The War Before the War by Andrew Delbanco

The War Before the War

The devastating story of how fugitive slaves drove the nation to Civil WarFor decades after its founding, America was really two nations--one slave, one free. There were many reasons why this composite nation ultimately broke apart, but the fact that enslaved black people repeatedly risked their lives to flee their masters in the South in search of freedom in the North proved that the "united" states was actually a lie. Fugitive slaves exposed th...

Details The War Before the War

TitleThe War Before the War
Release DateNov 6th, 2018
PublisherPenguin Press
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, North American Hi..., American History, Military History, Civil War, American Civil War

Reviews The War Before the War

  • Mara
    I appreciate this as a part of the growing area of popular historical non-fiction that is contextualizing the role that resistance among enslaved people played in catalyzing the conflict of the Civil War. This book helps reclaim our public memory & narrative on the true level of resistance that enslaved people enacted, which not only changed their personal lives, but also drove the forces of national policy and dialogue leading up to the Civil Wa...
  • Brenda Ayala
    The War Before the War covers everything that led up to the US civil war and how much went into it. A fair portion of it is spent on the Fugitive Slave Act and encompassed the ambivalent feelings many had over slavery. Most importantly, it covered the views of slavery from a variety of standpoints, including ex-slaves, northerners, religious officials, southerners, and loyal slaves. It was well researched and had a breadth of information to cover...
  • Darcia Helle
    Most history books covering the period from the Revolution to the Civil War are written from the white person's perspective. Whether looking at it from the south or the north, pro- or antislavery, events are often told as if African Americans sat silently awaiting their rescue. I love that this book flips all that upside down, showing us how slaves and free blacks both worked together and clashed during this period. We're shown how and why the Fu...
  • Thomas
    Needs more than my usual two or three lines of Goodreads notes and I don't have time for more than two or three lines (later, then) - this is a masterclass in writing nuanced and imaginative history. Along the way, Delbanco includes just enough parallels to our current moment to spark readers' ethical imaginations (and make them squirm in their seats).Alan Jacobs reviews the book here:
  • Casey Wheeler
    This book is simply amazing. It is well written and researched and an engaging read. The author covers the time period from the Revolution to the Civil War and the struggles endured by slaves seeking freedom, maintaining freedom and those who could not escape the harsh environment in which they were kept. He makes excellent use of qoutes from the many different players involved during the time period including escaped slaves helping to bring clar...
  • Lissa
    4.5 stars.
  • Alexis
    I can't recommend this book enough. It was a capitvating read in its own right, but the depth the author goes into adds even more enjoyabilty. I learned so much from it, and even had a whole conversation about what I had learned with a friend the other day. The topic is timeless, and sadly still applies today. The author makes compelling references to modern events without being political. Modern references and comparisons vary from Trump, to Vie...
  • Vince
    United States Constitution Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 otherwise known as the Fugitive Slave Clause: No person held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.With the inclusion of the Fugitive Slave Clause the framers ...
  • Steven M Cohen
    I have to say that this is an astonishingly great book. I have read dozens of books on this area of history, the Civil War and the run-up to it, slavery, slaves, abolitionism, Lincoln, etc. I can’t think of a single one that ties this all stuff together more convincingly than Andrew Delbanco’s “War Before the War”.The author’s decision to refract all this through the lens of the Fugitive Slave clause of the Constitution (identifying thi...
  • Tony
    THE WAR BEFORE THE WAR: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War. (2018). Andrew Delbanco. ***1/2.If you have read several other studies on slavery in America – as I have – you will find that there is not much new in this work, although there are always more stories to be told. The narrative is well told, and the information provided is encyclopedic, but…well. If you are looking for one volu...
  • Gianna
    This was such an interesting read about the laws relating to slavery before the Civil War and the effects of them. I haven't read such a detailed book yet, that answered questions I had and didn't know I had about the time leading up to the Civil War.There's hope in this book, I loved each and every story about people fighting against slavery (lawyers are amazing), but there are also so many harrowing stories and sadness. The comparisons to the c...
  • Amos
    I learned from the author’s presentation in this book, however tedious the author’s style. The prose with its frequent jabs at the current president and tribal politics in America will rapidly be dated and pose a distraction for future readers. Moreover, statements like “After the war, both sides were obliged, as we say today, to take ownership” fills space and will rapidly become distracting, I hope.
  • Bryce Doty
    Super impressed with this book. I'm an idiot and I know nothing about the world. I've always loved the American Renaissance authors (Emerson, Whitman, Hawthorne, Melville, Dickenson, etc.) but I had no idea what world they were living in when they were writing. Highly recommend.
  • Richard Mounce
    Incredible book