The New York Times hailed this trilogy as “one of the greatest historical accomplishments of our time”. With stunning detail and insights, America’s foremost Civil War historian recreates the war from its opening months to its final, bloody end. Each volume delivers a complete listening experience. The Coming Fury (Volume 1) covers the split Democratic Convention in the spring of 1860 to the first battle of Bull Run.
©1961 Bruce Catton (P)1989 Recorded Books, LLC
This is the first volume in Bruce Catton's centennial history of the Civil War. This book is a triumph of skill and storytelling. Mr. Catton is a master of weaving together the threads of this defining moment in history--the time that took this country from "the United States are" to "the United States is"--and keeping you so entertained you don't even realize you are being educated and informed.
Starting with the Democrat Party Convention in Charleston in 1860 to the first Battle of Bull Run, this is a story which has wide scope and huge importance even for the America of today. The details of the political conventions (and there ended up being at least 4 of them for major parties), the explosion of emotion as the 7 original Cotton States secede from the Union even before the "Black Republican": Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated. The tense standoffs at forts all over the South - but the spark lights at Charleston Harbor with Fort Sumter. The scramble as the rest of the southern states leave the Union, while Lincoln works to keep the border states at least technically in the Union.
Mr. Catton serves up all the big personalities - Davis, Lee, Lincoln - as well as the ones who have faded far into the shadows of history. And since this was written half a century ago, the political correctness that has made today's exercises in history seem pale or idiotic don't apply. This is an important story, told with grace and skill by someone who has absolute control over his facts and his ability to weave them together.
Can't recommend this more highly
I was soooo happy when Audible finally got all 3 of the Bruce Catton series. No one book can cover an entire epoch but Catton does a great job in capturing the personalities of the Civil War. Make sure you also listen to "Terrible Swift Sword" and "Never Call Retreat" to complete the set. Nelson Runger is my favorite reader for historical works and he does a great job with the entire 60+ hours of material. You can also listen to Shelby Foote's version for another take on this important American event.
I wanted to learn more about the Civil War, specifically around the causes (ie. was the Civil War all about slavery, where does States' rights come into play??) This really gives great insight to the state of the Union prior to the Civil War. You'll see the growing tension that leads up to Bull Run. The reading by Nelson Runger was great as well. It brought some authenticity to the book.
Make no mistake: We're all mammals here.
This Civil War history was written in a narrative format and is therefore very interesting to listen to. I occasionally bristled at what seemed to be the author's insensitive treatment of the issue of slavery itself, but this book was written in 1961 - considering the era, Catton's understanding of race relations was probably a bit ahead of its time, except among those who were considered radical a half century ago.
The narrator himself was okay - easy enough to listen to, but I couldn't give him a top rating after hearing his slight but inexplicable mispronunciation of the word "Allegheny".
Overall, I highly recommend Catton's history to any who want to know more about the Civil War and its causes.
This first volume of Bruce Catton's epic Centennial History of the Civil War begins with the Democratic Party Presidential nominating convention of 1860 and ends with the First Battle of Bull Run. This is a terrific book that fifty years after it was published is still one of the best narrative histories of the Civil War. It is an excellent three volume series. Bruce Catton was a skilled and knowledgeable author who put the listener right in the middle of the momentous events that marked the beginning of the Civil War. Catton does not limit himself to the political and military history of the war. Social and economic history combine to tell the story of the people as well as the momentous events and leaders of the times. Catton began his career as a journalist and brings to his writing of history an immediacy that makes the events and the people involved in them come alive for the listener. I enjoyed listening to the narrator, Nelson Runger. He is pleasantly soft-spoken and keeps a steady pace..
Beginning the book with the Democratic Convention introduces the listener to the passions that tore the country apart. The speeches of the fire-eaters and the Douglas men from the North tell the story of why the Civil War started in their own words. I have seen Catton cited by other history writers for his excellent use of descriptive language. He did a lot of writing about the Civil War and he knew the subject well. I think that this series is comparable to the Shelby Foote The Civil War: A Narrative. Foote focuses more on military history and is more detailed. I would recommend this book and the other two books in the series which are available here at audible.
Most of us met Shelby Foote as a narrator for the Burns PBS Civil War documentary. Myself, the Audible version of Foote's Civil War is an old friend I come back to again and again. Catton's books were a memory, maybe with Camelot or doo-wop sound track.
The two complement so well that I am guessing Foote planned it that way.
Catton goes into greater depth here, setting a narrative, political frame and asking, telling us just how we ended up shooting for four years and terrible battles that can almost overflow memory.
As a rule, Catton will emphasize strategy with quotes and description - he has a dialog after Sharpsburg/Antietam that may out-Shelby Mr Foote.
I think I will now audit and re-audit Catton and Foote, if only because we may yet again be running out of compromises.
An oldster with a 45 year career in broadcast news, while also a advisor to major political campaigns. History was his Journalism specialty.
There are many GREAT books about the Civil War. Great authors.
This book is the absolute "Must" starting point from an author who is
The Greatest of them all.
It is entertaining reading with drama and humor too. And it is Journalism with accuracy on history you can trust.
All at the same time.
This book will build a fire of interest in you which will be with you as long as you live!
It can get a little too much down in the weeds but still well worth the time. There is a lot of history to be learned in this book and I am looking forward to continuing the series.
What Mr Catton provides us in this book is a political history of the start of the American Civil War. The book starts with the opening of the Republican and Democratic Presidential Nominating Conventions, presents the politics and scheming behind the nomination fight and the final success of Abraham Lincoln, the nomination of Stephen Douglas by the Democrats and the Democratic split that eventually gave the public the choice of four Presidential candidates. The book covers the Presidential campaigns of all 4 candidates, the reasons for Mr Lincoln's success as well as the feeling in both the North and South as to who should be President. Mr Catton succeeds in presenting the extraordinary complexity of the voting in the 1860 election which involved southern politicians who wanted to see Lincoln elected, so as to force southern secession from The Union, the desire of those in what was then the American West to see one of their own elected, the northerners who wanted Douglas or Breckinridge elected so as to prevent secession and disabuses the reader of any belief that the politics behind the election was either simple or straight-forward.
The book then follows the events from Mr Lincoln’s election through his inauguration, the political infighting among his political friends and foes alike, the lead up to the start of the fighting with the firing of the canons in Charleston, SC against Fort Sumpter, the fight to keep the border states in the Union and ends with the First Battle of Bull Run. Aside from the description of Bull Run the book is almost completely devoted to the political events with only a smattering of any other battles with the exception of George McClellan’s victories at Philippi and Rich Mountain which catapulted him into the category of American hero.
The single thing that shines through the book is that although it is more than 50 years old Mr Catton’s writing is fresh, full of insight and wonderful to read or listen to. The only negative comment that I could think of was that this book was written in a different social environment than exists in the US today and hence some references to African Americans and slavery may seem a bit cavalier to some. Still, the book shines as an example of what a first class history book can be. It is impossible for me to praise this book highly enough.
The narration by Nelson Runger is first class and I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how and why the US Civil War began.
So many parallels to the current political situation. Every American voter should read this book this year. Sadly history does have a lot of repetitions, because human nature changes very little.
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