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Publisher's Summary

David M. Potter's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Impending Crisis is the definitive history of antebellum America. Potter's sweeping epic masterfully charts the chaotic forces that climaxed with the outbreak of the Civil War: westward expansion, the divisive issue of slavery, the Dred Scott decision, John Brown's uprising, the ascension of Abraham Lincoln, and the drama of Southern secession. The Impending Crisis remains one of the most celebrated works of American historical writing.

©1976 Estate of David M. Potter (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"David M. Potter's magisterial The Impending Crisis is the single best account to date of the coming of the Civil War." ( Civil War History)

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What listeners say about The Impending Crisis

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great History Book

There is much detail on the nature and structure of the sectional crisis in the years between Mexico and Fort Sumter.

Missouri Compromise, Kansas-Nebraska, demise of the Whigs, ascendancy of the Republicans, and the ambitions of the South explained.

Finally, you get a very detailed explanation of the 1860 election that led to Lincoln and why that was so alarming to the South.

This is a quality history book.

18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Not a primer, but will answer all your questions

I have been trying to make sense of the run-up to the Civil War for many years, but every book leaves so many tantalizing questions unanswered. What happened to the Missouri Compromise? How did the Whig Party fall apart? Where did the Republican Party come from all of the sudden? Were Presidents Pierce and Buchanan really as bad as everyone says? Was Chief Justice Roger Taney of the Dred Scott decision as backward as he is typically depicted? This books answers these and many other questions with clarity and in great detail.

Because of the detailed approach, I would not recommend this book for someone just beginning to learn about the Civil War and preamble. There are broader and more concise surveys that would be better to start with. But if you have gotten to the point where you are asking questions, this book is perfect.

17 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

the best book on this period, still

written many years ago, but it is stil by far the best on the subject

8 people found this helpful

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Great book, OK audiobook

Read and loved the book years ago and thought the audiobook would add to my understanding of the era. Not that the narration was bad but I was easily distracted. Subject material just lends itself better to print instead of listening, at least that was the case for me.

7 people found this helpful

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Well written with appropriate detail

The book was very well written and very easy to read. The author did not get bogged down in unnecessary details and managed to weave together a compelling storyline. It was also one of the more balanced history books I have read, which I appreciated given the weight of the subject matter.

2 people found this helpful

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A Slog for Sure

While the book has several interesting points to make about the factors that lead the Antebellum U.S. to Civil War, its narrative is weak at best. There is tenuous cohesion between chapters, themes and its chronology often doubles back on itself confusingly. It's as if the authors stitched together a number of academic essays with the common thread of "Impending Crisis" woven throughout. These essays often digress into pedantry that distracts from the whole. maybe this was meant for history buffs who aren't interested in a narrative of these years and are instead looking for an granular (if disjointed) analysis.
Despite my strong interest in the subject, I felt like I was not the intended audience for this book - even more so as this book doesn't seem to be an effective audiobook. Too many digressions and unexplained references. I finished it, yes, but it was a slog for sure.

20 people found this helpful

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Excellent account of history

The civil war was fought over slavery, this book makes that fact crystal clear. I'm grateful to the author (and editor) for bequeathing all of us this mountain of evidence.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Best, most essential Pre-Civil War Book Available

Answering the "why" question regarding the underpinnings of our Civil War remains controversial. For over 160 years, it remains a point of great disagreement among scholars, history buffs, and regular folks. It still comes up in "woke" dialogue discussion circles--both in social media outlets and in coffeehouse discussions--when debating present-day racial and other controversial social issues.

Was the war caused by our Founding Fathers failure to address it head-on in our Constitution? Or was it something else? Did it start because something happened 40 or 50 years after our republic was founded? Or was it a vacuum--indeed, a perfect storm--of poor leadership at the federal level. This scholarly book is a very solid attempt to answer such questions. It provides historical context and analysis and explains what the great minds of the day were thinking.

The book is very detailed and can be overwhelming. But don't let that scare you from passing on it. The narration can be a little slow--just speed it up a little--and it is fine. But is is content that is king here. This book has it. 5 stars here.

1 person found this helpful

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loved the history, had to speed up the narration.

Filled with great history! Very well written. The narrator was way too slow! I look forward to reading more of his books.

2 people found this helpful

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fantastic!

so good! loved it! perfect before diving into a civil war book! learned so much and narration was fantastic