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Civil War Volumes 1-3 Box Set Paperback – Box set, November 12, 1986

4.8 out of 5 stars 356 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

This beautifully written trilogy of books on the American Civil War is not only a piece of first-rate history, but also a marvelous work of literature. Shelby Foote brings a skilled novelist's narrative power to this great epic. Many know Foote for his prominent role as a commentator on Ken Burns's PBS series about the Civil War. These three books, however, are his legacy. His southern sympathies are apparent: the first volume opens by introducing Confederate President Jefferson Davis, rather than Abraham Lincoln. But they hardly get in the way of the great story Foote tells. This hefty three volume set should be on the bookshelf of any Civil War buff. --John Miller


“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.”—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
“This is historical writing at its best. . . . It can hardly be surpassed.”—Library Journal

“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
“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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 3 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition (November 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394749138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394749136
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (356 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I became a "fan" of the Civil War, to the extent any person can become a fan of a war, after watching Ken Burns' excellent series on PBS. I then set out to learn more about the war, and read, over the course of a couple of years, the three volume masterpiece of Shelby Foote. I can state without reservation it was one of the most enriching reading experiences of my life.
In Foote's talented hands, the characters of the conflict, North and South, come alive. He doesn't ignore the war out west, and treats battles such as Vicksburg, Shiloh, New Orleans and countless others with precision and attention.
He has somewhat of a Southerner's slant, but he is not so opinionated as to ignore gallantry by the North, and he rightfully rips Confederates when it is called for. Lincoln comes off much more sympathetically then Jeff Davis in my opinion, and he recounts various blunders by Confederate generals including Ewell's failure to act at Gettysburg, the disappearance of JEB Stuart when Lee needed him most, Joe Johnston's hesitancy and Hood's uncontrolled aggression in Georgia, etc.
Some reviewers here at Amazon criticized his lack of footnotes and a few missed details (ie who got in the last word in a series of letters between Grant and Lee, etc.) Come on, anyone reviewing the bibliography knows that Foote has done his research, I would expect anyone writing a 2800 page chronicle of a 4 year war to get a fact wrong here and there. 135 years after the war, details still pop up in archives and newly discovered letters which make people question prior assumptions. This is no historical novel as some have suggested - he doesn't invent dialogue and guess about the personal lives of characters like the Shaara books - this is history.
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Format: Hardcover
Perhaps the greatest accolade I heard of Shelby Foote's involvement with the PBS mini-series "The Civil War" was the admiring comment that he seemed to have been there. I feel very much the same way about this epic 3-volume set. McPhearson's "Battle Cry of Freedom" may be the standard one-volume history of the Civil War, and a fine work it is, but it offers nowhere near the feeling of proximity to people and events as does this massive labor of love. Foote is so good at so many of the writer/historian's crafts that combine to make this trilogy essential Civil War reading. His skill at bringing a novelist's eye to this material has already been frequently noted. But he also has a wonderful way of giving a reader the feeling for the terrain on which battles were fought, for the ebb and flow of those battles, for the character of the men involved (and what characters! the proud, obstinante Jeff Davis, the rugged, unwashed Grant, the patrician Lee, the moody, tragic Lincoln--who would dare invent them? Yet Foote brings them, and dozens more, to breathing life). He conveys equally well the movement of troops as he does ideas--not to mention the sights, sounds, smells of the era, be they on the battlefield, in the army camp, or the White House. These are books that I will turn to again and again (I just got done re-reading volume 3), because, like no one else, Shelby Foote not only makes me feel like he was there, but that *I* was too.
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Format: Paperback
I have just completed this almost 3000 page tome on the American Civil War. I am not American but have always found the Civil War fascinating. A while back I finally decided to purchase a book about the Civil War that would read well and also be informative. Well Foote's books certainly are that. It became an obsession with me to get home everday and read on.....it felt as if I was there. This is partly due to the fact that the books read like a novel (probably why it is called a narrative!). I have read critiscms of the book which state that Foote is pro-Confederate and that this is really a Confederate History....well this is nonsense. He handles both sides with equal deft care. His descriptions of the main battles...First Bull Run, Fredricksburg, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Antietam, Chancellorsville are all excellent and not to mention the rest of the campaigns. My only critiscm if it can be called that is that his second and third book are far better than his first which tended to drag a little but this may be because things started to really heat up in the second and third book as did the War. Altogether an excellent book and kudos to the author. Now I have to find something else to fill the void.....?
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Format: Hardcover
I first read Shelby Foote's masterful Civil War trilogy many years ago. If you are something of a Civil War buff, you will be familiar with this exceptional work. For newcomers, there are many compelling and glowing reviews to be found at earlier editions on the Amazon website. I recently spotted this new edition at a bookstore and they kindly let me open the shrink wrap and examine it. The production quality of the printing, binding and box assembly are first rate, and I would describe this as a worthy collector's edition. The first reviewer for this item left the impression that the font size is too small in comparison to other larger formats. My comparisons showed them to be fairly close in size. Any lengthy book has to find a balance between font size and overall bulk; I think this edition strikes a good balance in that regard. If you are not able to accomplish a hands on comparison as I did, you can approximate it by comparing the closeness in size between the various boxed set dimensions...not much difference. And, with this set, there is a markedly better quality of the printer's art. This would be a fine set to grace any collector's shelves.
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