Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Civil War: A Narrative


The Civil War: A Narrative Volumes 1-3 Box Set by Shelby Foote

I have been a Civil War buff since I was a teen. At 76, I have just read all 2,836 pages of Shelby Foote’s excellent narrative of the war. I think reading it should be worth a master’s degree in Civil War history. You may recall Foote from Ken’s Burns Civil War TV series. Though Foote was a southerner, I detected no note of bias in this comprehensive history. He was primarily a novelist, so the writing was smooth and held my interest. The only thing I thought he left out was Major General Joshua Chamberlin ordering his union troops to give a rifle salute as the defeated Confederates marched between them to surrender. But there were a great many details about battles I knew little or nothing of, despite my extensive reading and a master’s level course on the war. For example, there was a detailed account of the action in the English channel where the USS Kearsarge sunk the Confederate raider CSS Alabama. (It was nothing like the song!) I especially appreciated the descriptions of the appearance and character of the various military and civilian leaders. The length makes this a daunting project, but well worth your time.

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