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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.

16 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.

11 people found this helpful

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the best book on this period, still

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

7 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.

6 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.

1 person 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.

19 people 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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I Learned so much!!

I had just finished What God Hath Wrought, a history of the US that wrapped up in 1848. This intentional sequel picks up where the last left of.

The way this book frames the lead up to the civil war is incredible. It cleanly organizes the growing tensions and divisions. The book carefully avoids the sense of fatalism that most pre-war books fall into.

No one is a hero in this book, and no one is a villain. It's the story of people trying their best to get along the way they feel is best - the story of real people

I definitely plan to listen to this again. it's so full of so much information that I know I missed things. I look forward to it :)

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The foundation for the Second Civil War

Looking to explain the social, political, racial and financial issues in the world today?

Study your Damn history!

There literally is nothing new under the sun.

And, Lincoln was just correct at that time, as he is today - across the board.

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Not up to the Oxford series standard

I have listened to 5 or 6 of the Oxford History of the US series Liked the scholarship and stories every time (some readers not so hot) This one? I listened to about 2 hours and returned it (thanks Audible). Reader was ok, but the author should stick to boring undergraduates. More concerned with mentioning and crediting every alternative theory than in telling about events in a clear and forceful way. Bah humbug!