This volume is dominated by the almost continual confrontation of great armies. For the fourth time, the Army of the Potomac (now under the control of Burnside) attempts to take Richmond, resulting in the bloodbath at Fredericksburg. Then Joe Hooker tries again, only to be repulsed at Chancellorsville as Stonewall Jackson turns his flank, a bitter victory for the South, paid for by the death of Lee's foremost lieutenant.
In the West, during the six-month standoff that followed the shock of Murfreesboro in the central theater, one of the most complex and determined sieges of the war has begun. Here, Grant's seven relentless efforts against Vicksburg show Lincoln that he has at last found his killer-general, the man who can "face the arithmetic".
With Vicksburg finally under siege, Lee again invades the North. The three-day conflict at Gettysburg receives book-length attention in a masterly treatment of a key great battle, not as legend has it but as it really was, before it became distorted by controversy and overblown by remembered glory.
Don't miss the other volumes in Shelby Foote's Civil War: A Narrative series.
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.
©1963 Shelby Foote; (P) Blackstone Audiobooks
An excellent book written by a trained story teller. He brings a novelists hand to a very broad story to be told. It is well done.
This second book in this series is more focused on the actions of the armies because during this time, there were more battles fought. Those who hate the Confederacy will find this volume hard to swallow because there is no condemnation of their ideals that follow their battle successes. It is a very good continuation of Foote's efforts in his first volume and the development of the leading general's personalities is done particularly well. The historical accuracy of some of Foote's sources has come into question recently, but as a historical narrative, it is very enticing.
Mark in NH
Of course, the content is fantastic as lauded everywhere. My complaint, if it is one, has to do with the reading. Mr. Gardner's narration in the first volume was terrific, and it is again here. However, there seems to be many more audio "patches" in this volume, spots where the audio tone of voice, quality and volume jarringly switch. Same voice, just much different in sound. Fine once you get used to each incarnation, but it's very off putting to have the voice change so often as it does. Sometimes from one to another, and back again within in what must be the same page of the physical book, sometimes it seems mid-paragraph. Other than that annoyance, excellent.
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). In vol. 2, his respiratory difficulties are very prevalent, and his breathing and swallowing are very distracting. 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.
At the end of the day, Foote is a Southerner, who is trying to put the best face on a bad cause and a horrendous defeat. Foote neglects the genocide of The Southern military leadership, who were relentlessly sent into dubious battles until their was no one left to lead, He belittles Chamberlain's work at Gettysburg, accuses the North of abusing blacks - omitting any serious mention of their treatment in the South, describes one southern victory after another until, wholly crap, the South is defeated. Foote's story takes volumes to obscure and bury in detail the stupidity of the event.
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