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Stars in Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863 Hardcover – June 28, 1994


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Stars in Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863 + The Beleaguered City: The Vicksburg Campaign, December 1862-July 1863 (Modern Library) + Shiloh: A Novel
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; 1st edition (June 28, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679601120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679601128
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Shelby Foote, who cut such a courtly figure in Ken Burns's PBS series The Civil War, is an uncommonly graceful writer as well, and this careful study of the 1863 Gettysburg campaign assumes the contours of a classical tragedy. Foote positions readers on the field of battle itself, among swirling smoke and clattering grapeshot, and invites us to feel for ourselves its hellishness: "men on both sides were hollering as they milled about and fired, some cursing, others praying ... not a commingling of shouts and yells but rather like a vast mournful roar." Foote's fine book is history as literature, and a welcome addition to any Civil War buff's library.

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Historian/novelist Foote's masterly work has been culled from his critically acclaimed three-volume narrative of the Civil War. 3 cassettes. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It was very informative and well written.
Suzanne Sappington
We read this before our trip to Gettysburg and got so much more out of the trip with what we learned from the book.
AnitaC
Shelby Foote is one of the great writers about the Civil War.
Carl Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Ned K. Wynn on July 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The first Civil War book I ever read (not counting Stephen Crane's "Red Badge Of Courage" which I read back in the 10th grade), was Michael Shaara's "Killer Angels," an excellent book, moving and informative though somewhat discursive and lacking in as much battle detail as the reader may ultimately desire to know. That was by design as Shaara was seeking to show us the interior lives of the officers who fought at Gettysburg. In this sense "Killer Angels" is more like a novel than a history. "Stars In Their Courses" is a much more richly detailed - and not novelistic (though certainly not lacking in drama) - book, a book whose historical context is more fully exposed: each of the terrible interlocking events of those three days is exploded on the page so that we get a fuller appreciation of the totality of that battle, the "high-water mark of the Confederacy."
I encourage anyone who is interested in furthering their understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg, or of simply reading a great book about the turning point in America's most devastating war, to read this book. And make sure, while you're at it, to also read "Killer Angels." Side by side these book give a fascinating view of three bloody days in the fields and woods of Pennsylvania.
As an addendum, I would like to say that, while this book is more straightforward and less like a novel than KA, it is during the reading of Pickett's Charge from this book that both my wife and I broke down in tears.
EKW
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Foote is something of a folk hero to people
who love reading civil war history. Read this,
the central chapter of his magnificent three
volume narrative, and you'll understand why. In
one modestly sized book, Shelby Foote explains
more of how and what happened during the
three-day battle than many books five times its
size. There are scores of books detailing the
first day of the battle alone, but this little gem
will tell the reader all he or she really needs to
know about Gettsburg without going into every
tiny detail about who commanded this or that
regiment, or where every infantry company was
stationed. Typical of Foote's writing, it is not
florrid or long winded, it simply takes you where
you want to go. A must read
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on February 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Shelby Foote's monumental, three volume history of the American Civil War is widely recognized as one of the great works of the twentieth century. However, its great length - roughly three thousand pages - is undoubtedly intimidating to many readers. Fortunately, this 1994 Modern Library edition, Stars in Their Courses, the Gettysburg Campaign, circumvents this difficulty.

Stars in Their Courses is the middle chapter in the middle volume of Shelby Foote's remarkable history. This extract offers an easy way for a reader new to Shelby Foote to become acquainted with his masterpiece.

The editors of the Modern Library series should be commended for selecting this particular chapter. It is hard to imagine a better introduction to the Gettysburg Campaign. Stars in Their Courses is not only great history, it is great literature. Shelby Foote is an outstanding writer, one that happens, fortunately for us, to write history. In reviewing Foote's acclaimed historical narrative, one critic said, "It seems to me unlikely that it ever will be superseded."

Remarkably, Stars in Their Courses is entirely self-contained. A reader not familiar with Shelby Foote's writing would not realize that this Modern Library edition was actually a single chapter drawn from a much larger work. The reader has no need to reference any other sources.

Stars in Their Courses would make an excellent gift for that friend or family member that enjoys good literature, but heretofore has not developed an enthusiasm for the Civil War. The Modern Library edition is attractively bound, and printed on acid-free paper.

Michael Shaara's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Killer Angels, would be a great companion gift to Stars in Their Courses. Shaara's focus is on specific participants in the three-day battle, especially Lee, Buford, Longstreet, Chamberlain, and Armistead. The Killer Angels was the basis for the epic movie, Gettysburg.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Grant Waara VINE VOICE on January 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the perfect Shelby Foote sampler if the three volume, "The Civil War: A Narrative" seems either too daunting or you haven't the time.
It's the entire "Stars in Their Courses" Chapter and part of "Unvexed to the Sea" from "Fredericksburg to Meridian," the second volume of the trilogy.
Simply put, it's the best and most concise account of the Gettysburg campaign you're ever likely to find. Foote doesn't overwhelm the reader the details, but instead, and with careful literary design, catches the ebb and flow of a great battle as it opens and occurs.
If you've read the trilogy, then you probably don't need this, but it certainly is a lot easier to tote around than the rather ponderous size of the others. Also, if you're quite familiar with Gettysburg, then Foote may not be anything new, but I do think his mastery of the language eclipses most of what's out there (how historians drain the life out of such an exciting subject I'll never know).
If you enjoyed this, I heartily recommend you pick up "Stars in Their Courses" in the audio where Foote reads the book himself. You listen to his voice and I'd hazard a guess that it's like listening to Homer read the Iliad or the Odyssey. Foote's melodious voice is mesmerizing and becomes a performance in itself.
Foote deserves a 21 gun salute.
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