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The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville (Vintage Civil War Library) Paperback

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The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville (Vintage Civil War Library) + The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian + The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library)
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Civil War Library (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 856 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (November 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394746236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394746234
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

In 1954, Shelby Foote was a young novelist with a contract to write a short history of the Civil War. It soon became clear, however, that he had undertaken a long-term project. Twenty years later Foote finally completed his massive and essential trilogy on the War Between the States. His three books are prose masterpieces with lively characterizations and gripping action. Although Foote never sacrifices the truth of what happened to his penchant for artistry, his skills as a novelist serve him well. Reading all three of these books will take some time, but they are worth the investment--especially if you, like Foote, have a touch of sympathy for the South's lost cause.


About the audiobook narrator: I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am with the whole production--the format, of course, and the quality of sound: but above all with Grover Gardner's performance. No writer could ask for a better out-loud reader. --Shelby Foote

Here, for a certainty, is one of the great historical narratives of our century, a unique and brilliant achievement, one that must be firmly placed in the ranks of the masters...a stirring and stupendous synthesis of history.--Chicago Daily News

In objectivity, in range, in mastery of detail, in beauty of language and feeling for the people involved, this work surpasses anything else on the subject...It stands alongside the work of the best of them.--New Republic --.

Anyone who wants to relive the Civil War, as thousands of Americans apparently do, will go through this volume with pleasure....Years from now, Foote's monumental narrative most likely will continue to be read and remembered as a classic of its kind. --New York Herald Tribune Book Review --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Foote's narrative makes this book eminently readable.
Bradley Nelson
For a mature understanding of the American Civil War, I highly recommend this book as a first read.
Mark F. Kusiak
A book this well written is hard to put down, making a quicker read than you think.
David Pope

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 129 people found the following review helpful By George Avalos on May 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I originally read Volume 1 and its sequels about 9 years ago, my interest having being sparked by Mr. Foote's memorable appearance in the classic PBS series "The Civil War". My honest opinion back then was that the trilogy was a literary gem. Having just reread Volume 1, I hold this opinion even more strongly, jaded cynic though I am. The author combines a diligent and scholarly search for the truth--employing to this end, the methods of both the historian and novelist--with a majestic prose which elegantly and vividly brings back to life events and characters from "a world now gone to dust". The narrative paints a broad panorama of the American Civil War during 1861-1862, but I would like to comment on just one aspect of the work. Volume 1 introduces us to the two main protagonists, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, and their struggles to keep their respective nations intact. Now I have heard and read yappings that the narrative is slanted toward a pro-South point of view, and suspect that this ill-founded charge is due in part to Mr. Foote's temerity in putting Davis (throughout the trilogy, in fact) on equal footing with the now sainted Lincoln. Jefferson Davis will probably always remain the most controversial of American historical figures (along with Aaron Burr), owing to the ugly principles--namely, aristocracy and slavery--for which his Confederacy fought de facto. As Mr. Foote put it, Lincoln had "tarred" Davis by masterfully characterizing his idea of self-government as anathema to democracy and freedom. "The tar would never wear off", and to this day, Davis remains to many a villain of the first rank. However, Mr.Read more ›
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By R.J. on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
The PBS series "The Civil War" and Tony Horwitz's book "Confederates In the Attic" opened the door to my Civil War interest, and Shelby Foote's first volume of his narrative clinched it. I've heard many who've criticized his narrative style and some inaccuracies in the history, but I believe Foote does what brings history to life, he weaves a story and makes the characters live. I enjoyed all parts of this first volume, but especially two sections. The first was the battle of Pea Ridge, which I had never heard of, yet was analyzed brilliantly. The second was the Peninsula Campaign; I couldn't put the book down reading about that part. Stonewall Jackson sleeping under a tree when he was needed most, the "best men of the Confederacy" being sacrificed in frontal counter-attacks, McClellan's dilemmas (he was often painted here and by others as over-cautious and a brilliant retreater, yet Foote makes us sympathetic to his problems too), and the emergence of Robert E. Lee and the subsequent retreat of the federal troops. There is so much more to read in this book, Sharpsburg, Shiloh, and also the political situations in both capitals. I thank Shelby Foote for bringing this era to life for me, and I am halfway through volume 3 and I have not been disappointed with any of this massive undertaking.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Christopher B. Jonnes on November 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
How can one man possibly know so much about such a large and complex historical event? The research required, the understanding of the political issues, and the insight into the motivations of the many key players involved boggles the mind. Foote somehow manages to get his hands completely around the enigmatic thing we know as the Civil War and deliver it to us in clear, complete and compelling fashion. This is the Ring Trilogy of historical military literature. Other worthy efforts such as The Killer Angels or, more recently, The Last Full Measure may delve deeper into one particular battle or limited campaign, but no other work provides such a comprehensive and detailed picture of the entire conflict.
The scope is so impressive. Foote does not focus solely on the battles, but rather drills down to the core political and moral issues so that we see the whole chess match. And his rendering of the characters? Words fail me. We follow Stonewall Jackson, or Robert E. Lee, or McClellan, or U.S. Grant for a hundred pages, mesmerized, and then cry out as he swings the scene to another theatre. But two pages later we don't care; we're sucked in again.
Foote captures the emotion of the time. His love of the subject is apparent. It is amazing to read the details of such a divisive and horrific event, to taste Lincoln's frustration over McClellan's waffling, to cheer the audacious achievements of Lee and Jackson, to wonder at Lee's tragic march toward Appomattox, and to empathize with both sides along the way. Shelby Foote has done justice to a defining moment in the history of our great union, leaving readers north and south proud to be Americans. --Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake Up Dead.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark B. Farber on September 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
Shelby Foote presents the Civil War and the events of the time in a highly readable format resembling a novel rather than a history book. The inclusion of numerous private exchanges between officers and soldiers help to bring the characters to life. The book does an excellent job of mixing infomation on the battles, with a look at how event transpired from the perspectives of both the North and the South, and the social transformations and political maneuvering that was taking place in the background.
The book begins with a strong background first of Lincoln, then of Davis, and proceeds to explain the state of the nnation early in 1861. Once the first shot at Sumter is described, however, the tone changes and the emphasis is more on the millitary campaigns. However, Foote continues to tie everything together by bringing the reader back to why the war was being fought from the perspectives of both sides.
While not for everyone (the three volumes together are more than 3000 pages), these volumes provide an excellent source for a perspective of event during the war. The only downside is an insufficient number of battle maps which, at times, makes it hard to picture events as they unfolded during certain campaigns.
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