Aaron's Reviews > The Civil War: A Narrative

The Civil War by Shelby Foote
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M_50x66
's review
Dec 05, 07

bookshelves: currently-reading
Recommended for: everyone

I'm actually reading the nine volume set, which I recommend over the three volume set as being more manageable, and much more beautiful books.

It is clear what Shelby Foote is up to from the epigraph that is at the beginning of each volume: Ecclesiasticus xliv, "All these were honoured in their generations and were the glory of their times. There be of them that have left a name behind them that their praises might be reported..." He is lauding virtue, mainly politics and courage.

His prose is great, with the balanced, rhythmic feeling most of his writing has. As the title indicates, Foote is telling a story, not writing an academic tome, and The Civil War has neither footnotes nor other scholarly apparatus, greatly to the benefit of the narrative. His writing is colorful, employing idioms and a sprinkling of humor.

He focuses on the military aspect of the civil war; other aspects are touched on when influencing the actual battles. My one complaint about the work is that it should have more maps. It seems somewhat unfair to expect readers to know the geography of obscure states such as Texas and Maryland.

It is the best book written on the most influential American event. Every American would do well to read it.





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