The best (and most entertaining) Civil War histories ever written. I would go as far as to say the 3 volumes are the best and most entertaining historical narrative ever written!
Whether or not you're deeply into the Civil War, and no matter what facet of the war you're interested in, you will find something new and interesting in this book. Foote wonderfully crafts bios on major figures, military tactics, social pressures, and everyday life of the Civil War into one virtually seemless story that entertains as well as informs. Mr. Gardner has a very resonant voice that sounds both scholarly and like a voice from the 19th century, all at the same time. Highly recommended!
I read all three volumes twenty years ago and enjoyed them immensely. I never thought I read them again until I got an iPod and found Audible.com. I've gone through the first book in a little over two weeks, reading it the first time took over two months. I like the reader's voice, although he doesn't realize how some names should be pronounce (i.e., Cairo is pronounced 'kay-row' in southern Illinois). I look forward to listening to the other two books.
As a black American who grew up in Washington, DC, I never had ANYTHING good to say about the Confederacy. Reading this series only proved my personal credo "Racism is born out of ignorance". Guess who was a hypocritical, ignorant racist? ME!!! I discovered that I knew about as much about the Civil War as I was taught in school about African-American and black Americans - NOTHING!!! Oh, we got a smidgen on George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass but only enough to fill a thimble. Although my family home was just 3 blocks from Fort Stevens where the Confederate army almost took Washington and where President Lincoln was almost killed by a Confederate army, we never learned the amazing story behind the fort which we used as a playground.
This series of books covers the Civil War from "A to Z". They are extremely well-researched, providing little-known information about this historical fight. I came away with a new respect for the South for fighting and dying for a cause in which they believed in totally. I learned that the Civil War wasn't about white people hating black people (although there were quite a few whites who held the ridiculous belief that we weren't even humans). The war between the North and South was more about the economic necessity for cheap labor to maintain America's dominance in agriculture which fueled Europe's dominance as an industrialist giant. And the proof was in the South's total destruction after the Emancipation Proclamation. Rich plantation owners were broke, busted and bankrupt. No cotton or sugar - no money.
I have a new-found respect for Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee and the multitudes of Confederate soldiers who lost their lives fighting to maintain their way of life. Of course, as a descendant of slaves, I'm glad that the North prevailed. It's just unfortunate that the South couldn't see past their noses and let over 20,000 skilled black artisans (carpenters, blacksmiths, seamstresses, etc.) leave for the North instead of revamping the South by becoming the nations center of furniture makers, ironworks, and purveyors of clothes for the rich and poor. To compound the country's total lack of vision, the alleged Northern abolitionists lost out also because it gave these new black citizens jobs as cooks, maids, nannies - actually, let's just call "a spade a spade: "Mammies" - butlers, house boys, and manual laborers.
That said, Shelby Foote gives a well-rounded objective insight into a much misunderstood war that didn't really advance America's narrow-minded view of the people it brought to these shores in bondage and oppressed for more than a century after this horrible conflagration. But I thank him for helping me see the Confederacy from a different and enlightening perspective. I had lived in Atlanta, GA for 15 years when I read this book. My northern family and friends couldn't understand how I could stand the "racist South" with its "good ole boy" attitude. That is something I have never experienced in Georgia. I don't worry about the Confederate flag or the hero leaders of the Civil War which are carved in the side of Stone Mountain, like Mount Rushmore. In all my years there, I was never called a "nigger" not once. Yet, after moving to Phoenix, AZ, I was called "nigger" four times in my first six months here. Has this country learned nothing? I still consider myself a "Georgia Peach".
According to Shelby Foote's amazing account, the south has nothing to be ashamed of for fighting for what it believed was right at the time. Now if the whole country can learn from past mistakes and move forward as a COMPLETE country - white, black, brown, red, yellow or purple with pink polka dots - we will be ready as a nation to defend our shores from foreign threats. Reading this book is the first step in the right direction,
If you've never read a civil war book before, I'd recommend reading another book that provides a short overview before delving into this series. It has so much detail that you can lose the forest for the trees if its your first foray into this subject. Its also possible to not understand the import of some of the events because Foote does such a solid job of just telling the story, without providing much commentary or characterization. So, in short, you'll get more out of this if its not your first introduction to the civil war. That said, the thing that surprised me about it was how well written it is and how refreshingly free from moral judgment it is. Some parts of it are also genuinely moving - especially Stonewall's death. The battle of Gettysburg is so well done it could be a book by itself. I hope other historical authors are taking a lesson from Foote - this is exactly how to do it.
Excellent narrative on a complex topic, flows nicely. Constant mix of interesting side stories about the lives and interactions of people involved in the different battles of the many armies and navys fighting throughout the south and midwest. Many of the battles presented with much excitement and ausome details.
The author has succeeded at presenting a very balanced account of the peoples and governments views and opinions, politics and moods of both the Union and Confederate countries and how all were affected.
Nothing else in the history of the USA has done more to forge this country into what it is today... this is a very moving account of why, covered in three volumes.
This is flat out my favorite book. From the first page to the last it is full of great stories and wonderful characters. All the great battles are brought to life. I was never especially interested in the Civil War period, but this book hooked me. I have heard two audio versions and they are both excellent. Grover Gardner is a very fine reader and the sound is clear. The odd mispronunciation shouldn't bother anyone. Historians will always differ on interpretation and emphasis, but Shelby Foote gives a pretty balanced account. It's hard for me to imagine anyone listening to the first volume without getting the last two. This book is too much fun to miss.
Bill Franklin, Ph.D.
This sweeping history of the Civil War took Foote, who died in 2005, 20 years to write, and it took me over 4 months of listening during my 1-1/2 hour round trip commute to my office. The three volumes represent over 136 hours of listening, every minute of which provides fascinating insights. I found myself actually eager to make my commute and get back to the story. I was sorry when it came to its end. I will undoubtedly listen to it again in the future.
I have been a student of the Civil War all of my life. My great-great grandfather rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest and two of his brothers were killed in the battle for Atlanta where I live among historic markers that tell the story of that struggle that was fought here over 140 years ago.
Every American should read or listen to this epic narrative told by a Mississippi story-teller. His is a balanced account, neither pro-North nor pro-South, a quality sadly lacking in the revisionist histories being produced today.
The civil war was truly a defining moment in American history ! Shelby Foote was a man who through his pen brought us face to face with the titanic figures of this war. He brings us into the personal lives of so many "yankees" and "rebs" common foot soldiers, officers, Generals, civilans, and the common folk; I found it both terrifing and unbelievable as letters are read, relationships long since gone into history once again alive and breathing life into my ears.
I laughed heartily and I cried deeply for the people of this historical event called the Civil War. I love Shelby's way of writing and his gentle, warm southern charm; this comes seeps through the book everywhere. The late Mr. Foote was brutally honest to both sides and maintain a fair and very well balanced view of the civil war.
I cannot do this book justice in writing this review by my words - this book - The Civil War by Shelby Foote is something that you Audible listener MUST experience for yourself !! As you listen time fades away as you stand transfixed on the events unfolding right there before your eyes and ears.
Every single person must listen to this book as it touchs on every single issue that you will every encounter in your life. Download this book now YOUR experience is waiting !! :)
Even though it is not Shelby Foote reading his narrative, I can almost see him smiling as the ironies and quirky stories unfold. This book is far different and far better than I expected. It truly is a narrative and not a dull history treatise. It is written impartially from neither a Southern nor Northern perspective. The noble intentions and motivations of participants from both sides come through vividly.
Anyone who has seen the Ken Burns Civil War series will see the similarity to the amusing anecdotes related by the smiling Shelby Foote in that series. If you enjoyed his contributions to that show and have any level of interest in the American Civil War, you will enjoy this great book!