In the third and last volume of this vivid history, Shelby Foote brings to a close the story of four years of turmoil and strife which altered American life forever. Here, told in rich narrative and as seen from both sides, are those climactic struggles, great and small, on and off the field of battle, which finally decided the fate of this nation.
©1974 Shelby Foote; (P)1997 Blackstone Audiobooks
I have just completed the marathon quest of listening to all three volumes of Shelby Foote's masterpiece narrative of the American Civil War (Approx 139 Hours). Coming to this trilogy, I thought I possessed a basic knowledge of the events of those four years which tore an infant nation apart and set brother against brother; quite literally in many cases. The Civil War trilogy has served to royally demonstrate to me just how much I did not know about this fascinating and bloody four years of American history. If you are an amateur historian wishing to really understand the polotics, characters, battles and progression of the war, this is the book for you. It isn't however, a book which could reasonably used as an introduction to the subject. There are many more concise accounts which can be read to see if you get the taste for more, at which time Shelby Foote's epic will be waiting.
This will also probably be an ideal information source for serious gamers of Civil War battles as every skirmish and major conflict is included in detail.
The previous reviewer hits the nail on the head when he says that this is not for the faint hearted. But for those contemplating the journey, it is very worthwhile. This is narrative history at its best. Shelby Foote writes wonderfully well and with tremendous clarity, he is punctillious about avoiding judgement or passing opinions, leaving the facts to speak largely for themselves (though, that said, his sardonic tone adds a certain zest to his depiction of the facts).
I have read these books before, so for me it was like walking a journey for which one would normally use a faster mode of transport. It takes longer of course, but the gain is worth having - the way the story unfolds in all its drama and richness of detail, the triumphs and tragedies at both a personal and national level, the countless 'what ifs'. I particularly enjoyed the sections dealing with Lincoln's assassination - what a tragedy for the country that was - and with Jefferson Davis' trials and tribulations after the fighting was over.
One detail that prospective listeners might like to bear in mind: it would be very difficult not to say impossible to follow the narrative without access to maps of the major campaigns and batles. I am reasonably familiar with the history but found myself regularly turning to the written text to review a map.
But subject to all these points, strongly recommended - excellent narration too.
Although quite a commitment, very rewarding.
As a narrative history, I think together with its two companion volumes this book stands apart.
The book contains so many characters that stay in the memory. Grover Gardner is superb throughout.
Shelby Foote has created a monumental work, and to complete all three volumes of this audio book will take time. I found the whole experience aided by Grover Gardener's reading, vivid, enlightening and thoroughly rewarding. Highly recommended.
It's an incredible book, and the narration is beautiful. If you can't have Shelby Foote reading it himself, Grover Gardner is a good alternative. Foote carries the story well past the usual Appomattox tableau, with a riveting description of Lincoln's assassination, a careful exploration of the consequences of that act, and a long, elegiac, unbearably sad narration of the winding down of the war and the outcome, especially for the freed slaves. Everybody lost. The long national nightmare ended in the age of the robber barons and union busting; and blacks found themselves frozen out, hunted down, and at times massacred by North and South alike.
It took me about a year of off-and-on listening to work through all three volumes. It was worth every second. I can't recommend this audiobook too highly. Yes, you need other viewpoints for balance, but no one else tells the story in such an utterly enthralling way and with such captivating and humanizing detail.
"The time flies"
You will spend 145 hours listening to all three of these volumes. You will not regret a minute. This is history at its finest - a succession of compelling stories laced with the most outstanding characterizations you can imagine. Shelby Foote's genius lies in his almost conversational style - it's as though he's sitting next to you chatting. Could not recommend this more highly.
"History at Its Best"
I am so glad that I invested the many hours it took to listen to all three volumes of this fantastic history.
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.
You should read all three volumes. It will give you a broad perspective on the Civil War. Unlike any other history I've read on this war, these books will impart an understanding of what went on in the West, the North, and such places as Florida and Arkansas. I hardly knew the war touched those last two states.
Anyone who has seen the Ken Burns Civil War series will see the similarity to the amusing anecdotes related by 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!
"AN AMAZING PRIMER ON UNDERSTANDING THE CIVIL WAR!"
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,
"A fantastic Story Telling of a Truly Horrific Time"
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 !! :)
"The best comprehensive Civil War book"
If you're only going to read one book on the Civil War, this should be it. It's comprehensive, balanced, and readable. It's extremely long, but worth every minute of 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.
"Wonderful history of the Civil War!"
I finally finished listening to this last part of Foote's Civil War narrative. I feel that I have a much better grasp of what happened and why it happened.
Unfortunately, I have also concluded that the same differences and problems that caused this war are going on in our country today, so it seems the real roots and reasons for this war were never settled and we may have to fight it out again. I sincerely hope not, but I fear it might be true.
This book takes us through Red River -Appomattox and really beyond. He gives a great overview of Lincoln's assassination and Jefferson Davis' mad dash for freedom and the rest of his life as well as some of the Generals after lives.
There is some reconstruction history also and Andrew Johnson's presidency.
Some people feel that Shelby Foote leans too much to the South's side but I feel he gave a well rounded view of the conflict from all sides.
I really enjoyed this book and the colorful characters that inhabit it. The worst part of the story was the useless continuation of a war that was already lost, the South just refused to accept it from sheer stubbornness in some cases.
Grover Gardner does a fine job on his narration. By the end of the 3rd book he feels like an old friend.
"Pres. Lincoln said "let him down easy" to Grant"
During the course of listening to these three volumes which took me over a year I collected four notebook binders of Civil War maps which I saved off the Internet. By listening to the audio commentary by Mr. Gardner, who does an exceptional job of narrating and bringing the action to life, I looked at my maps; I found myself there, in the battle, at Manassas, at Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, I felt the loss and Stonewall Jackson death, and the frustrations that Pres. Lincoln felt because for some reason the Union generals could just not bring himself to pursue the beaten Confederate armies after the battles of Antietam, and Gettysburg. Also the narrative helps you understand the politics inside the Confederacy and Pres. Jefferson Davis and the generals he had to work with. Reading these three volumes is a large commitment, now that I have all the maps, I look forward to re listening to this book again in the future.
"History Done Superbly"
I've just finished Volume III. The whole trilogy deserves the same 5 stars. Not since I
saw Ken Burn's PBS "The Civil War" have I come across anything nearly as well done and
entertaining. I don't recall how long the other two volumes were (nearly as long or longer, maybe)
but not one of those hours disappointed me. Sometimes I'd get a little confused...so much action, so
many characters, hard to keep it straight in my mind all the time...but then I'd go back a little
and hear the part again and I'd get back on track. Altogether magnificent storytelling.
Grover Gardner kept it all moving and fresh and even, exciting for me. A pleasant and well
paced narration. He made it all live, again. Glad I get to keep the set.
I have a colleague at work from India who is a true student of the modern American scene.
After I started reading Foote's work, it occured to me that today's US cannot really be
understood unless one understood that war and the context it was fought in and the consequences
of it. I highly recommended it to him.
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