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Reviews

Sesquicentennial Sidelights

Despite all that has passed since, the war of 1861-65 arguably remains the central event of American history.  In proportion to population no other event equals it in mobilization, death, destruction, and revolutionary change.  We are into the Sesquicentennial, and one would like to think that Americans will take the opportunity to contemplate where we come from and who we are.

Not likely, it seems.  We will have instead an orgy of self-congratulation, regurgitation of old propaganda, blaming and guilt tripping, ludicrous comparisons with World War II, and an endless rehearsal of lucrative victimology over the “slavery” that ended more than a century and a half ago.

Historians and other commentators have expended a Great Lake of ink trying to explain the conspicuous deviation from the true American way represented by the Southern rebellion.  I have always thought that the Northern way is more in need of explanation and should receive more close attention.  It was the North that conducted a vicious war of invasion and conquest against other Americans, a thing previously unthinkable, and established an unprecedented regime of financial-industrial hegemony.  But the American public long ago absorbed completely the weird contradiction of the Gettysburg Address in which Lincoln’s war was sanctified, at one and the same time, as a preservation...

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