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The Coming of the Civil War (Phoenix Books) Paperback – April 15, 1966

ISBN-13: 978-0226118949 ISBN-10: 0226118940 Edition: Second Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Books
  • Paperback: 499 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Second Edition edition (April 15, 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226118940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226118949
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,249,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Chris Johnson on November 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
To me, the dullest part of the Civil War began at Fort Sumter. The greatest deficiency of Ken Burns' celebrated documentary (enough to make it almost useless)is that he spent almost no time on the causes. I have always found the political maneuvering between North and South, between the two great parties(and within them as well), the occasions when secession and war almost happened, and the dramatic compromises that held off disaster to be essential for understanding the war and why it was fought the way it was. The political battles over the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Lecompton Constitution are more interesting to me than the dramas of Antietam, Chancellorsville or Gettysburg.
Avery Craven was one of the so-called "revisionist" school of American historians, those academics who asserted that there was blame for the war on both sides, that condemned radical abolitionists and Southern fire-eaters equally. Although he may not have intended it, Professor Craven makes an even more interesting assertion. There were not two sides in this affair but three. The West(what would now be the Middle West)was a region with its own economic interests. And this region, for the most part, wouldn't have gotten all that worked up about slavery if its farmers could have gotten their goods to market. But Southern political ineptitude and indifference to Western interests alienated that region from the South and probably cost the South the war.
All in all, an excellent history of the antebellum United States. Whether you agree with Professor Craven's ideas or not, this book is well worth your time.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By William P. Vallante on September 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe it was Avary O. Craven who once said that in depth exploration of the social, political and economic factors which led to the war do not have "the entertainment value of harrowing tales of runaway slaves." He was right of course. Readers will not find any moralizing in this book. That alone will make for a refreshing read. It's not easy reading - but then, understanding the various undercurrents that propelled America to this war isn't an easy thing. But if the reader perseveres, he will emerge with a better understanding of the event, and a realization that the drivel that contemporary historians (for the most part) peddle, is a simplified and dumbed down version of the facts, written, most likely, for a population that has itself been dumbed down.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Barrie W. Bracken on September 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
MANY HISTORIANS SEEM TO RELEGATE AVERY CRAVEN TODAY TO A POSITION OF PRESENT IRRELEVANCE. TODAY'S READERS MAY NOT FIND HIS IDEAS "POLITICALLY CORRECT" BUT THE QUESTION REMAINS SHOULD HISTORY BE POLITICALLY CORRECT?
CRAVEN IS A GREAT HISTORIAN WHO WILL NOT BE LIKED BY ANY PERSON DEEPLY IMBEDDED IN THE RADICALISM OF EITHER SIDE OF THE MASON AND DIXON LINE. HIS PERSONAL PACIFICISM KEEPS HIM FROM SEEING THIS WAR AS AN IRRESISTABLE CONFLICT. IT MAY BE A GOOD TIME FOR US TO LOOK AT ANY WAR AND ASK IF IT IS IRRESSTIBLE. YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS BOOK BUT IT WILL HOPEFULLY MAKE YOU THINK WHICH IS THE PURPOSE OF HISTORY.
A PREVIOUS REVIEWER HAS STATED THAT FOR HIM THE BORING PART OF THE CIVIL WAR BEGINS AT FT. SUMPTER. I FULLY AGREE. THIS BOOK GIVES A FRESH LIGHT ON THE MOST INTERESTING PERIOD OF AMERICAN HISTORY--THE ANTEBELLUM PERIOD. A GREAT BOOK WELL WORTH READING. sIMPLY LOOK AT THE TABLE OF CONTENTS.
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10 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on January 21, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is interesting in that it not only examines the key political issues of the antebellum period but also delves into the culture of the time, especially that of South. But the author's views are tilted toward those of the antebellum South. He goes to great length in describing the Southern plantation system with its incorporation of slave labor and compares it somewhat favorably with the industrialization and the "so-called" free labor of the North. In addition, the exaggerated Southern claims of social superiority seem to strike a chord with the author.
A great deal of the book is consumed with describing the reactions and views of leading spokesmen and of various publications in the North and the South concerning major antebellum political developments. The question of the Mexican Cession and the Wilmot Proviso in 1846 moved the question of slavery squarely into the political system resulting in the formation of the Free Soil Party and talk of secession in the South. The Compromise of 1850 quieted some voices, but only until the next expansion of slavery.
Interestingly, of all of the political crises of the mid-1850s where slavery was front and center, that is, the Kansas-Nebraska bill, the bleeding Kansas crisis, and the Dred Scott decision, the author claims that the Southern response was relatively moderate compared to the extremists of the North. Yet that moderation seemed to have evaporated with the John Brown raid at Harpers Ferry. And the Southern reaction to Lincoln's election the next year was beyond shrill and ultimately self-destructive.

I think it is fairly obvious that this author regards the Civil War as occurring as a result of emotionalism and opportunism run amok.
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