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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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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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.

14 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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One of the best ...

Over the past year I’ve read extensively on the civil war and found this book to be enlightening , and Eric Martin’s narration was right up there with the very best. I highly recommend it for those wanting to better understand how that awful war ever came to be.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

detailed to a fault

complicated read, rewind button was used often. very informative, reading the actual book would've been more beneficial

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Outstanding

Rigorous, cogent, and impeccably written. The reading performance is top notch and perfectly suited for the material.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very good history of period leading up to Civil War

This is a very good history book, and I quite liked the narrator. Anyone interested in the period leading up to the Civil War should enjoy this book. I gave it 4/5 stars because the language is sometimes stilted and overly “academic,” but in general it is quite accessible.

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Worth The Effort

Would you consider the audio edition of The Impending Crisis to be better than the print version?

Maybe, not necessarily.

What other book might you compare The Impending Crisis to and why?

The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton. The Impending Crisis by Potter takes a much lengthier, in depth examination of the period leading up to the Irrepressible Conflict.

What about Eric Martin’s performance did you like?

Interesting. He keeps a low, even keel, making it easier to focus on the complexities of the ideas.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

His discussion about Stephen A. Douglas and his attempt to preserve the Union and avert a secession crisis during the campaign of 1860.

Any additional comments?

This is a fantastic work. It is a groundbreaking thorough examination of the events leading up to the secession crisis of 1860-1861. The comprehensive breadth and sweep of the narrative is made possible by Potter's inexhaustible patience in collecting and assembling historical facts and detail that, together, carry the reader along on an irresistible wave of the dramatic unfolding of history.
This book is a great achievement. I'm looking forward to listening to the whole text again, from beginning to end!