Here begins one of the most remarkable works of history ever fashioned. All the great battles are here, of course, from Bull Run through Shiloh, the Seven Days, Second Manassas to Antietam, and Perryville in the fall of 1862, but so are the smaller and often equally important engagements on both land and sea: Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island Ten, New Orleans, Monitor versus Merimac, and Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign, to mention only a few.
And perhaps never before have these conflicts been so clearly, so dramatically, and so excitingly presented. The word "narrative" is the key, not only to this extraordinary book's incandescence, but also to its truth. The story is told entirely from the point of view of the people involved in it. The listener not only learns what was happening in the North and South, on the political, military, diplomatic, and home fronts, he lives through the events as if he were there. This is the way it was, in its entirety, as far as Shelby Foote could discover it during years of exhaustive research.
Bonus: In partnership with Audible and Playtone, the television and film producer behind the award-winning series Band of Brothers, John Adams, and The Pacific, this audiobook includes an original introduction, written and read by acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns. For more from Audible and Playtone, click here.
©1986 Shelby Foote (P)2011 Blackstone Audio
Foote's narrative history of the war is beautifully written. Once you start reading (or listening), you're hooked. This 3-vol. set of recordings, however, leaves a lot to be desired. There is background feedback which is very prevalent in volumes 1 and 2, and the narrator mispronounces many names (example, Kanawha). The most unforgivable aspect of the recordings however, is found in the third and final volume in which entire seven-hour chunks of the book are not broken into subsections. When listening on an iPod, it's very easy to brush the controls and cause it to go backwards or forwards an entire section. When there are no subsections, this means holding the fast forward (or reverse) button down through hours of narration trying to find your place. It only happened to me once, but that was frustrating enough. The book gets 5 stars, but the audio version leaves a lot to be desired.
I loved every minute of each of the three volumes of Shelby Foote's masterpiece. It was a deeply facinating journey through those tumultous times and events. I felt this audiobook bought to life the great charachters and personalities that defined the Civil War. Grover Gardners reading of this was outstanding and suited perfectly to the subject.
I am quite enjoying this story; it's lively, interesting, well-told. Blackstone Audio's bargain-basement production values, however, distract terribly from the audiobook. While the primary narrator is a fairly skilled reader, his abilities are lacking in some points, including, as mentioned by another reviewer, pronunciation; various words are mispronounced throughout the book, and I puzzled for some time (in disbelief and amusement) over Foote's describing one Army general as "flamboyant in a dress" before I figured out that he meant the general was "flamboyant in address" - a point which could have been clarified with the proper pronunciation. Another problem with the narrator is his simply having been chosen for the job, because his voice has a somewhat grating nasal quality I found it more difficult to get past than I usually do such narrators' quirks. But worst of all are the numerous terrible, obvious overdubs by DIFFERENT NARRATORS that we're supposed to just take in stride and not notice at all. There are in fact at least three and possibly four different narrators' voices heard in this first volume, with the dubbed-in narrators' voices even more grating than Mr. Gardner's, and the combination of their vocal qualities and the abrupt, brief, and obvious drop-ins in which they're heard are so distracting that I seldom assimilate what's said during the overdubs because my mind is stuck in its disbelief that Blackstone would let such glaring flaws make it into the final version of the audiobook. It's really pathetic.
Also, one quality of the written book that doesn't translate well into audio is the way Foote will mention a person by name once and then refer to him exclusively by second-person pronouns for minutes on end, such that if you missed the one mention of his name earlier on, you may have no idea who's being talked about for five minutes at a time.
So in the end, this book is enjoyable, but I'd probably recommend reading it over listening to it.
I have read the entire set and am now listening to it too. It is good history and a good read -- almost impossible to put down despite the wealth of detail. Eminently fair in perspective.
The recorded version is very well done.
I have read Foote's three volume Civil War Narrative twice and thought I would give the audio version a try. Excellent narration of Foote's fine work. Highly recommended and certainly one of best audiobooks around.
This is one of those pieces for which it is difficult to write a review. I find myself searching for some priority of commedatory adjectives. Is it superlative, or outstanding? Excellent or remarkable? In the end, I would like to offer Mr. Foote my thanks, shake his hand, and buy him a beer - he deserves no less
THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS BOOK SHOULD GIVE EVERYONE A PERSPECTIVE OF THE WAR AND IT'S REAL UNDERTONES. THE NARRATOR LEAVES A LOT TO BE DESIRED.
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