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The Civil War, Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox

(The Civil War #3)

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  5,514 Ratings  ·  164 Reviews
"An unparalleled achievement, an American Iliad, a unique work uniting the scholarship of the historian and the high readability of the first-class novelist." —Walker Percy

"I have never read a better, more vivid, more understandable account of the savage battling between Grant's and Lee's armies.... Foote stays with the human strife and suffering, and unlike most Southern
Paperback, 1120 pages
Published November 12th 1986 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1974)
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Robert It's been a couple of years since I read these three volumes, but if I remember correctly, late afternoon battles were quite problematic, especially…moreIt's been a couple of years since I read these three volumes, but if I remember correctly, late afternoon battles were quite problematic, especially for the attacking side. The initial goal was usually to begin as early in the morning as possible. However, both sides faced myriad problems, such as miscommunication, ammunition and supply shortages, errant maps, inclement weather, insufficient horses and wagons, and so on, not to mention soldiers stopping to loot or eat meals, and commanders arguing amongst themselves about strategy and the incompetence of their superior officers.

Commanding generals in particular were constantly frustrated as daylight ended on the verge of victory, allowing the enemy to regroup or withdraw to safety. Gettysburg was just one of many, many examples of this. With a few more hours of light on the first (or second?) day, it could have ended with a Northern defeat, potentially altering the war significantly.

Hope you enjoyed these volumes as much as I did. :)(less)

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Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelby Foote writes, in the afterward section of this, the third volume of his monumental history of the Civil War, how relieved he was to finally finish this labor of love after researching and writing for twenty years. A literary effort begun to commemorate the centennial of the Civil War ended long after, in his description, the centennial enthusiasm had dried up. True, a centennial celebration itself fizzles out, otherwise we, or rather our descendants, would never eventually get re-excited ...more
Review to follow.
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war, history
I have spend most of the last three weeks reading the 1,100-odd pages of Shelby Foote's The Civil War Volume III: Red River to Appomattox. I had mislaid the book for several years and was so delighted when I found it behind other books on a shelf that I began reading it at once.

Unlike most of the other major histories of the Civil War, Foote's 3-volume series is written from he point of view of the Confederacy. I do not mean to imply that his history is biased. Rather, it covers the same ground
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: civil-war
The last in Shelby Foote's Civil War trilogy, this one covers spring of 1864 through the end of the war. Foote's trilogy is a good reference for those who are looking for a thorough, sequential narration of the events of the Civil War. The series does not step back and analyze the events, so you don't really ever get a sense of the bigger picture or what the pivotal moments of the conflict were. These 3 volumes are a play-by-play, mostly of the battles, but also cover some of the politics in bot ...more
Matt Brady
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
towards the end of this massive trilogy foote shows a bit more of a sensitivity towards certain issues that he was maybe more ignorant of when he started. in the course of writing this series, foote lived through the civil rights era in the south, and i think it shows, particular in his comments about the awful failures of reconstruction. or maybe im just searching for things to validate why i enjoyed this series so much, which i did, despite foote's flaws and obvious sympathies for the confeder ...more
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing! Stupendous! Incredibly enjoyable! Shelby Foote finishes his mammoth three volume narrative of the American Civil War with amazing erudition and, at times, passionate prose. Despite it being longer in length than his two predecessors, Foote manages to balance his switching from fast battle narrative to slow detail-bogged passages better than the first two volumes. He also has some of the best and most moving chronicles out of all the volumes in this one volume. Of particular note are the ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
What a great conclusion to this narrative. Shelby Foote did such a great job keeping the narration balanced on both sides, and engaging. The combination of the three books is rather lengthy, and had I spent the time to review the maps at the same time, I probably would have enjoyed it even more.

Even as it was being narrated, I found the ending of this pivotal war to be bittersweet, and I genuinely felt sorry for the south. I loved this quote from Ulysses S. Grant at the surrender of Robert E. Le
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In finishing this book, I have completed one of the great reading experiences of my life to date. As in the previous two volumes, Shelby Foote's ability to render a general yet hugely informative history of the Civil War is simply astounding. On a par with his skills as a general historian, he brings to bear all of his skills as a fine novelist in presenting the narrative of the war. In a volume exceeding a thousand pages, he is able to bring the reader to tears, to take the reader's breath, to ...more
carl  theaker
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war

Have often returned to a chapter or two for reference, re-piqued interest from
a TV show, or say when we biked around the Vicksburg battle field one summer.

The interviews with Shelby Foote in Ken Burns' Civil War series were fascinating.
Inspired, a girlfriend, who was from Mississippi, gave me a volume for each
of the next holidays, birthday's etc.

These books read like novels, hard to stop once you get going, even though
yeah we know how it ends.

Can't endorse this series enough. I'll read the
William Guerrant
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
That Shelby Foote could produce 3,000 pages of prose of this quality is one of the greatest achievements of American literature, let alone narrative history.
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reread and rating changed from 3 to 4. More appreciated the 2nd time through. Another must read for all interested in American history. This trilogy is really the definitive history of the civil war presented in a very readable style. It has been criticized for omitting mention of some of the atrocities committed by both southern and northern troops, but this is not an important omission.

Finally finishing once again (3rd time) the thousands of pages of this definitive history of our civil war.
Peter Smith
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The blurb on the cover of these books describes the series as an American Iliad which doesn't at all to me seem like an overstatement because I can't think of any other group of American books, fiction or non-fiction, that encompasses the scope of this series. The facts of the Civil War are pretty well documented throughout the 3000 pages or so that Foote has written but it's a testament to his writing ability that these books are such a compelling read. I found myself tearing up when he was des ...more
When you finish a trilogy like this you feel a sense of accomplishment. I can't even begin to imagine how Mr. Foote must have felt in completing this work, three thick volumes telling the story of one of the most crucial times in our nation's history.

The Civil War, Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox concludes an epic but does not satiate my passionate interest in the Civil War itself. It is to the author's great credit that he has told this monumental story not as a series of dry historical battles
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I reserve 5 star ratings for the best. I never expected to rate this volume this high. Foote never provided citations in any of his Civil War histories, but the narrative makes up for his lack of footnotes. Foote's recounting of the battle of Franklin and his comments about the end of the war and how the men who fought it knew they were ending something special, a brotherhood, both North and South, that was hard to explain to those who had not fought, was beautifully written.
Joseph Carames
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
good story of civil war 3 books each almost 1000 pages. You could say exhaustive
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelby Foote's Narrative is sometimes called the "American Illiad," and that name fits well for a war saga that is nearly endless, seamlessly blends history and mythology, glows from the page with epic and overblown language. Foote also shares Homer's focus on particular 'hero' characters and their duels, though unlike Hector and Achilles these champions are presidents and commanding officers rather than superhuman warriors. I didn't realize until near the end of this final segment, when the fin ...more
Chungsoo Lee
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In the beginning of the audio book for this Volume III, Ken Burns provides a wonderful intro. He refers to the futility of war and the dark era that followed in which the wealthy freely wheeling their power to the detriment of American people and economy and how the African-Americans continued to struggle for their freedom in the subsequent Jim Crow era. Shelby Foote does not go there.

After more than 1,200 hours of narration (superbly done by Grover Gardner) it becomes clear that the American C
Ralph Wark
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just an amazing read, the trilogy taking almost as long a s the war itself to read......

I love this trilogy, all 3200 or so pages of it. My favorite part? No, not the intensive detail (Gettysburg takes as long to read as the battle did to fight), the personable style, with frequent uses of words like "practicable"), or the kind attention he gives to both sides. I love the fact that you feel what the people were feeling,

This makes other histories seem like syllables. You know the events, but you
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civil-war
This last volume of Shelby Foote's narrative history of the Civil War is massive. As well written as it is, as colorful and as moving, I can not imagine anyone being able to absorb everything even in this last volume. It starts with the little known "Red River" Campaign and continues to Appomattox. But, in truth, there are 100+ pages after Lee's surrender, as he chronicles each surrender the confederate made (there were at least four) and the capture of CSA President Jefferson Davis. Foote's com ...more
Tim Byers
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author says somewhere, "if you don't know the Civil War, you don't know America." Foote marches us through four long years that shaped America as much as any other in our history. His telling is narrative style through the military campaigns of Virginia, the West, and on the rivers and seas. The personalities are large on his stage but background to the march and clash of armies. Having been ignorant of much but the sheer basics of North v. South, Foote explains the southern perspective in a ...more
Pamela Okano
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The first two volumes of this trilogy are full of Southern victories. In the third volume, the tenor of the war changes, with more and more Northern successes, as the overwhelming numbers and resources of the Union finally take their toll. Although both sides occasionally faced starvation for both horses and men (the armies had to take forage with them), the threat became much realer for the Greys, as the war ground to a close. Indeed, Union troops cut off Lee's access to further supplies, which ...more
John Conlon
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is good narrative history. Foote is excellent at turning what must have been thousands of letters, orders, and reports into lively and (mostly) compelling prose.

One caveat: at one point, these books were seen as offering an evenhanded depiction of the North and South. Many modern readers may disagree. I will illustrate this with only one example. Foote describes, with great fervor and no apparent irony, the gross injustice and humiliation that Jefferson Davis endured when put in chains for
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
The final volume of Foote's magisterial epic continues with beautiful writing, sharp insights, and a general (if mild) Southern sympathy. While obviously a colorful character, Foote devotes more attention to Nathan Bedford Forrest than is strictly warranted. But that's a minor quibble.

The first volume started with Jefferson Davis taking the oath of office for the Presidency and ended with his death. It's fitting that Davis bookends the trilogy and while some might call that unduly sympathetic t
Damon Henrichs
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So I guess this is the review I would review the entire series. These Civil War books are nothing short of remarkable and a must-read for scholars of the Civil War.

I will some of his battle descriptions can get a little dry. If there were more maps it probably would be less so, as the descriptions are so detailed that it can be difficult to keep the picture straight in your head.

I must say this last volume had some of my favorite parts of the entire work, especially the parts where Grant and Le
Joe Butler
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have just finished this majestic trilogy and feel a sense of awe at both the events and people the work describes, as well as the incredible talents of the man who devoted so much of his life to tell their stories. This trilogy has taken its place now as my favorite book, not just of history but of any kind. I am sad to come to the end of this journey I have been on for the past almost five months. It is one I will treasure always and am sure I will repeat many times throughout the years to co ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The longest book of the three, I read it the fastest. For the first half, I just wanted to get to the end. The soliders are exhausted, sick, and and deserting. The generals are overwhelmed and getting sloppy. The war loses any elegance and descends into an interminable slugfest. It's when Sherman and Sheridan kick things into high gear that you feel that the thing might end. I also enjoyed getting to know Jefferson Davis, in all his strength and delusion as to the ultimate trajectory of his nati ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
a truly fascinating and detailed account of the end of the civil war. i've spent about a year reading this trilogy, and it was well worth it. as Lincoln said after this re-election in 1864: "In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged."
Donna Jones
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this series of books. It was a little hard to keep track of everyone listening to the audio book, especially since there were generals or soldiers on both sides with the same names, but nonetheless I enjoyed this in-depth view of most of the battles and found his description of the men and their personalities really well done.
Susan Groves
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Funny, entertaining and informative. Turns a dry subject into something so much more. This is the second time I have read this series, some 30 years apart and enjoyed it just as much this time round. For me these 3 books are the definitive breakdown of the American Civil War.
David Strong
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This 3 Volume set is simply the best book I have ever read
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Facts matter 3 18 Nov 02, 2013 04:50PM  
  • Never Call Retreat
  • The Civil War: An Illustrated History
  • Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam
  • Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command
  • The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy
  • Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage
  • Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas
  • The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command
  • Gettysburg--The Second Day
  • Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave
  • The Road to Disunion: Volume I: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854
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

Other books in the series

The Civil War (3 books)
  • The Civil War, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville
  • The Civil War, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian
“Burnside left even sooner, hard on the heels of a violent argument with Meade, an exchange of recriminations which a staff observer said “went far toward confirming one’s belief in the wealth and flexibility of the English language as a medium of personal dispute.” 4 likes
“I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought.” 0 likes
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