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4.1  ·  Rating details ·  4,010 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
This fictional re-creation of the battle of Shiloh in April 1862 fulfills the standard set by his monumental history, conveying both the bloody choreography of two armies and the movements of the combatants' hearts and minds.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 9th 1991 by Vintage (first published 1952)
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Bob Mayer
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this as part of my research for a series on West Point graduates in the Civil War. I remember Shelby Foote from his appearances on Ken Burns' Civil War mini-series which I've watched untold number of times. Shiloh was a particularly bloody battle and Foote captures the feelings and essence of it. What's most unique about this book is how he changes point of view from the various soldiers on both sides. You truly get a feeling for it.

Visiting the battlefield a couple of years ago, it was i
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you like Shelby Foote the man, his slow Southern drawl, his humor and scholarship all wrapped up in one, you'll like this book. Truth and beauty at their single-hearted best. Books like this make my heart beat faster, they take my breath away.
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelby Foote’s novel Shiloh was published in 1952, but Civil War aficionados will notice a striking technical similarity to Michael Shaara’s 1974 Gettysburg novel The Killer Angels. Since Foote belatedly gained his largest audience after his participation in Ken Burns’ Civil War series in 1990, many readers will have experienced Shaara’s novel first. Both recreate the events of major Civil War battles through shifting, multiple narrators, with Shaara’s focused on the broader historical record, r ...more
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, war

The battle of Shiloh was fought early in the war, the troops were undisciplined, the terrain difficult due to creeks, swamps, underbrush and deadfalls. Foote captures all of these details, and more, in a relatively short book. For a historical novel, that can be a bit dicey, since the novelist is wrapping a lot of details in some fictional gauze. At points, historical details can start to poke through, shredding the intended fiction. This occurs a few times in Shiloh, but Foote's a fine writer,
Apr 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
I was introduced to this book almost 50 years ago, when I was at a summer program for teenagers at the University of Rhode Island. I cannot say today that I "enjoyed" it, for after having just read it now, I do not see how I could have understood much of it.

It is hard to fathom that Foote's fictionalized battle of Shiloh appeared almost 60 years ago But Foote had been in World War II and he was writing for a generation that had lived through that war. Looking back on the umpteen war novels I hav
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I read the first volume of Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative earlier this year and was stunned by what a titanic work it was, not just in its scope but in its detail and propulsive readability on every single page. After a quick reread to refresh myself on the progression of the war up to the end of the first volume I'll be diving into the second volume and I thought reading this relatively short novel would be a good way to whet my appetite. It did, but not particularly in the way I had imagin ...more
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: civil-war
Shelby Foote is the author of the magnificent three-volume The Civil War: A Narrative. He also wrote a historical novel about the Battle of Shiloh with Shiloh. This is a pointillist work, looking at the battle from the point of view of four Confederate and three Union participants, based on actual historical records.

There are interesting portraits of Albert Sidney Johnston (killed early in the battle), Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and -- most of all -- Nathan Bedford Forrest, the
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a classic Civil War novel, and I thought that it lived up to that reputation. According to Foote, he wrote this novel with the battle itself as the protagonist, and the characters in the story are combatants from both sides, ranging from lowly privates who are still wet-behind-the-ears to high-ranking officers.
The novel consists of some fictional characters, but the author (a renowned historian of the Civil War) uses diaries and official histories – particularly where historical particip
May 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
I finished reading Mr. Foote's book a few hours before visiting the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia. Although I did not plan it that way, I could not have picked a more fitting occasion. As my friend Mike and I walked the grounds of the battlefields at Kennesaw Mountain and nearby Cheatham Hill, Shiloh was very much on my mind. Mr. Foote's first person accounts of the action in and around Shiloh, Tennessee in the spring of 1862 brought the protagonists to life. Although Sh ...more
Sep 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: fiction, history
Shelby Foote the author, not to be confused with his cousin, Horton Foote, screenplay author and playwright, was unknown to me until the Civil War series on PBS. He impressed me as charming, intelligent and knowledgeable so I was pleased to find his book Shiloh recently at a thrift store. This story of the Battle of Shiloh, named for a local chapel, is told in the first person by a both Yankee and Rebel soldiers who participated in the battle. Ironically, Shiloh means heavenly place but this pla ...more
Steve Woods
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I read my first accounts of the Civil war some time ago. Stephen Crane's classic "The Red Badge of Courage" when I was quite young and Stephen Sears account of Antietam "Landscape Turned Red" when I was on attachment from the Australian Army to the US Army Office of Military History in 1986. My counterpart, a Civil War buff, kindly took me to the battlefield, organised and early entry with the Parks Service and we walked the battle throughout that day. That was probably one of the most poignant ...more
Theo Logos
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
The essence of Shelby Foote's book Shiloh is summed up by one of his narrators, Corporal Blake, who speaking to the men in his squad says,"books about war were written to be read by God Almighty, because no one but God ever saw it that way. A book about war, to be read by men, ought to tell what each of the twelve of us saw in our own little corner. Then it would be the way it was - not to God but to us." Shiloh is definitely a "man's-eye" view of the battle - every chapter consisting of first p ...more
Bill Rogers
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelby Foote is one of the great writers of our time. I know him for his history writing, specifically The Civil War, his massive and masterful three volume history of the war that defined the United States of America. Before he wrote that, though, he was a novelist. His 1952 novel Shiloh did much to make his reputation, both as a novelist and a historian.

Historical novels run the gamut from costume novels- 900 interminable pages of the worthless Scarlett O'Hara agonizing that she doesn't have a
May 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, civil-war
In 1952, Shelby Foote, wrote this historical novel before he turned to narrative history in the grandest style in his magisterial three volume account of the civil war. In this slender novel, Foote, writes in six segments an account of the battle as it progresses from the view-point of three confederates and three union soldiers. A near confederate victory became a federal victory when union reinforcements arrived after the first day of battle. It captures the fog of war and the intensity of com ...more
Keith Currie
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Foote's short novel is centred round the battle of Shiloh. It is based on the 'as-it-were' reports of a number of participants in the battle from both the Union and the Confederate sides. The novel strives for as close to historical accuracy as is possible and provides a template for other novels based on Civil war battles, most famously 'The Killer Angels'. While there is clearly a mild bias towards the confederacy in the book (especially with regard to the talents of Forrest), what I found mos ...more
C. Scott
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelby Foote is without question my favorite part of Ken Burns's Civil War series. If you feel the same way this is the Shelby Foote book you should read first.

Shiloh has so many great moments mentioned in the film: Albert Sydney Johnston saying "Tonight we will water our horses in the Tennessee River," a rumpled U.S. Grant chatting with Sherman under a tree on Sunday night "Well Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?" "Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow, though," and of course Nathan Bedford For
Shelby Foote's "Shiloh: A Novel" is a unique telling of the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862 during America's Civil War. Told from the perspective of six different soldiers from both north and south, the reader can glimpse into lives of Civil War soldiers heading into battle. The sense of urgency, the mounting fear, and the human and animal carnage are vividly portrayed. It is difficult to walk away from reading this book without mental images of battlefields full of dead soldiers, mass graves, an ...more
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This story was set at the battle of Shiloh which at the time was the bloodiest battle ever fought by the United States. The story follows several people in both the Union and Confederate armies and gives a description of the two days of battle from different view points. It was a fascinating story and very gripping. The one complaint that I had was that I had a hard time following all of the characters because there were so many. I also felt that the author may have been a little biased to the s ...more
Jim Martin
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the novel that launched a 1,000+ pages of prose. If you have not read Foote's The Civil War, or any of its components that have been published since the 1990s, and want to find out if it is worth the time and effort to do so you could do worse than to start with this work. The novel mainly recounts the action of the two day battle, and provides us the thoughts of the common soldier and junior officers. The chaos and uncertainty of the battle are aptly portrayed and at the end we know, al ...more
Dec 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
A great book by a great writer. Written in 1952 it is surprisingly really, REALLY graphic. The book tells the story of the battle of Shiloh in April 1862. Instead of following one character through the entire book each chapter is told from the point of view of a different person (or in one case a squad) from the Union and Cofederate armies. It usually takes me 1.5 to 2 weeks to read a book, but this one I finished in just over three night. Great stuff.
Shirley Brown
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty graphic story of the battle at Shiloh, as told by officers and illiterate foot soldiers, heroes and cowards. I think this is the most personal, bloody description of this two day battle. It's easy to tell that Mr. Foote had done his research, as his descriptions of the lay of the land and trails and roads, hills, etc., are well defined. I think Mr. Foote is known as an expert on the Civil War. I enjoyed this short story.
Mike Montesa
Nov 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Shelby Foote is the guy you saw doing all that great commentary in Ken Burns "The Civil War" His massive three volume history of the Civil War is brilliant, but his much slimmer fictional account of the battle of Shiloh, one of the Civil War's greatest slaughters, is really good. It tells the story through the eyes of the participants, none of whom can see the big pictures. The characters are in turns shocked, exhilarated, stunned, and finally left wondering just what the hell just happened.
Phillip Bryant
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Foote breaks the battle down into its parts, taking different characters to describe their specific role and dealing with other issues of the war like slavery and secession, abolitionism and union. Foote covers the few days before and after the battle drawing its prelude drama and its aftermath in the cost of human lives.
M Carmichael
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
a pleasure to read. foote is our modern homer
Thomas Moriarty
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everybody
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Obviously Foote is a superb writer, and Shiloh is well done, but it also fits a niche that I'm not certain exists. Why read the narratives of fictional soldiers written a century later when we have the diaries of actual Civil War soldiers? Assuming that one will read a limited number of books about the Civil War, I recommend Foote's Narrative instead, which is obviously much, much longer but also factual and written in an approachable style. If one is diving deep into Civil War literature or loo ...more
Bob Harris
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Okay read but not what I was looking for.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful Civil War novel about the battle at Shiloh, the death of Johnston, the terrible two days in April, told by soldiers on each side.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this the same week that I visited the Shiloh battlefield, and it's a great companion to the high level stories of the officers and the tactics.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Characters from the the Confederate and Union forces comment on the experience.
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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
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“We were green; most of us had never left home before (officers as well as men, except the officers carried their greenness better) yet here we were, traveling south up an enemy river past slow creeks and bayous and brooding trees. I thought to myself if this was the country the Rebels wanted to take out of the Union, we ought to say thank you, good riddance” 0 likes
“On paper, in the colonel's lamp-lit office, when we saw a problem it was easy to fix; all we had to do was direct that corps commanders regulate their columns so as not to delay each other, halting until crossroads were clear, keeping their riles well closed, and so forth. It didn't work that way on the ground, which was neither flat nor clean - nor, as it turned out, dry” 0 likes
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