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The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville (1958)
von Shelby Foote
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More people know author and historian Shelby Foote from his appearance in the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War than from Foote's own writing. Foote's book The Civil War A Narrative takes up three volumes. This review only addresses the first volume, Fort Sumter to Perryville, it alone is 840 pages long including indexes. This work was published in 1958. Shelby Foote was as good a writer of narrative as he was a speaker and storyteller. When he writes about the personalities, backgrounds and conflicts of these historical figures he demonstrates a great command of knowledge and writing skill. Though he came from the South Foote wrote an even handed narrative, presenting both sides of the conflict. I knew a lot more about Jefferson Davis and many of the Generals on both sides when I finished reading this volume. Foote even gave me some new insights on Abraham Lincoln. If there is a weakness in these works it comes when this author describes the actually battles, movements of armies and geography of the events. I found the maps provided with the text to be less helpful than many I've seen. That however was easily overcome by keeping my copy of Mark Boatner's Civil War Dictionary at my side while I read Foote. Boatner's maps and descriptions of maneuvers and battles are better but as a narrator Shelby Foote is a master. I am looking forward to taking on the next two volumes. It may take awhile.
Shelby Foote is a very gifted writer whose every sentence is a work of art. In this narrative history of the first couple of years of the Civil War, he is also irreproachably fair. He neither demonizes nor beatifies anyone, but he does lean toward treating everyone with respect (with the passing exception of some who committed atrocities against noncombatants).
From the first time I heard of him in my preteen years, General McClellan's raison d'etre seemed to be to fill the role of the hapless Washington Generals for the Harlem Globetrotters (in the form of President Lincoln) to dunk on. Canonical example: "If McClellan isn't using the army, I should like to borrow it." As described by Foote, McClellan was much more than a target for Lincoln's witticisms. He was an intelligent fighter, a leader who loved, and was loved by, his troops.
Foote uses without explanation some terminology with which I was not familiar: of the military, of the construction of ships, of American geography, etc. This may have been an issue for his readers 60 years ago, but not for us now, thanks to the Internet. The Internet also provides us with plenty of illustrations, making up for the lack thereof in the book.
A book on a bloody war of brother against brother might seem like a bad choice for reading in the depressing age of pandemic. But Foote writes with such grace that, oddly enough, the reader is rewarded with a renewed appreciation for humanity.
If you are a Civil War history buff, this is a MUST read. Yes, it is long, but it is absolutely worth your time. I can't wait to dive into Volume 2. I HIGHLY recommend the audio book as Grover Gardner is one of the best narrators in the game.
I've waited 20 years to read this and ... and ... it was pretty boring! Actually I listened to the audio version and the most common droning reader didn't help either. But this is all about the politicians, the generals, the geography, and the development of an ironclad navy. It is certainly a good layout of history -- but I found myself wanting the smaller story and details of the men in the trenches. The Foote series is an epic ... but now that I have a feel for it, the other parts will have to wait. (the audio version, 14 cds, is only 1/2 of book 1).
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The Civil War: A Narrative (Original publication, Vol. 1)
Ist enthalten in
The Civil War, Vol 1: Fort Sumter to Kernstown: First Blood - The Thing Gets Underway von Shelby Foote
The Civil War: A Narrative Pea Ridge to the Seven Days War Means Fighting, Fighting Means Killing (Volume 2) von Shelby Foote
The Civil War: A Narrative Second Manassas to Perryville The Sun Shines South (Volume 3) von Shelby Foote
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Wikipedia auf Englisch (7)
A narrative history of the American Civil War, which covers not only the battles and the troop movements but also the social background that brought on the war and led, in the end, to the South's defeat.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)973.7 — History and Geography North America United States Administration of Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865 Civil War
Klassifikation der Library of Congress [LCC] (USA)
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The U.S. Constitution provided for population counting to be 3/5ths of a person for slaves. How did the Confederate Constitution describe African-Americas, in contrast? Slaves.