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The Civil War: A Narrative: Fredericksburg to Meridian, Volume 2
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The Civil War: A Narrative: Fredericksburg to Meridian, Volume 2 (The Civil War #2)

4.5 of 5 stars 4.50  ·  rating details  ·  3,578 ratings  ·  95 reviews

" described with such meticulous attention to action, terrain, time, and the characters of the various commanders that I understand, at last, what happened in that battle.... Mr. Foote has an acute sense of the relative importance of events and a novelist's skill in directing the reader's attention to the men and the episodes that w
Paperback, 1000 pages
Published May 1992 by Pimlico (first published 1963)
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As we finished the second volume in this trilogy on the Civil War I wondered who/what I am most amazed by: the War in all its many complexities which tore our nation apart, the man who wrote this book over 50 years ago when he was still in his 40s, or the incredible people (north and south) who fought, struggled, suffered and died for so many different reasons. The author, Shelby Foote, who died in 2005, believed that this war was central to us as Americans. As my husband and I listened to this ...more
Ever since I first came across the works of Bruce Catton in my teens, I have been an aficionado of the American Civil War. So much concentrated slaughter among peoples who resembled one another so much! Also, so many lessons to be learned about the arts of leadership, and what happens when they are lacking -- as in all but the last general in charge of the Army of the Potomac!

This is the second volume of three of historian Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative. Nestled away in the "Bibliogra
Shelby Foote continues to use his great narrative style to full effect in this, his second in the series of Civil War histories. This volume mostly covers the events of 1863, although the books in this series are not designed to start and stop according to precisely equivalent calendar time frames. Volume I ended after the bloodbath of Antietam (Sharpsburg) in the fall of 1862. Volume II takes up with events following the removal of the American commander, George McClellan, and replacement by Ge ...more
Volume II of the this definitive history of the war deals with the period from the spring of 1863 to early 1864. The first part of the book covers the Union siege of Vicksburg in the West by Grant and the battle of Gettysburg in the East. In taking Vicksburg Grant gains an enormous victory. At Gettysburg a newly appointed General Meade defeated Lee's army when Lee made the mistake of attacking entrenched Union forces with too few men to hope to succeed. Lee was gambling if he could win the day, ...more
Many of my earlier comments with respect to The Civil War, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville apply, although Foote's cultural awareness is clearly developing in response to the height of the Civil Rights movement during which this second volume was written--evident in a wry note of thanks in the Acknowledgments to the governors of Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas, whose heavy-handed stances against desegregation helped temper his natural Southern sympathies.

This installment covers the period
Like a lot of shelby’s fans, I was introduced to his work through the Ken Burns' documentary. When I picked up volume one of his narrative, the scope of the thing was a bit intimidating, but after the first 100 pages or so, you become so involved you don’t want to let go. This is quite simply, THE history of the war. There is no stone left unturned. Blow by blow, Foote guides you through the entire War; from the battles (which he often unfolds minute by minute), to the political jockeying, as we ...more
Michael Atkinson
This second volume is as good as the first, especially since it covers some of the most dramatic battles of the Civil War: Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Chancellorsville. Shelby Foote's writing is as good as ever. My favorite passages from this book:
"What mainly distinguished the conflict from the outset was its fury. An Alabamian described the racket as 'one solid, unbroken wave of awe-inspiring if all the fires of earth and hell had been turned loose in one mighty effort to destroy
I have never enjoyed reading anything more in my life. This is a Homeric telling of America's 2nd revolution. The author is biased towards the south, and he fails to adequately incorporate the political developments of the time into his account. He also worships the wrong hero: Jefferson Davis rather than Abe Lincoln. But the Civil War is the story of the south more than the north, and its being told by a southern partisan is thus fitting. No one has ever researched a topic more thoroughly. No o ...more
No drop off at all in volume 2 of the series, and did not disappoint. In fact, the material is pure war topics, without the precursor material found in Volume 1. Foote's narrative style draws me even deeper in, and I'm very fascinated how objective he is, when I was expecting a much more Southern perspective. And still I think Foote offers the Southern side objectively, that I think was probably missing in epic series (i.e. Catton) like this done that were done in his time. LOVED page 719's acco ...more
My intention was to read the entire three volumes of Shelby Foote again during the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. That may yet happen, but as we approach the anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg I chose to read "The Stars in Their Courses" which is a small volume extracting the middle chapter of the middle volume of this giant work. This is the best discussion of the military actions at Gettysburg and you can feel which parts influence Michael Sharaa's "The Killer An ...more
I don't think their is a more extensive and detail filled account of the American Civil War around. I've already read the books and thought listening to it would enhance an already detailed account. It is very detailed and thorough as Shelby Foote is one of the master's when it comes to Civil War history. The only complaint I had about this is that sometimes to audio is off balanced both in volume and tone at times as you can tell where the stopped and started the narrative at times. It is long ...more
Foote's novelistic history of the war is well worth the (considerable) time commitment. There are more scholarly works out there, and there are more readable (shorter) works out there, but I'm not aware of any other book that combine's the exhaustive coverage of the whole war with a novelistic style that keeps you going through the whole, long, dragging misery of the 1860s.
After finish the second book of this trilogy, my head is swimming with the enormity of the American Civil War. There is simply so much, from the massive areas covered by the armies, to the number of men killed, wounded, and captured, the huge personalities of the generals and the politicians, that is really is a lot to comprehend.
Foote does an amazing job of capturing it all in this book. He keeps it in a simple narrative style that is easy to read. He profiles important leaders, and gives a lo
have been slowly pecking away at this for months, finally finished second book. so good. it's not that foote is much of a historian -- he's not presenting a new theory or re-arguing the war, although he is certainly sneaking some bias into his account. the genius here resides in turning history into a novel, bringing characters alive through their own words and actions. the language itself is also a joy. this is a casual and loose version of history; some anecdotes of exchanges probably don't ho ...more
I have had Foote’s three volume opus on the Civil War occupying my shelf for nearly twenty years. I resolved this year to read the work, or get rid of it. I read the first volume, but will not finish the second, and will not start the third. There has to be a narrative history of the Civil War that is more congenial.

Foote really didn't write that well. His chronology is at times muddled. His sentences can run on, twist and turn, and sometimes bite their own tails. I found myself skimming huge p
In this second of three volumes, Foote follows up with another excellent history. As with the first installment, this could be subtitled as a case study for the fog and friction of war, as both Union and Confederate commanders blunder through engagement after engagement. As such, this volume contains two of the biggest upsets of the war: Lee at Gettysburg and Rosecrans at Chickamauga.

Foote details both the personalities and the engagements of this portion of the war in excellent detail and in a
Jim Dooley
For those who thoroughly enjoyed the Ken Burns masterpiece, THE CIVIL WAR, and thought that they now knew everything about The War Between the States, Shelby Foote has created a fascinating, in-depth view that tells the rest of the story...and the rest of the story is quite considerable. I suspect that many may find the length of this trilogy daunting, but it is anything but dull.

In many ways, this reminds me of what Truman Capote accomplished with IN COLD BLOOD. Foote tells the stories behind t
Mark Henshaw
Shelby Foote's The Civil War trilogy is the best non-fiction account of the Civil War ever put down in print, bar none. He splits the narrative nicely between the War in the East and the War in the West, with appropriate digressions to talk about how the politics surrounding the War affected it in critical aspects. If you want to know just how respected this body of work is, note that Ken Burns used it as one of his primary references when he was shooting his landmark PBS "The Civil War" documen ...more
This is my second read of Foote's narrative history. It is just as engrossing as the first time. My impetus was the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. I read the opening chapter depicting J. Davis' trip through the south as I was driving through the same region. I'm not a Civil War buff and don't have opinions about the truth to Foote's writing but it seems well researched. Some may find his narration of the total war theater too detailed. But, if you want an in depth history of one of the majo ...more
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain got exactly one line!
Trenton Hayes
This, my friends, is the meat of it--the two great competitors standing toe to toe like blue and grey rock-em, sock-em robots--mighty pugilists able to inflict and endure epic punishment.

The contours of the struggle are fully apparent here. The groundwork lain by the Union now begins to bear fruit. The Anaconda plan quietly, slowly, stealthily, undermines the south's material circumstances, and defeats begin to quietly accumulate in the west, where the Confederacy was never as able to cope with
Bill Ardis
A better title for this three volume set would be Civil War: A Battle Narrative. Foote's focus is on the war itself, with no discussion of the causes leading up to the war. Because his focus is on the battles, he goes into great detail, at times it will seem like a roll call of every officer involved, as well as describing the movement of even the smallest group (brigade, corps, etc.) of troops. For those who are not battle historians, the level of detail can be excruciating at times, making it ...more
I enjoyed this book much more than the first in the series. Admittedly, I was most captivated by the sections on Vicksburg and Gettysburg, with Sherman's rampage to/of Meridian. I'd love to see more detail about Gettysburg, perhaps an animated storyline, showing where/how troops moved and attempted/accomplished what objectives. At Vicksburg I could feel the patience of Grant, and the peril of Pemberton and his besieged army within the city. Additionally, the swath of destruction caused by Sherma ...more
Colleen Browne
I gave this second volume 4 stars because of Footes' amazing ability to tell a story. He is captivating even though i do not understand how his spelling got past the editors. Where the book falls down is, once again, in the lack of footnotes. For this reason, and others. it should not be classified as history. There is too much anecdote and speculation on the part of the author for it to be considered history- even though it does contain a great deal of historical information. So many of the re ...more
Foote's Civil War Volume 2 continues the narrative history of the war--this time focusing on Grant's Vicksburg campaign, Chancellorsville, the Union's musical chairs of the eastern generals, and Chickamauga and the campaign for Chatanooga. There's some great stuff in here including a section on the first submarine used in naval combat which went about as well as you could imagine. There's politics, of course, and Lincoln's Gettysburg address.

Volume 2, like the first, is a testament to Foote's st

Jefferson davis’s tour of western theater of army of tenn (bragg) and army of miss (pemberton) in December 1862, overarching goal defense of Mississippi river

Lincoln’s Cabinet battles and neutralizing designs of Chase on higher office, ally in loyalty of Secretary of State Seward

Food shortages in South and Bread Riot in Richmond

Internal dissent in both Union and Confederacy during the war

Lincoln’s plan to re-integrate south with puppet governments whereby 10% of citizenry must swear lo
Epic read, the best book I've read in 2010. I cared so much about these people, who had previously been stick figures in some horribly dull and bloody war. The war was even bloodier than I remembered, and I grieved with Lee, Lincoln, and Davis as they lost children and friends during its course. Compelling and awesome; I can't recommend it enough.

I did almost quit partway through Volume 3, as I didn't think I could take one more idiot Union general making the same stupid mistakes over and over,
Terry Young
The script is so life like and it is just like watching a HBO series. It is about the war but it also is about the life and deaths of the key players in this sad drama in our American past.
Clearly the author knew how to keep the interest of the reader and teach one about the most significant chapter in the formulation of our country.
The North won few battles but the South could not overcome them. As great of a General Lee was for he South, the fog of war and the stumbling of his Generals kept t
I read a few pages of Foote's masterpiece everyday and finished Volume 2. And Foote the master of the narrative never disappoints. His detail in coverage of the major and minor events of this war are always interesting and an absorbing read. And knowing it actually happened in our nations' past that so shaped what we have become is even more thrilling. On to Volume 3.
Jeni Enjaian
I have to admit that I did not pay as close attention to this audiobook as I could have and thus did not glean as much from this book as I could have. Everything I said about the first volume applies to the second volume. (I do not have access to the audiobook version of the third volume so a review of that volume will have to wait until I get my hands on the print version.) This is outstanding work of historical narrative. I strongly recommend it.
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Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. was an American novelist and a noted historian of the American Civil War, writing a massive, three-volume history of the war entitled The Civil War: A Narrative. With geographic and cultural roots in the Mississippi Delta, Foote's life and writing paralleled the radical shift from the agrarian planter system of the Old South to the Civil Rights era of the New South. Foote wa ...more
More about Shelby Foote...

Other Books in the Series

The Civil War (3 books)
  • The Civil War, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville
  • The Civil War, Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox
The Civil War, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville The Civil War: A Narrative The Civil War, Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox Shiloh Stars in Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863

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