Posted by Peter W. Schramm
The current Claremont Review of Books carries my review of two books on Frederick Douglass.
Yes, I read that in the magazine and sputtered my mouthful of tea all over it and myself when you skewered one of the authors for incompetence. Thank you.
I agree the Peter Myers book is excellent, and I agree the idea that "natural law" as self enforcing is odd and not well explained.
What I don't understand is why you write a negative review of John Stauffer's book when you think James Oakes's book is superior (even if there was a previous Claremont review of that book--was there one?). I simply wonder why you didn't write about Oakes's book instead of Stauffer's. You spend time saying Stauffer's book is not that good, but it diminishes the argument in favor of Myers's book.
The upshot is that your review is divided against itself when it is a review that presents a particular aspect of Lincoln as a part of a general series of articles about Lincoln.
But I'm being too harsh. It was a good article regardless of my quibble.
A review that says a book is not so good, and explains why, is very useful to a reader who would read just about anything that looked interesting at first sight - like me. I have seen the Stauffer book on my library's new book shelf and was interested in it, and would have taken it out when I had time. Now I will track down the Oakes book, when I have time to read about this, rather than waste my time on the other.
I liked the Meyers, too. I do not remember having a problem with that matter of Douglass on natural law. Well, I have just confessed to having a problem with indiscrimination. But if natural law is natural, why wouldn't it eventually be the ground a turbulent political nation fell to?
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