The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume I 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 Battles, and Antietam, but so are the smaller ones: Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island Ten, New Orleans, and Monitor versus Merrimac.
The word narrative is the key to this extraordinary book's incandescence and its truth. The story is told entirely from the point of view of the people involved in it. One learns not only what was happening on all fronts but also how the author discovered it during his years of exhaustive research. This first volume in Shelby Foote's comprehensive history is a must-listen for anyone interested in one of the bloodiest wars in America's history.
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
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.
I read several other reviewers complaints about the narration, so I listened to the preview to see if it was as bad as they had said. The preview, which I listened to on my laptop's poor speaker, sounded alright. I wasn't thrilled with the vocals, but it was listenable, and the source material (the book content itself) sounded so well written, as I had expected based on all I had heard about this series. So I purchased the book.
Unfortunately, the listening experience didn't follow to my car audio, which is top-notch. I've listened to a number of books there, and all have been fantastic up to now. However, I couldn't make it through the first 5 minutes of this one. The effect I experienced was similar to that you get when you hear fingernails on a chalkboard. I hoped that I had downloaded a lower-quality version, so I shut this book off (actually switched to another book, Hyperion, which sounded great) until I could check, but this was the "High" quality download to my iPhone.
I don't believe that Gardner's voice is the problem, as much as it is the audio encoding of his voice. His somewhat nasal sound results in some seriously disruptive audio once encoded digitally. I'm sure that this could be corrected with re-encoding, and it's a serious shame that such work should be tainted in this way.
I seem to recall from when I signed up that Audible guarantees the books, so I guess I need to research how to take advantage of this since all my other listening experiences have been great so far. I'm going to try a couple of other things first (other devices which might download a difference audio format), and I'll update the review if anything changes.
One of the joys of watching Ken Burns' series was being introduced to Shelby Foote. Listening to such a gentleman tell the story as if he had been there added so much. I've read the books but listening to them has added to my understanding. The saddest thing about today's education is that the young are not taught the truth. Mr. Foote's books are a treasure.
Inflection and pace
What? Did Barbara Walters make up this question?
This work quickly becomes an old friend. Shelby Foote is a magnificent writer, and Grover Gardner is also one of my favourite readers from Audible; he gives it the feel of a timeless classic.
The story needs to told like this. I want to know what happened and not someone opinion of what happened is.
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