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.
The three-volume history is skewed very much toward the opening year(s), and it is here that Catton excels. He gives a deep survey of the year or two leading up to the secession crisis, something usually passed over or summarized into cliché.
After this, the book is a pleasant enough history for the most part, but it lacks the detail and narrative creativity that I liked so much in Shelby Foote's novelistic history.
Catton spends altogether too much of the series on digressive essays that are no more or less than anti-Confederate propaganda. He is particularly obsessed with the problem of negro slavery, and how it was the central issue of the war. As to justifications for the Confederacy, Catton does not seem to think there were any. The secessionists were vain and deluded fools, while the Federals' defects were minor and routine.
Catton's point of view is identical to the pulpy propaganda that the Union League and the Loyal League cranked out from 1862 to 1865 (and beyond). One wants to say to Catton, Oh grow up!
Greater detail from Lincoln's perspective.
It would depend on the subject matter.
The smaller, less imperative letters and viewpoints from officers or others. Again, I would have liked to have heard more of Lincoln's or the other primary officers thoughts, decisions and consideratons.
The detailed description of characters involved.
The pace of reading
just finished the first volumn and ready to move to the secon
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