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Shiloh
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Group Reads: Moderator's Choice > Initial Impressions: Shiloh, by Shelby Foote – February 2020

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message 1: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2554 comments Mod
Comments on this board should be written with the assumption that not all readers have finished the book. Please avoid revealing any spoilers.


message 2: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 1997 comments Mod
This one is on hoopla. Looking forward to joining the group read for this one by Foote.


message 3: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2554 comments Mod
This was the first book I ever read by Shelby Foote. I'm looking forward to reading it again.

For those who haven't read it, it is a novel that offers readers a soldier's eye view of the battle.


message 4: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
Of course, I'll be reading this, since I chose it. I love anything by Shelby Foote, and I expect this will be no exception. No author does Civil War like Foote.


message 5: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
I started this a little bit early since I have a very busy February. It is excellent so far, and I love Foote's technique of letting his fictional characters tell us about the historical ones.
Favorite line so far, by an aide to General Johnston: "It worked so well on paper--the flat, clean paper. On paper, in the Colonel's lamplit office, when we saw a problem, it was easy to fix."

Ah, but it's war, not paper.


message 6: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments I’m excited about digging in to this. I love Shelby Foote.


message 7: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "I started this a little bit early since I have a very busy February. It is excellent so far, and I love Foote's technique of letting his fictional characters tell us about the historical ones.
Favo..."


Thanks so much for choosing this as your Moderator's selection. Though I read it when it failed to make the poll previously, I will join in the group read. I enjoyed it that much as I have all of Foote's writing.


message 8: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
I love Foote as well, and was disappointed each time it didn't get enough votes in the poll. I have to say, a little more than halfway through, he puts the reader squarely in the battle and in the minds of the soldiers on both sides. I can actually smell the gunpowder and taste the fear and confusion. As many Civil War battlefields as we have visited, I have never been to Shiloh.


message 9: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
Finished! This book goes very quickly. I'll post my review on the final impressions thread. I will say it increased my already high opinion of Shelby Foote's talent as a novelist.


message 10: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (last edited Feb 01, 2020 02:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Jane, my good book friend across the pond, recently drew my attention to enjoying "reading around" a work of literature. I take that to mean supplemental reading pertinent to the work being read.

Here is Shelby Foote talking about Shiloh:

"Your novel Shiloh came several years before the first volume of the history. You create characters out of your imagination there — men who did not live. Yet when one of the historical personages — Generals Johnston, Grant, Beauregard, Sherman — come on the stage, you are meticulous about never having one of them say something that you don’t know that he said—

And also he wouldn’t be where he was at that time unless I knew he was there.

Yes, but that’s not always typical practice for many writing so-called historical fiction. Why was it so with you?

I believe that the closer you get to the truth, the better the thing will be. That’s true of a novel as much as it is of history. It also came out of respect for those people. I don’t believe that you have the right to put words in the mouth of a historical person. You shouldn’t take those liberties. Anyhow not since Shakespeare. [Laughter] And you don’t need to — the material is there. I claim that whether the reader is aware of that or not, if I stick to strict history with regard to historical characters, the truth of that will contribute to the novel. And the extent to which I depart from that will detract from the truth of the novel. With Shiloh, incidentally, the hero of that book is a battle, not a character or even a group of characters. I was trying to tell the story of that battle. And that, too, is part of the reason why I wanted the historical characters to be accurate."

Crisis Magazine
DECEMBER 1, 1991
Walking Easy with Shelby Foote: A Civil War Historian’s Thoughts on History, Walker Percy, and the Life of Writing
TRACY LEE SIMMONS

https://www.crisismagazine.com/1991/w...


message 11: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
Thanks, Lawyer. I had read somewhere that Michael Shaara used the same technique in Killer Angels, that not a word said by any historical character was made up. We all know how great that book was. I'm not sure which writer did it first.


message 12: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1079 comments Mod
It makes the difference between good historical fiction and poor historical fiction for me. I want the author to research well and stay with the truth on the historical events and figures...they are welcomed to use their imagination as much as they wish on the characters they create, after all it is fiction for that reason.

If I had to guess, Diane, I would think Shaara had read Foote and that Foote came first.


message 13: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
I agree, Sara. Maybe Shaara picked it up from Foote, maybe not. But both books are excellent.


message 14: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1079 comments Mod
Yes, and both men were giants in their field. I wish I had the time and I would be re-reading this with you guys.


Candi (candih) | 207 comments I just picked up my copy at the library today, and am very eager to start :)


message 16: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
You're in for a treat, Candi.


Candi (candih) | 207 comments Diane, I read the first few pages in bed last night, and I could sense from page 1 that this was going to be a treat, as you say :)


message 18: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (last edited Feb 03, 2020 08:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2554 comments Mod
It has just occurred to me that I have confused my memory of this with that of A Blaze of Glory, by Jeff Shaara. I've read both but have mixed up some of the characters. I imagine that isn't hard to do with both books being written in the same format about the same battle.


message 19: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (last edited Feb 03, 2020 08:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2554 comments Mod
FYI, this book was published in 1952 and pre-dates The Killer Angels by 22 years.


message 20: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (last edited Feb 03, 2020 08:16AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2554 comments Mod
One of the characters mentioned in this book is General W.H.L. 'Lew' Wallace, who went on to be governor of the New Mexico territory during what was called the Lincoln County war. He spent much of his time there writing Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.


message 21: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments Now that I’ve finished this phenomenal book, I love hearing about it. I’ve been kind of leaning on Diane as a wonderful guide-I’ve never read anything like this! Can I give more than 5 stars?


message 22: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments Tom, that seems to be a huge historical argument about Wallace and the fork in the road not taken? That was a bit confusing for me because he didn’t seem to be particularly lost on his path? Can anyone shed some light on this? I re-read it and couldn’t find the error explained except people were upset.


message 23: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments I know it involved a delay?


message 24: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2554 comments Mod
Kimberlee wrote: "Tom, that seems to be a huge historical argument about Wallace and the fork in the road not taken? That was a bit confusing for me because he didn’t seem to be particularly lost on his path? Can anyone shed some light on this?"

I don't recall having heard this. According to his bio in the American Battlefield Trust:
After his strong performance at Fort Donelson, Wallace faced events at the battle of Shiloh that would haunt his military career. At the Battle of Shiloh, Grant’s army was caught off guard and forced to retreat. He sent for reinforcements from Wallace, and as a result of unclear circumstances, Wallace marched his forces to a position, found out he was behind Confederate lines, and then marched back to meet Grant. As a result of the losses suffered by the Union army at Shiloh, many placed blame on Wallace and he was removed from Grant’s army.



message 25: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1079 comments Mod
Think about having the responsibility for so many lives and then feeling that you made a major error that resulted in such a loss. True or not that you were the cause, that would be a difficult thing to deal with for the rest of your life. I admire men who are even willing to take on such a responsibility.


message 26: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments Ohhhhhhhh, okay, Tom, that is a perfect description. Thank you! I think Lincoln was also furious about it. I read somewhere that he wrote, rewrote a letter to Wallace about it.

Sara, yes, what a burden to carry.

I was blown away by Shiloh. Maybe I’ll look into reading straight up military history. Hard to believe it could be as engrossing as Shelby Foote makes it. What a writer.


message 27: by Todd (new) - rated it 4 stars

Todd Everett Diane wrote: "Thanks, Lawyer. I had read somewhere that Michael Shaara used the same technique in Killer Angels, that not a word said by any historical character was made up. We all know how great that book was...."

Once in the late 1990's I met Shelby Foote at a library fundraiser her in Charlotte, NC. I had just read "The Killer Angels" and absolutely loved it, so when I got my chance to ask him a question I asked if he had read it and what he thought of it. His response surprised me. He basically looked disgusted and said no he hadn't and didn't intend to as he didn't need anyone to tell him what Robert E Lee was thinking on the battle field. I was taken aback, but will say Shelby said exactly what he was thinking.


message 28: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments What a great story, Todd. Some insight on how writers might view competing writers in military history.


message 29: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments Is anyone familiar with Shelby Foote’s other fiction, have recommendations of what I might read next of his?


message 30: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1079 comments Mod
I loved Love in a Dry Season and Follow Me Down.

The reaction by Foote surprises me...but, I'm a bit envious that you met him.


message 31: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments Thanks, Sara. Making a note of that!


message 32: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2554 comments Mod
Those two are excellent. As far as I know, they are also his only other novels. There's also Jordan County but that is collection of short stories with a common theme.


message 33: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments Thanks guys, I read over a bunch of wonderful reviews by fellow trailers; lawd, ya’ll are such good writers! I think I’ll start with
Love in a Dry Season. (And here I had thought of Shelby Foote as primarily a great pal of Walker Percy’s and a fellow academic.)
I am such a goodreads fanatic now.


message 34: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Tom wrote: "Those two are excellent. As far as I know, they are also his only other novels. There's also Jordan County but that is collection of short stories with a common theme."

His first novel was Tournament published in 1949. It tells of Jordan County in the years following the Civil War. Foote's last novel was September, September published in 1978. From the gr summary:

"In September 1957 the South is mesmerized by events in Little Rock, Arkansas, whose governor has called out the National Guard as part of his attempt to halt the integration of Central High School. And in Memphis, two white men and a white woman are planning to capitalize on the confrontation between the races by kidnapping the grandson of a wealthy black entrepreneur and pinning the crime on white supremacists. The problem is that Podjo, Rufus, and Reeny have only an amateur's understanding of what a kidnapping entails -- and a total, terrifying incomprehension of their victims.

In September September a magisterial historian of the Civil War charts its distant repercussions in the streets of the contemporary South. By turns wryly comic, ribald, and chilling, Shelby Foote's novel is at once a convincing thriller and a powerful tragicomedy of race."


message 35: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Tom wrote: "Those two are excellent. As far as I know, they are also his only other novels. There's also Jordan County but that is collection of short stories with a common theme."

Actually, Foote wrote two additional novels. Tournament, published in 1949, was Foote's first novel. It is set in Jordan County in the years immediately following the Civil War.

Foote's last novel, September, September was published in 1978. From the gr summary:

"In September 1957 the South is mesmerized by events in Little Rock, Arkansas, whose governor has called out the National Guard as part of his attempt to halt the integration of Central High School. And in Memphis, two white men and a white woman are planning to capitalize on the confrontation between the races by kidnapping the grandson of a wealthy black entrepreneur and pinning the crime on white supremacists. The problem is that Podjo, Rufus, and Reeny have only an amateur's understanding of what a kidnapping entails -- and a total, terrifying incomprehension of their victims.

In September September a magisterial historian of the Civil War charts its distant repercussions in the streets of the contemporary South. By turns wryly comic, ribald, and chilling, Shelby Foote's novel is at once a convincing thriller and a powerful tragicomedy of race."


message 36: by Wyndy (new)

Wyndy | 75 comments An interesting and timely article on Eudora Welty’s effort to write about the Civil War. Shelby Foote is also mentioned in the article: “Still, the story won second prize in the 1951 O. Henry competition, and Shelby Foote insisted on including it in an anthology of Civil War stories that he edited, much to Welty’s bafflement.” https://lithub.com/was-the-burning-th...


message 37: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Wyndy wrote: "An interesting and timely article on Eudora Welty’s effort to write about the Civil War. Shelby Foote is also mentioned in the article: “Still, the story won second prize in the 1951 O. Henry compe..."

Thanks for the cite, Wyndy. A very interesting read.


message 38: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
Great article, Wyndy. I'll have to look in my Collected Stories to see if I can find "The Burning".


message 39: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
Kimberlee, I'm glad we turned you into a Shelby Foote fan. I've been impressed with everything I've read by him so far. I haven't read his 3 volume history of the war, but I imagine he puts you in the middle of it. I read that while he was writing it, he visited each battlefield on the same date as the battle, and the same time of day as the big skirmishes, in order to get the weather and the light as close as possible. He was a stickler for detail, to his reader's advantage.


message 40: by Wyndy (new)

Wyndy | 75 comments I was not able to locate a standalone copy of ‘The Burning,’ but it is included in The Collected Stories and Chickamauga And Other Civil War Stories.


message 41: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3968 comments Mod
I did find this story in my "Collected Stories". I'll report back when I've read it.


message 42: by Jane (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jane | 738 comments Read this some time ago and loved it so will not be rereading this around


message 43: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 1997 comments Mod
I’m hooked, audio is fabulous. My first Foote, crazy, I know.


message 44: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments Laura, don’t you feel like you’re right there in the midst of it? It’s almost like reading a painting.


message 45: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 1997 comments Mod
Yes!!!! The descriptions....the account is so convincing but not overdone.


message 46: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2554 comments Mod
I'm tempted to tackle his three-volume history of the war. Too bad my favorite used bookstore is no longer there.


message 47: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments The way he evokes the sounds of battle nearly ended me. I could hear bullets whizzing past my ears, Laura.

Tom, I’m tempted to try as well. This war never fails to engulf all my feelings. Thanks to this group and Diane, I have been led to the writer who finally took me there.


message 48: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 1997 comments Mod
Goodness, having to take a little break. You can feel the fear.


“But it seemed so wrong, so scandalous, somehow so unreligious for a dead man to have to keep on fighting - or running, anyhow - that it made me sick at my stomach. I didn't want to have any more to do with the war if this was the way it was going to be”


message 49: by Kimberlee (new)

Kimberlee | 101 comments Laura, ohhhhhhh the stone dead man running down the hill. That image does not leave you.


message 50: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2554 comments Mod
Kimberlee wrote: "Laura, ohhhhhhh the stone dead man running down the hill. That image does not leave you."

true dat


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