establishing a centralized, totalitarian government over the South’s objections. To achieve this end, Lincoln relied on recent German emigres whom the author portrays as being uniformly Marxist and/or totalitarian in philosophy.

    Throughout the introduction, the author makes frequent comparison’s with the Kaiserreich under Bismarck and 20th Century Germany. For instance, the author claims that the North’s interest in slavery was nothing more than hypocritical pretext, as the North was, in the author’s words, engaged in a program of genocide against the Indians akin to the Holocaust. In this way, the author attempts to connect Lincoln with the Nazi’s through the German emigres by innuendo. Nevermind Carl Schurz’s stand on Indian affairs, and placement of blame on white speculators and frontiersmen who constantly enflamed relations.

    While I am willing to entertain reasonable arguments that the Civil War brought about a centralized government that was contrary to the intent of Founding Fathers like Jefferson, as well as rational debates whether or not such centralization was, as a matter of political philosophy, good for the country, this is clearly not the book to find either of these.

    Chris Van Blargan

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