The book is generally well-written. It is less a military history and more a series of biographical vignettes. The book is a bit repetitious, right down to sentence fragments and even whole sentences being repeated in close enough proximity to be noticeable.
I would prefer a different narrator. Grover Gardner's voice is high pitched and nasal with an almost whinny quality to it. The audio editing, as others have noted, is below average with occasional fluctuations in volume, fullness, etc.
Well, I'm very focused on certain books. You have all the Asimov books I want, but by some unbelievable oversight, no Robots and Empire!
Reviewing Shelby Foote's narrative is almost as complicated as the material it proposes to explain. Brining the Civil War to the average reader (listener) is difficult in itself; it is grim history, and that is the only thing everyone agrees on. Limited to facts, it's dry and short, because every piece of information comes from the writing of those intimately involved in a radical clash of viewpoints, so facts come in the form of dates, names, and sometimes, numbers. Foote endeavored, therefore, to put a narrative forward, not a history, and as such, this is a masterwork. But even Foote had his point of view, as a Mississippian in the late 1950's to early 1960's, and so it is good to know as much history as there is before diving into the nearly six full days of solid narration. Foote's bias is, not surprisingly, toward the south, and is very subtle, so if you know the history as well as the average student, you will find yourself filling in the blanks without thought. Blanks are the primary vehicle of bias for Foote, along with some understatement, a little overstatement, and conclusions that are not wrong, but not provable either. The bias also tends to highlight the deeds of armies, which are not the main focus of the narrative, which makes itself indispensable by tying the economy, politics, interpersonal military relationships, even the weather, into a story that the reader will not put down after the first chapter of dusty names and numbers. In this way it has not only become shorthand for historians, but appeals to academicians and casual readers alike. As I said, it is complicated, but less that 5 stars of 5 is not a credible score.
The performance is almost flawless. This may sound like hyperbole, but I've listened to it backward and forward, and it doesn't get old; Gardner's reading is both businesslike and interesting, and aside for a problem pronouncing Spanish town names in New Mexico, hits names, dates, intonation, inflection, structure and cadence despite the quaint turn of phrase from the 1860's, the complicated sentences that Foote enjoyed, and the rapid change from dry humor to dark descriptions that litter the text. It is completely enjoyable.
The weakness of this package is the overall quality. I was disappointed to find that the recording is noticeably uneven, making editing breaks so obvious as to be distracting at times. Even so, the Gardner and Foote make this, warts notwithstanding, something that anyone interested in our country's first major course correction.
The quality of Shelby Foote's work is wonderful, so I was pleasantly surprised to be offered the Audible title at a discount to accompany the equivalent Kindle title.
The "sandpaper" narrator voice took some getting used to, but seemed to fit the book as it went along. Good sound quality, well done.
My gripe is with the Byzantine ways one has to learn about "whispersync for voice", or, the lack of it in many titles, which is a let down in this case, when the Audible title is offered to precisely that end alongside the Kindle version from the Kindle store.
The running narration highlights and the narrator voice start out in sync, but get out of it somehow when occasional reading is done seperately and then seem un-sync-able. As the reader is encouraged inside the book to use "Immersion Reading" using the sound controls this first is hilarious, then turns to frustration when nought can be done to sync both media.
I would strongly advice Audible and Amazon to advice about this better, in advance, or disable Immersion Reading when whispersinc for voice is not available because it is very uncaracteristic to deliver such a frustrating experience.
These 3 series have served to explain a war, a rebellion and the true birth of our nation.
I want so much to love this book, because it is clearly so well written and fascinating. Unfortunately, for me at least, this book just doesn't work in audiobook format.
Both Volume 1 and Volume 2 are so filled with names and dates and places, that it starts to become a blur. There are so many details in this book that I couldn't keep up with the narrative.
The only way I could appreciate reading Shelby Foote is if I had the text in front of me so I could read at my own pace. With so many details coming at you, it's necessary to be able to slow down and even go back over paragraphs so you can get it all clear. Also I believe it is almost impossible to keep up with the flow of events without a map in front of you.
I listen to audiobooks mostly during my commute, so maps and slow reading becomes pretty much impossible. It's tough to keep rewinding for 30 seconds at a time to hear a tough passage again.
I'm writing not so much to criticize the book, but to let others know that it can be difficult to keep up without the text and maps in front of you. I'm sure many can keep up with the pace without aids, but I'm not one of those people. I suffered through Volume 1, and ended up returning Volume 2. Thank you Audible for your liberal return policy.
It ranks high in the Civil War audiobooks I've listened to.
Shelby Foote includes many humorous moments in the narrative that add depth and humanity to the appalling carnage that was the U.S. Civil War. Soldiers enduring unimaginable conditions often saw humor in the worst of it.
Gardner has a certain wry tone that fits the telling of a book written about the the Civil War.
Get to know the Civil War as never before!
My depth of knowledge of the Civil War has been enhanced by listening to Foote's excellent narrative. Probably not for those who don't have a basic knowledge of the war, however. Being familiar with the major characters and general flow of the war is very helpful.
I'm not sure what is meant by a narrative history. I almost didn't buy it because of the title and that would have been a tragedy. The genius of the book and this applies to all three of books is the authors ability to give life to the great characters of the civil war. Grover Gardner is the perfect reader for this book and is able to communicate the irony and humor as well as the tragedy and heroism. Shelby even gave me new insights into Lincoln which I didn't think was possible, Mr. Foote's writing style and story telling is as good as any suspense novel I've ever read. There was a lot of attention given to Jefferson Davis which was fine with me because I didn't know anything about him and Lincoln is more human in this story of the civil war than any I have read. I was sad when I finished the book not because of the story or the people of the story but because it was over. Its been a long time since I've read (or in this case listened to )something I couldn't put down.
Shelby Foote's three-volume work is fantastic. When it comes to historical narratives, it takes the cake as far as detailed accounts of the conflicts, both between the northern and southern military regimes, but also of the inner struggles of major characters on both sides. Not only are key issues covered in detail, but, rather than merely stating facts, the author created an eloquent recital of events that keeps the listener/reader interested. (At least, it did this for me. I imagine that if it was simply a straight compilation of listed facts then it wouldn't be considered the must-read that it is when it comes to a key portion of the US's history.) Whether it's the details of military conflict, the planning before and after such events, the social and political conundrums of the day, the emancipation of slaves, or even the happenings in major characters' personal lives, Foote did an amazing job of setting the events down on paper.
Grover Gardner does an excellent job of narrating this piece, too. Considering the book's large amount of direct quotes of conversations, speeches, and letters, Gardner applies a subtle change to his tone which lets the listener/reader know that quotation marks go around what he's reading - an excellent touch that you'll become familiar with quickly. His voice is very clear and eloquent, too, so there won't be a problem understanding what he's reading. Nicely done, sir!
Absolutely- provided it was someone interested in learning about the civil war in exquisite detail... 3 volumes (>130 hrs) is a bit too much of a commitment for a the casual listener interested in a survey of the civil war.
Grover Gardener does a fantastic job with taking on Shelby Foote's unequaled three volume work on the civil war. I had been intimidated by the shear volume of Foote's narrative and took a chance with this one- I was not disappointed. This truly is a narrative and is perfectly suited to the audio-book medium.While not for the casual reader, if you want to know who was who, who they really were, and what really happened, I don't think there is another book out there to match this one.I highly recommend it to anyone interested in US history.
This probably should not be a novice's introduction to the civil war as it is so detailed that keeping track of all the politicians, generals and battles can be confusing; this is especially true when Foote jumps back and forth between scenes. The chronology is a bit confusing too if you are not familiar with the dates of the battles, especially if two or more battles are being fought simultaneously. I found that having a good civil war map and battle timeline (which I found on the web) helped a great deal. Also, because it is so long, listening to it in fast mode helps get through the massive details quicker.
However, it is very worth while listening to it, as it is an interesting history with lots of background and personality information. A novice will probably want to listen at least twice.
I am looking forward to listening to part II.