- 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: 6.3 x 1.7 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 289 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville (Vintage Civil War Library) Paperback – November 12, 1986
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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.
"Here, for a certainty, is one of the great historical narratives…a unique and brilliant achievement, one that must be firmly placed in the ranks of the masters."—Van Allen Bradley, Chicago Daily News
"A stunning book full of color, life, character and a new atmosphere of the Civil War, and at the same time a narrative of unflagging power. Eloquent proof that an historian should be a writer above all else." —Burke Davis
"To read this great narrative is to love the nation—to love it through the living knowledge of its mortal division. Whitman, who ultimately knew and loved the bravery and frailty of the soldiers, observed that the real Civil War would never be written and perhaps should not be. For me, Shelby Foote has written it.... This work was done to last forever." —James M. Cox, Southern Review
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I have read and loved Civil War history for over 45 years. The only negative I can find in Shelby Foote's work is the fact that I will never find anything as satisfying to read, not just on the Civil War, but on any topic! Oh well, I've solved this dilemma by reading this trilogy for the third time in 30 years. I probably won't wait 10 years to read it again.
If you are considering purchasing any of these volumes, go ahead and buy now. Settle down in your favorite chair and cherish this phenomenonal work!
If you saw the Ken Burns PBS series on the Civil War you saw the man with a twinkle in his eye as he told you a story about one of the many events that constituted the war. His gentlemanly charm and an occasional twinkle in his text makes for fine reading. Do keep in mind that there are different opinions about many of the topics Shelby writes. Some compare him to Bruce Catton a noted historian of a slightly earlier age who won plaudits for his tomes on the war.
But having read Catton, Foote, and others I am convinced that they have something to offer as we try to understand what really happened and why many things did happen during the course of a war where a nation fought both to stay together and to tear itself apart.
Foote's volumes are a read so be prepared for hours of enjoyment of reading the captured discource of a uniquely talented man.
I read these volumes years ago, but recently picked them back up on Kindle, and am in the process of re-reading them one by one. They are even better the second time around! Some will point out the flaws with the work: Foote doesn't use footnotes for instance, writing as a narrative. This is a weakness, but it is a weakness easily rectified. It is time for a new edition of these classics, with accompanying notes and citations. Given how magesterial and complete these volumes are (and given the fact that there is room for interpretation and disagreement with Foote at times) it would seem that a new critical edition of this incredibly important text is called for.
Foote is a southerner, and a great writer, and thus he brings a humane touch to both sides of the conflict, giving a nuanced and thorough treatment of the conflict that demonizes none, but explains much. He thinks clearly and writes beautifully and deeply understands his subject matter. There is simply no better narrative of the conflict in my opinion.
Strongly recommended: and a plea to the publisher. PLEASE consider republishing these classics in a critical edition with footnotes and accompanying essays by respected scholars. It is time. Foote's work deserves it.
Although some have pointed out that Shelby has a sympathy toward the South (being a southerner, this is no great surprise) but that does not make for bad history, just the opposite. All histories are biased by the nature and selection of their primary source materials. Foote readily recognizes his attitudes toward the Confederacy and the Union and has written an excellent footnote to that effect. Reading his accounts of people, issue and battles, I think he is far less biased than even he has said.
If you are at all interested in the Civil War, this should be a staple in your collection.