Foote has a in-depth knowledge of the civil war. he offers it in a laid back, comfortable, good read. humanity's struggle is offered in these pages, not just statistics and a map.
My respect and awe for this book knows no boundaries. Although as a narrative it is not footnoted (as I wish it were) to me it is the authoritative work on the civil war. I particularly like his focus on the personalities of this great conflict. I now feel personally acquainted with Davis, Lincoln, Grant, Lee, Jackson, McClellan, Stanton and countless others. I am going to immediately plunge into volume 3. Can't wait.
Not in the least. I commute a lot and audiobooks are a blessing to me. But nothing beats being able to reread a line without using some sort of machine to go back over and over again. And the smell of actual print books are a cerebral aphrodisiac to me.
The only ones that come to mind are Volumes I and III. Shelby Foote's writing style and hard earned research are unique to me in the world of history books. I find most history books to be one of three styles:
1. Heady tomes filled with data and a complete lack of personality that read like a list of dates and events which I find to have nothing to do with life or understanding a time or events.
2. Re-hashes and books that capitalize on the popularity of a subject where mediocre authors get book deals to say nothing new at an infantile reading level that lack insight and contain less data than a 30 minute television show with 8 minutes of commercials.
3. Books like this which immerse one in the times and the characters from first to last page. A writer like this on a subject like this can broaden one's horizons, teach one about a time and people from the past, and introduce one to a subject so broad and allow one to understand deeply and sincerely what really could have gone on before you and I walked this planet.
Ken Burns's documentary is legendary. His introductions are completely skippable. I believe anyone with eyes and ears knows how integral Shelby Foote was to his Civil War documentary. Although it was nice to hear that Foote enjoyed Grover Gardner's reading of this fine work.
There certainly was. It happens from after Ken Burns's introduction and stops right before audible thanks the listener for listening.
Because of this three volume series I understand and sympathize with both sides and do not hold the grudge against the south that this New England man used to when I had such a poor understanding of the conflict and the characters involved. Shelby Foote was an amazing writer, an amazing historian, and, from what I see and hear from interviews and his role in the documentary, an amazing man. Thank you for reading.
Excellent review of the middle war years. Bring previous forgotten facts to listener. Puts facts to the major players on both sides....good listen!
I like to read but listening is better.
After reading the first volume you'll be used to Shelby Foote's style by now, and you'll reach that most enjoyable stage of books on tape when listening to the book starts to feel like a part of your normal routine.
If McClelland and Jackson were the stars of the first volume, Lee and Grant are the stars of Volume II. Gettysburg and the different assaults on Vicksburg are the highlights of this book.
There are a couple of things I have noticed about Foote's books. He covers all of the action during the war, regardless of the size and scope. Therefore there are many engagements and stories in this book that listeners most likely haven't read about before. More importantly, I feel like Foote's descriptions of major battles are so different it's as if I've never read about any of them before.
Grover Gardner is the best.
a life's work. the three volumes are consistently engaging. reads like a exceptional novel. edge of your seat story that turns out to be actual history.
Runner, Commuter, Dietitian with a passion for U.S. History.
The second superb volume of Shelby Foote's trilogy comprehensively describes events that receive short shrift in the history books, media and popular imagination - the Western Theater of the Civil War. While Gettysburg and Chancellorsville are presented in detail, it was fascinating to learn about the ironclads, tinclads and gunboats lumbering up the bayous and moss strewn tributaries of the Mississippi River, searching in vain for a route around the murderous batteries at Vicksburg; Grant's bender during the boredom, futility and frustration of the struggle for the Mississippi; the heroism of both the Union's Black regiments and the Confederate general at Port Hudson, Louisiana; and how hapless, frustrated blue-blood Philadelphia native and CSA general Pemberton begs in vain for assistance from the Confederate leadership in breaking Grant's unrelenting siege of Vicksburg.
As with the other volumes, basic understanding of Civil War battle chronology, geography, tactics, and the political as well as cultural landscape is a prerequisite to add necessary depth and context to the volumes. Unless you have an extensive background in Civil War history, these aren't stand-alone volumes. The level of detail can easily become overwhelming. Part of the enrichment is exploring other Civil War history resources - websites, documentaries, battlefields, museums, and other published materials - that enable the reader to place Foote's magnificent writing into context.
The finest praise I have for a book is that I'm not the same person I was after having read it. I discovered this standing in front of the public library in Erie, PA. To my surprise, as I had no idea where he was from, there stood a statue of Strong Vincent, defender of the Union Flank at Little Round Top. Having died of his wounds five days after the battle, he's one of the soldiers that you don't hear much about. His is a sad story; tears welled up as I offered a prayer of thanksgiving that his country had deep enough meaning for him to sacrifice his life. There are numerous examples like his on both Union and Confederate sides. The war was bloody and the tactics were brutal, delivering a tragic, almost unimaginable and horrific loss of life. Perhaps most frustrating was the lack of progress for the rights of African Americans, coming to halt after passage of the 15th amendment. However, when you tour the battlefields, the long and almost forgotten dead seem to speak to you from an era when Americans acted upon deeply felt ideals. The ideals were often flawed, but the sentiment and the actions that resulted were profound and resonate to the present day.
Foote's prose is simply elegant. Perhaps a shame that he himself did not do the reading although his doing so would merely been an enhancement to an otherwise fine job.
This book is a must read for any true student of the American Civil War. It will take you places you've never heard of that yet are integral to understanding how this immensely complex story unfolds.