The Civil War: A Narrative Epub ☆ War: A eBook

The Civil War: A Narrative This is probably the leading complete history of the Civil War, which for me means there is a great opportunity for someone to write something better.Good things 1 Good turn of phrase 2 Good ability to paint a full personality.Problems 1 Too strong a bias in favor of South.2 Too strong a bias in favor of covering less important western action.3 Too much filler Could have trimmed 25% 33% of total words.4 For me, neededand better maps, with dates and times on them.5 Would have benef This is probably the leading complete history of the Civil War, which for me means there is a great opportunity for someone to write something better.Good things 1 Good turn of phrase 2 Good ability to paint a full personality.Problems 1 Too strong a bias in favor of South.2 Too strong a bias in favor of covering less important western action.3 Too much filler Could have trimmed 25% 33% of total words.4 For me, neededand better maps, with dates and times on them.5 Would have benefitted from a Cast of Players list so reader could keep straight on who various military figures were, and provide refresher on where one had last read about them.6 Most importantly, Mr Foote should have gotten a fewhours of tutoring on basic military art A stronger reader than I might take on the assignment of counting what seemed like a reuse of Cannae hundreds of times during the trilogy.7 Andersonville deserved at least a paragraph Can only attribute to Southern protectionism Could have done it sympathetically Having read and enjoyed Shelby Foote s novel Shiloh which I highly recommend , I was motivated to attempt his magnum opus, the one million plus word trilogy The Civil War The books are surprisingly readable, come in a bright box set and are great for flipping through if you have any background with the Civil War, I suggest reading the introduction and then skipping around and reading about the battles or figures you re interested in For me, that included William T Sherman, Nathan Bedford Fo Having read and enjoyed Shelby Foote s novel Shiloh which I highly recommend , I was motivated to attempt his magnum opus, the one million plus word trilogy The Civil War The books are surprisingly readable, come in a bright box set and are great for flipping through if you have any background with the Civil War, I suggest reading the introduction and then skipping around and reading about the battles or figures you re interested in For me, that included William T Sherman, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jefferson Davis, Vicksburg and a few others Foote is the master of the anecdote so these books make for great conversational resources and are quite memorable.I cannot recommend this trilogy, however, without a nod to the greatest definitive history set Gibbon s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire In college I convinced my parents I needed the books which I could not afford for a class even though I didn t Since then, I have returned to them often I have a found memory of sitting in Los Angeles art deco Union Station while reading Volume 1, utterly lost in the world of ancient Rome Gibbon s vivid descriptions of the contests in the coliseum, prefaced first by the idyllic rule of Antoninus and Aurelius, outshine anything put forth by the contemporary writers of Rome who actually lived it I can t stress how strongly your bookshelf deserves this set I purchased Foote s trilogy because it was a well known trilogy about the American Civil War All told, it was a waste of time and money.I had read Battle Cry of Freedom, and become muchinterested in this field than when I began teaching it to 8th graders I read one of Sears books, a coupleby McPherson, and some that dealt with African Americans, both in slavery, in the resistance to slavery, and their participation, which is considered pivotal, in the Civil War.Here are some of th I purchased Foote s trilogy because it was a well known trilogy about the American Civil War All told, it was a waste of time and money.I had read Battle Cry of Freedom, and become muchinterested in this field than when I began teaching it to 8th graders I read one of Sears books, a coupleby McPherson, and some that dealt with African Americans, both in slavery, in the resistance to slavery, and their participation, which is considered pivotal, in the Civil War.Here are some of the ways in which I found Foote s trilogy miserably lacking though full of detail, the details selected for viewing are skewed so far toward the secessionist effort that he refers to the president as Davis, and the various cabinet members posts, Secretary of War, etc are all also members of the Confederate government in waiting, members of a so called government that existed solely during a failed Civil War, recognized by no other entity Union soldiers and officers are referred to most of the time as the enemy These things alone should have caused Foote to leave aside his shuck and jive introduction about being a sucker for a lost cause, and instead honestly include in the title, making it The Civil War A Confederate Perspective , or something similar Though he says he has written a nonfiction series, using narrative form because he wrote primarily as a novelist which he was good at and should have stuck to, IMHO , he takes the third person omniscient, stating what various members of the secessionist army and political leadership were thinking at so many times that it is hard to believe his blanket statement that it is all documented it surely is not referenced, as the McPherson work I am currently reading is His bibliography is rife with Confederate sources, and though Sherman s memoirs show up there, he uses them sparingly More on that But again, in terms of factual information, he somehow has lengthy passages of dialogue that once again, are not referenced, and again, I find myself wondering whether he has not veered into the land of historical fiction, where he feelscomfortable If one read no other work on the American Civil War than Foote s, one would come out badly misinformed In the Battle Cry of Freedom, the valorous crossing of the Chattahoochie River as Sherman and his men enter the heavily fortified, tactically critical city of Atlanta is described in detail The men strip down and cross naked Sherman adds, except for their boots , and since they must ford a surging river chest deep, they hold their weapons above their heads If they must fire, they reload, still overhead as practiced this is no longer Sherman, whose memoir is remarkably modest, it is McPherson ,with their heads under water to avoid being struck, and then raise up, fire, and move forward It is an astonishing feat, well worthy of history books How does Foote deal with this First, he lets us know that the Chattahoochie was a pleasant temperature by referring to the Union soldiers as bathing 100 days grime off of themselves in its balmy depths Then later, he makes a lot of hay out of the cleverness of Hood seeing to it that bridges are destroyed or guarded, but refers to the Union s crossing of the Chattahoochie as amphibious crossing Two words Sherman reports that once they were out and he makes it light and funny, but you can also see the sacrifice his men have made in carrying this out, and HOW many commanders could persuade troops to do this , they entered Atlanta, and there they were, naked and shivering, cold and wet, right in the middle of town in DECEMBER Can you see why I find the discrepancy in reporting to be deplorable There areof Davis s words here than there are of Lincoln s, as many references to the Confederate Breckinridge, nearly, as there are to Sherman fewer than ten pages in this entire trilogy refer to Black people Negroes or worse, and these werenumerous and generally listed along with property, the N word, and I know it s historically accurate, but I won t use it There is no mention, for example, of the fact that the first troops to enter Richmond following the collapse of the Confederacy were Black troops The best Foote can do is within 2 or 3 sentences, admit that the Confederate army collected few Black troops, most of whom deserted, whereas the Union was able to recruit nearly one million, and over 600,000 were still serving and many of those missing were either dead, wounded, or horror of horrors, prisoners at the end of the war.There is a reason McPherson won the Pulitzer There is a reason Foote didn t.If you want to read one immensely competent history of the Civil War and be done with it, read McPherson s Battle Cry of Freedom It is dense and highly literate and will take a long time It is not folksy and crowded with amusing little vignettes, but it is accurate down to the last letter.If you are a die hard southerner whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy and a large piece of you is still adjusting to the fact that it failed and the Union stands, maybe you ll like this It took up six months of my life though I also read other books to improve my mood , and countless hours that I can never get back Apart from a few little tidbits that were interesting but nonessential, this was a waste of time Shelby Foote was commissioned to write a concise narrative of the American Civil War in 1958, following his great success with the book, Shiloh The project grew beyond the bounds of the original plan from Random House, and blossomed into one of the greatest works ever written about the war Foote was born in Mississippi, but was later transplanted to Memphis His was the first Southern voice to describe the Civil War inthan a generation In spite of his background, he is no disciple of th Shelby Foote was commissioned to write a concise narrative of the American Civil War in 1958, following his great success with the book, Shiloh The project grew beyond the bounds of the original plan from Random House, and blossomed into one of the greatest works ever written about the war Foote was born in Mississippi, but was later transplanted to Memphis His was the first Southern voice to describe the Civil War inthan a generation In spite of his background, he is no disciple of the lost cause movement He was frequently quoted as saying that The North fought that war with one hand tied behind its back referring to the inadequate leaders, misuse of technology, and bungled strategies and tactics employed by the Union forces in the first years of the war He also views the failures of the Confederacy in their lack of vision in the Western theater of operations where the war was lost militarily , and the lack of leadership in depth on that side He has been taken to task for providing a primarily military narrative of the war, with little emphasis on the economic and or social backdrop of the war These elements are actually woven into his work as the production capacity of the South was crippled with the capture of the Mississippi river, Rail lines, Atlanta, Richmond, and the other few manufacturing areas in the South Shelby Foote also demonstrates his respect for Lincoln long before Ms Godwin s Team of Rivals who was fighting the war on multiple fronts Lincoln was fighting his cabinet, the Copperhead Generals Democrats who had their own war aims , the Radical Republicans, and come to grips with his own ignorance of modern warfare Footes writing style makes the work As he was writing he became THE living expert on the Civil War, so much so that Ken Burns and Geoffrey Ward spent muchtime interviewing him 5Xthan any other expert interviewed for the Civil War PBS series made in 1991 He was an academic who spoke and wrote like a storyteller novelist, which he was He is the antithesis of the facts and dates school of American history, and has made the subject accessible to generations of Americans These are must read books for anyone deeply interested in the topic I couldn t find a listing for just Volume 3 Red River to Appomattox which I finished this year Last year I read the first two volumes This is the last volume which covered Grant arriving in Washington to take up duties as commander and looking like a scruffy nonentity who was offered a room in the attic of Willard s Hotel until the clerk saw his name to the death of Jefferson Davis Foote is a southerner after all Really great work it s taken me a couple of years to read it.There I think Fo I couldn t find a listing for just Volume 3 Red River to Appomattox which I finished this year Last year I read the first two volumes This is the last volume which covered Grant arriving in Washington to take up duties as commander and looking like a scruffy nonentity who was offered a room in the attic of Willard s Hotel until the clerk saw his name to the death of Jefferson Davis Foote is a southerner after all Really great work it s taken me a couple of years to read it.There I think Foote focused on the South , but not to the extent of being unfair I was amazed that the death of Lincoln was treated relatively perfunctorily but it may be that I was disappointed because I had been so wrapped up in the assassination details and the plot details to kill Seward and Stanton too in Goodwin s Team of Rivals, which I had just read, that this one seemed decidedly minimilist And the book ended with Jefferson Davis going back to Mississippi actually it ended with the death of Davis many years later as if only then was the war really over I gathered there was considerable admiration for Davis on Foote s part Me, I d never considered Davis as a person at all I had considered Alexander Stephens partly because that was my husband s name Something else I read awhile ago possibly McPherson detailed his friendship with Lincoln when they were both together in Congress many years before.I m not one for military details, but I found Foote s focus on mistakes of southern generals like Hood and Johnson always forget whether it was Johnson or Johnston I mean Joseph Johnson interesting They seemed to do little right while Sherman did everything right and I sense there was even some affection for him on Foote s part And I was surprised that he didn t make as much as other histories I ve read of the possibility of generals not surrendering and continuing a guerilla war for years I thought he downplayed Nathan Bedford Forrest too, in that regard but also just as a Southern hero.Still I m no Civil War expert and no matter how hard I try, it s the people and the human events that engage methan the battles and the strategy Foote is very good at that If Red River to Appomattox ended with the death of Jefferson Davis, it began with Grant s coming to Washington and being taken for a run of the mill nonentity general when he asked for a room at Willard s hotel until he signed his name I d not have persisted through all the battles if his dealing with people and his ability to conjure up memorable vignettes were not so good OMG It took me like 4 fuckin months to read this colossus, but I finally finished it all 3, 1000 page volumes And yes it totally lives up to the hype It s a wonderful, masterful piece of narrative history A treasure.It s also the most homoerotic thing I ve read in a long time Real talk Every other sentence was like Lee penetrated deep into Johnson s rear and exploded Not that there s anything wrong with thatAs a nearly irrelevant aside, the cover lists the Civil War as one of OMG It took me like 4 fuckin months to read this colossus, but I finally finished it all 3, 1000 page volumes And yes it totally lives up to the hype It s a wonderful, masterful piece of narrative history A treasure.It s also the most homoerotic thing I ve read in a long time Real talk Every other sentence was like Lee penetrated deep into Johnson s rear and exploded Not that there s anything wrong with thatAs a nearly irrelevant aside, the cover lists the Civil War as one of National Review s 100 best nonfiction books of the century , which I am totally down for, but I googled it and the book ranks 97th on the list That feels vaguely misleading on the part of the publisher It s technically true, yes, but you have to admit, it s a little shady to say.As I mentioned, the book is epically long It s great, but it s really insanely long By the time you get to Appomattox, you re like, come on, this is great and all, but end this thing already And they do, but there s like 800 pages to go after that Yow Then, the Lincoln assignation is handled in like 10 pages It s over before you know it And there is still like 500 pages to go Whatever I absolutely LOVED this book, and I also could not wait to be finished with it So that s the best I can do It s Shelby Foote s epic masterpiece life s work, and that s what I have to say about it.That s the internet for you Give Joe Everyman a platform and guys like me feel entitled to weigh in and critique a masterwork of literature with less effort invested than the author spent on any given page.As DJT is oft to say..SAD In the end the book and of course the horrific history it accounts is as tragic and awful as it gets Similarly tragic is the painful recapitulation of the horrors of the reconstruction we Americans are suffering at present.As the clich would have it We are doomed to suffer and suffer again the nauseating ripples and echoes of the legacy of American history, if we fail to process all of its effects, heal its ghastly wounds and commit once and for all to a fundamentally better way moving forward.Good history and really good historians may be our best hope for escaping the ruts of the cannonades and wagon trains that preceded us Our current state of affairs begs the question, how manypopulist uprisings are we to endure before we shed the scaled husk of tribalism and embrace aenlightened way Hopefully, the 3000 pages of the clarity, eloquence, detail and wit contained in this narrative will serve as a bulwark against the assault of the 140 280 characters worth of practical retardation that currently pound away at our dignity and intelligence like the confederate cannons pounded the walls of fort Sumpter.I m giving this particular civil war monument what it plainly deserves Five shining stars hold the bars I have read this set half a dozen times for a while there I re read them every summer Foote was a novelist before he was a historian, and it shows in his style The books give a fairly even handed treatment of the military history of the American civil war, using actual quotes to flesh out the interactions among the characters to a surprising extent One of the best histories I ve ever read. Shelby Foote was the silver haired gentleman with the Robert E Lee beard who had such interesting anecdotes to tell during Ken Burns s documentary series The Civil War How do you think he got that job By writing this trilogy, that s how Umpty ump thousand pages, and he did it on paper With a dip pen no less He said, in an interview I saw, that he got a better rhythm that way I believe it Often I find myself turning to pen and paper too, although I ve never gone so far as dip pens There Shelby Foote was the silver haired gentleman with the Robert E Lee beard who had such interesting anecdotes to tell during Ken Burns s documentary series The Civil War How do you think he got that job By writing this trilogy, that s how Umpty ump thousand pages, and he did it on paper With a dip pen no less He said, in an interview I saw, that he got a better rhythm that way I believe it Often I find myself turning to pen and paper too, although I ve never gone so far as dip pens There s certainly nothing wrong with this trilogy s writing style Foote goes into great detail and makes the time live and breathe It is a classic history if it were about half as long it would be better known, but it wouldn t go into the depth of detail that makes it unique.Like all Civil War histories, the interesting and exciting parts are at the beginning By the end of the war all the illusions had been stripped away The armies of both sides had gone from eager volunteers out for adventure to bitter veterans and unwilling draftees engaged in an industrial war of attrition from the fifes and drums of the Revolution to the trench warfare of Verdun and Flanders, in four years The Civil War taught anyone who had eyes to see that if war ever had been bright flags and heroic adventure, which it hadn t, of course, it wasn t that now, and it never would be again In fact, it had become so horrible that we couldn t even lie to ourselves about it any.Or so you d like to think.In any case, by the time I got to the end of this trilogy I was wondering how much longer the blood and suffering could go on Until every drop of blood drawn by the lash is repaid by one drawn by the sword, apparently and beyond For all that, anyone interested in the United States should read a good history of the Civil War, and this is one of the best As Foote himself said, everything the United States has become since, good and bad, we became because of this war May 3, 20113 volumes, 1000 pages each this is going to take a while But I ve just finished Volume 1 Fort Sumpter to Perryville and since at this rate I won t finish the whole thing for another year I thought I d make some initial notes Basically this is glorious I m not a Civil War buff, and I m certainly not interested in getting down into the weeds of whether Foote gets this or that detail exactly right, or is fair or unfair to this or that general The things that impress here May 3, 20113 volumes, 1000 pages each this is going to take a while But I ve just finished Volume 1 Fort Sumpter to Perryville and since at this rate I won t finish the whole thing for another year I thought I d make some initial notes Basically this is glorious I m not a Civil War buff, and I m certainly not interested in getting down into the weeds of whether Foote gets this or that detail exactly right, or is fair or unfair to this or that general The things that impress here are 1 the sheer scope of the enterprise, and 2 the fact that Foote can take something of the size and complexity of the Civil War and render it intelligible, and in prose that always pleases and sometimes sings He also does that thing that I think is too rarely seen is histories and is one of the reasons I so liked Brand s biography of Ben Franklin he renders historical figures as fully human rather than as a collection of waxworks dummies on display You really can make a case for these books being our Iliad, or at the very least our History of the Peloponnesian War it s a shame they re notwidely read, the intimidating length notwithstanding That s how I feel about it now, anyway See you in 4 6 months October 25, 2013Well, that was longer than 4 6 months, but I ve now got Volume 2 Fredericksburg to Meridian under my belt, and continue to be impressed by Foote s erudition and delighted by his storytelling The stand out in this volume is, unsurprisingly, Gettysburg I ve never understood either the nature or significance of the battle the way I do now that I ve read Foote s account But in some ways Gettysburg is marginal to the great theme of the volume the search for a winning Union general, and the Union s salvation in Grant This is a story masterfully told, and I m eager to begin Volume 3, which will open with Grant s elevation to overall Union commander.August 30, 2014It is accomplished All told, it took only slightly longer to fight the Civil War than it did for me to read Foote s account of it, but my opinion remains unchanged this is an absolute masterpiece There s much that s worth praising in the third volume the balanced assessments of Grant and Sherman, the dignity of Lee, the blind stubbornness verging on monomania of Jefferson Davis in defeat But the greatest praise must go to the overall impact I feel like I truly understand the War now in ways I never have, in spite of a lifetime spent reading American history My only quibble is that the reader hasn t lived with this material the way Foote did, and so it s a bit hard to keep up when Foote tosses off a casual reference to something that happened 2500 pages ago But that s a minor quibble with this major work, both of history and of storytelling Foote s comprehensive history of the Civil War includes three compelling volumes Fort Sumter to Perryville, Fredericksburg to Meridian, and Red River to Appomattox Collected together in a handsome boxed set, this is the perfect gift for any Civil War buffFort Sumter to Perryville 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 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 ReviewFredericksburg to Meridian This, then, is narrative history a kind of history that goes back to an older literary tradition The writing is superbone of the historical and literary achievements of our time The Washington Post Book World Gettysburgis described with such meticulous attention to action, terrain, time, and the characters of the various commanders that I understand, at last, what happened in that battle Mr Foote has an acute sense of the relative importance of events and a novelist s skill in directing the reader s attention to the men and the episodes that will influence the course of the whole war, without omitting items which are of momentary interest His organization of facts could hardly be bettered AtlanticRed River to Appomattox An unparalleled achievement, an American Iliad, a unique work uniting the scholarship of the historian and the high readability of the first class novelist Walker Percy I have never read a better, vivid, understandable account of the savage battling between Grant s and Lee s armies


About the Author: Shelby Foote

Shelby Dade Foote, Jr was an American novelist and a noted historian of the American Civil War, writing a massive, three volume history of the war entitled The Civil War A Narrative With geographic and cultural roots in the Mississippi Delta, Foote s life and writing paralleled the radical shift from the agrarian planter system of the Old South to the Civil Rights era of the New South Foote was relatively unknown to the general public for most of his career until his appearance in Ken Burns s PBS documentary The Civil War in 1990, where he introduced a generation of Americans to a war that he believed was central to all our lives.


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