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The Approaching Fury: Voices of the Storm, 1820-1861

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  100 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Stephen B. Oates tells the story of the coming of the American Civil War through the voices, and from the viewpoints, of 13 principal players in the drama, including Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Nat Turner, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass. This unique approach shows the crucial role that perception of events played in the sectional hostilities that bore ...more
Paperback, 506 pages
Published May 6th 1998 by Harpperen (first published 1997)
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Nov 27, 2010 Tim rated it really liked it
History told in the first person. Oates has chosen thirteen people to relate their understanding of the events that we know now led to the Civil War. It is an engaging read (he has written biographies on at least two of the individuals previously - Lincoln and Brown), with deep roots in each of these individual's personal and public writings (Jefferson, Clay, Calhoun, Turner, Stowe, Brown, Garrison, Douglass, Fitzhugh, Douglas, Lincoln, Davis, Chestnut). He does a good job of examining events an ...more
John Kennedy
May 15, 2013 John Kennedy rated it really liked it
Oates does a masterful job of blending voices involved in the "peculiar institution," using expertly weaved first-person narrative from their own historical speeches and documents. Parallels abound to today's engrained social ill of abortion. As with abortion, society had become so comfortable with slavery that most people viewed it as a necessary evil even while acknowledging it as immoral. In principle, people abhorred it, but in reality they were addicted to it, and would do whatever they nee ...more
Curtis Smothers
Oct 11, 2012 Curtis Smothers rated it it was amazing
Want to study history through the words and views of those who lived and participated in it? The author has taken the speeches and writings of historical characters who played a role in the events that led up to our Civil War and has crafted a fascinated narrative. Starting with Thomas Jefferson, who foresaw the holocaust that slavery would bring to our country, the book simply gives each person's passionate views on the issues and events that would divide our nation and result in a destructive ...more
Everton Patterson
Excellent narrative, really a series of monologues, of the crucial antebellum period in American History from the Missouri Compromise of 1820 to the coming of the Civil War in 1861. Author Stephen B. Oates lets some major actors who left written records tell us the story in their own words. The value in this book is that even though I have traversed this period a few times before, this telling gave me a better sense of each player's stance regarding the issues involved, and thus led to a better ...more

The writer / historian does a nice job of telling the story of the approaching Civil War through first person narrative of important people involved in the politics and controversy of the times. He is such a thorough historian that he is able to capture the personalities of the people involved - from Stephen Douglas, Frederick Douglass, John C. Calhoun, Abraham Lincoln, John Brown and more. Oates moves through the decades, capturing the time. The length is a bit much at times, you have to be ded
Jan 17, 2016 Donna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This was such an interesting book. It really brings to life this time period and how the Civil war seemed to be inevitable based on all that was going on.
Eric Valliere
Oct 13, 2014 Eric Valliere rated it it was amazing
One of my very favorite books. Shows how smart, articulate, passionate and thoughtful people can still be, simply, wrong.
Feb 06, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I love the way Oates wrote in the voices of the key characters of the Civil War time period. I have never been able to understand how the South could ever think that slavery was acceptable. After reading this book I could at least see the self-delusion the key Southern politicians used in maintaining slavery for so many years. This book also caused me to wonder what ludicrous beliefs we have in our culture now that two hundred years from now will be as horrifing as the rationalization of slavery ...more
Jan 15, 2009 Hannah rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. It provides 13 different points from historical men and women during the decade leading up to the Civil War. From Abraham Lincoln to John Brown to Jefferson Davis, this book provides an excellent account of the events that lead to the unfortunate and bloody Civil War. This book also dares to refute the fact that the Civil War was inevitable and only caused from a disagreement over slavery, and strives to account for the other numerous causes that led to the war.
Aug 21, 2012 Wally8541 marked it as to-read
Not the first time for this book, I've yet again been lured to the Civil War by (1) My sister-in-law Leslie who is writing a Civil War novel and told me her favorite book which she used for research was Sears', Chancellorsville, (2) A trip to Appomattox I'm making today, (3) My lack of doing anything half-way, I streamed from Chancellorsville to 4 American History books (for background lead up), to Approaching Fury for the pre-Civil War lead up. Yeah, I am that whacked out :-).
Tyler Anderson
Nov 03, 2009 Tyler Anderson rated it really liked it
You know, this is a genuinely good book, a great resource, and I like the format. All that said, it didn't fully hold my interest long term and I never finished it. In the end, it was much like reading a book of speeches. Highly informative and useful, but in the end I missed a more varied content. Still very much recommended for the avid history reader or student of the era.
Feb 10, 2012 RJ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Bringing the pre-Civil War era into life, using the imaginary voices of various major figures. It is a brilliant concept, carried out so well here. Garrison, Calhoun, Douglas, Lincoln, Brown, they're all represented. It presents all sides as the divide becomes larger, then explodes in 1861.
Douglas Graney
Aug 20, 2008 Douglas Graney rated it really liked it
fascinating book. Putting the coming of the civil war in the words of those who were there, with some artistic license, made for riveting reading. Great for making excerpts for teaching high school kids.
Oct 10, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: whs
I read this book for my Civil War class. It was really interesting to read from the perspectives of different historical figures and it definitely taught me a lot about this time period.
Jun 18, 2007 Dad rated it it was ok
Didn't appreciate the concept or style. Plan to sell it. Never wanted the second follow-up volume.
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A former professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is an expert in 19th-century United States history.

Oates has written 16 books during his career, including biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, and John Brown, and an account of Nat Turner's slave rebellion. His Portrait of America, a compilation of essays about United States history, is
More about Stephen B. Oates...

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