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
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.
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.
I have given this book 4 stars based on the extraordinary writting and storytelling ability of the author Shelby Foote. It is a massive and riveting account of the War told in detail but never boring.
It fails to rate a fifth star due the narration of the book. The sound quality is uneven and the reader takes long pauses when there seems to be no natural break in the text, and then goes rambling on at places where there seems to be a natual break in the text.
The most annoying aspect of the reader was his habit of mispronouncing place names and the names of people. Anyone with an interest in the Civil War or 19th century American history will be familiar with the names that are being mispronounced and I am sure like me will find it disconcerting.
These are minor problems with what is overall a great piece of writing and a wonderful story.
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.
A must for all students of Civil War history. The audio version simply draws you in... I can't wait for vol. 2.
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.
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!
For those with an interest in history and the period, I found this together with the two companion volumes terrific.
I think it is best to take this book with it's companion volumes together as a whole work. And in my opinion as a narrative history it stands apart.
Excellent throughout, captures both the all areas of the book very well.
Both, Shelby Foote's written work is brought to life by Grover Gardner's rendition.
"The Civil War"
A great, comprehensive history. Foote is excellent at detailing the battles and characters that shaped the US Civil War, and the research behind this is mind boggling. At well over 100 hrs this is not a casual read, but its at all times interesting and often compelling - well worth it. If you want a single volume on this conflict, check out Battle Cry of Freedom, but if you want to really get the detail, particularly for the key battles, then I would highly recommend this. Narration was good too, in my opinion.
"The Civil War Volume 1 by Shelby Foote"
My interest in this was kindled by watching the marvelous Ken Burns TV programmes of Footes' Civil War trilogy. Having read the books, which is daunting enough, I can confirm that listening to them is not for the fainhearted - you need to have a good grasp of the names and the topography to follow the parallel tactical, strategic and social narratives and know your Fed from your Reb. But if you are a serious student of military history these books are a true delight. I use the examples provided of both excellent and truly appaling generalship and leadership today as a lecturer in modern military history. I can not help but be struck by the similarities between Generals George B McClellan and Mark Clark !
The preview audio sample of this book is a very poor choice and made me think long and hard about buying this book. The sample appears to have been picked at random rather than with a view of giving an example of the content. That aside this book is a tour de force and one of the most interesting books I have read or listened to. I felt as if I knew and understood the individual characters involved and I learnt a great deal about the war itself. I have already purchased the second volume on the strength of this work. If I had a criticism it would be that I would have liked more informaton on the lead up to the war itself (the book starts with the resignation of Jefferson Davies). Having said that this volume alone stands at around 37 hours so perhaps it is already long enough! That small point does not detract from, in my humble opinion, 5 stars. A triumph!
"Buy the Bok"
A comprehensive account of the early stages of the war from the perspective of key players. Well read and written. However the detail is much more relevant to the written word that audio. If you listen in a concentrated and focused way this is for you - otherwise buy the book.
"Oh dear ...."
The American Civil War is one of my favourite chapters in world history. I devour books, documentaries and films on the subject. Accordingly, was really excited when I saw this series was available to download.
Unfortunately, totally let down by the narrator who reads the book so flatly that he makes the whole thing sound very boring indeed. It's even worse during the battle scenes .... the book sets the scene by explaining the terrain and the positioning of the rival forces. However, the way the narrator reads it, you really have no idea who is where, or why?
A book for reading, not listening to
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