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Fiction passed off as history

Posted by Richard on November 15, 2012

NBC Nightly News had an interview tonight with Doris Kearns-Goodwin, author of the Lincoln biography on which the Spielberg film is based. Here’s all you need to know about Kearns-Goodwin: in the interview she drew parallels between a brave Lincoln, shortly after his re-election, fighting to get the 13th Amendment through Congress and Obama, shortly after his re-election, fighting to “save us from the fiscal cliff.”

Actually, Thomas DiLorenzo thinks that’s not all you need to know about Kearns-Goodwin. He has more, starting with a reminder that she’s an admitted plagiarist:

… Goodwin the court historian has devoted her life to writing hagiographies of the worst of the worst political bullies – FDR, Lyndon Johnson, the Kennedys, and Lincoln. (It was her book on the Kennedys that got her in trouble and forced her to admit plagiarizing dozens of paragraphs, and paying a six-figure sum to the victim of her plagiarism. That got her kicked off the Pulitzer prize committee and PBS, but only for a very short while).

DiLorenzo thinks there’s also more you need to know about her book, Team of Rivals, the film Lincoln, and President Lincoln. I’ll give you a hint. He’s not a fan of any of them. Item one: the story that Lincoln fought to get the 13th Amendment passed (a centerpiece of Kearns-Goodwin’s book and the Spielberg film) is utterly false, according to David H. Donald, “a longtime Harvard University historian, Pulitzer prize-winning Lincoln biographer, and the preeminent mainstream Lincoln scholar of our time.” RTWT.

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3 Responses to “Fiction passed off as history”

  1. Rick Shultz said

    Hi Richard, I hope this finds you well. I am very glad I did not waste my money or my time on this movie or on Team Of Rivals. I knew it was mostly fiction simply because most books about Lincoln are fiction written by Yankee historians. (For which read propagandists) What I did not know was that it was plagiarized to boot. Reading your blog is usually at least mildly entertaining and, occasionally, comes in handy. Had I not read this, I probably would have wasted money on the book. I am happy to see that you have aquainted yourself with Dr. DiLorenzo’s work. For those who are not familiar with Dr. DiLorenzo, he taught history a few years back at the University of Tennessee at theChattanooga Campus during which time I corresponded with him a little bit, and is the author of a number of decent books a couple of which are about Lincoln. In addition to “Lincoln’s Greatest Failure” which Richard has linked to, Dr. DiLorenzo also wrote “Lincoln The Racist”, and a book that I am particularly fond of titled “The Real Lincoln”, A New Look At Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. For those of you wish to read some of Dr. Dilorenzo’s work on Lincoln, I would suggest strongly that you read “The Real Lincoln” first, as it is a more general work on Lincoln that is specifically designed to de-bunk all of the Lincoln Myths that have become entrenched in the literature about him. Most Lincoln works unfortunately portray him as some great, sainted, benign historical figure who saved the country from the “wicked” South and preserved the union. In reality, he was a terribly flawed and unscrupulous politician who cared only about his mercantilist, centralist political agenda, and pursued it to the exclusion of everything else including, unfortunately, the constitution. So a word of caution here is in order, because if you read this book you are in for a rather rude awakening because the book does indeed describe the REAL Abraham Lincoln and you need to be ready to have everything you thought you “knew” about Lincoln turned upside down. Sorry I didn’t mean to write a book review here, but I do know Dr. DiLorenzo slightly
    and he is an EXCELLENT scholar especially on the subject of Lincoln.

  2. Richard said

    Thanks, Rick. Minor correction: the plagiarism was in Kearns-Goodwin’s book about the Kennedys, not Lincoln.

    • Rick Shultz said

      Sorry Richard, I realized after I had posted that I had misread part of what I saw in that link. It was in her book on the Kennedys that she comitted that particular “oops”.
      It doesn’t do much for her credibilty in the rest of her work though.

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