WINNER, BEST BIOGRAPHY OF 2021. Neil Lanctot vividly captures the struggles of the World War I era in the United States by tracking these three “influencers” with deeply complicated and divergent personalities. We’re especially impressed by Lanctot’s emphasis on colorful and plentiful quotes from people of the time, which allows history to speak for itself.
Historian Lanctot (Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella) delivers a fresh, character-driven look at the debate over America’s entry into WWI....Lanctot smoothly toggles between his three main subjects and intriguing secondary characters including Hungarian suffragist and pacifist Rosika Schwimmer and American novelist James Norman Hall, who volunteered to fight with the British. The result is a rich and rewarding portrait of a crucial turning point in American history. (Oct.)
A meticulously researched examination of the dynamic among three important American newsmakers of the early 20th century...He delivers an interesting take on how Addams, Roosevelt, and Wilson interacted in alternately cooperative and competitive ways. A rigorous...historical study that reveals how three individuals helped pave the way for the American century.
Starred review. As the world began its march to the outbreak of WWI, the U.S. found itself conflicted domestically as well as diplomatically. Lanctot (Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella, 2011) recounts this momentous time by focusing on three Americans whose status and leadership profoundly influenced how the nation would respond to Europe’s crisis. Theodore Roosevelt had sundered the Republican Party with his breakaway Progressive Party campaign for the 1912 Presidential election. Woodrow Wilson, scholar and visionary, won that election and had to navigate the almost-impossible territory among rival nations, bypassing formal State Department channels by deploying Colonel Edward House to Europe. Jane Addams had become one of the world’s most respected personalities, and her intense pacifism attracted many Americans as well as foreigners eager to manipulate American opinion. Lanctot shifts smoothly among these pivotal personalities and makes the details of this broadly ranging history accessible to all sorts of readers. He covers some of the same territory Barbara Tuchman explored in her iconic The Guns of August, but Lanctot’s focus on the roles of these three titanic figures contributes a unique and valuable view of America’s place in the Great War’s genesis.
Thought-provoking. . a well-written presentation.
A lively and enthralling look at the war at home that raged over the three years the United States steered clear of overseas military entanglements during World War I, focusing on three of its most prominent and potent combatants...The Approaching Storm brings together a fascinating array of characters...But the real strength...is not its colorful and well-drawn supporting cast but the three pivotal figures at its center, who provide a remarkably revealing lens for viewing the unrelenting internecine conflicts that roiled the American home front during World War I and well into the years beyond.
Accessible and engaging...Lanctot’s book reminds us that the seemingly inevitable transformation of the United States into a great military power was not, in fact, inevitable at all. Between 1914 and 1917, American leaders could have steered their country down a very different path, committing themselves to forging world peace without fighting Wilson’s “war to end all wars.” Today, as shifts in the global balance of power make American military supremacy increasingly difficult to maintain, that’s something worth thinking about.
Five Stars. The Approaching Storm brings the reader on a journey whose destination is preordained. However, the people and circumstances that guide the way form the crux of a brilliantly told history. The heart of the book consists of the three robust personalities caught in the middle of a rapidly escalating situation. Author Neil Lanctot relates the past with elegance and flair.
Lanctot has written an extensive work that is an enjoyable read. His book is a seamless narrative that moves from Wilson to Roosevelt to Addams, while also tying in figures like House, Henry Ford, the peace movements, foreign ambassadors, Wilson’s cabinet members, members of Congress, and journalists....This book is worthy of being placed among the many necessary studies on the war. Much like “The Guns of August” is a necessary study of the destructive power of modern hubris, “The Approaching Storm” is a necessary study about political maneuvering during a time of crisis.
Well written and...extremely well researched...Recommended for anyone who wants a penetrating narrative of how America came to play what turned out to be a vital role in the war’s outcome.
Masterful... Enlightening and adds new depth to the familiar story of Roosevelt vs. Wilson.