The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville

The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville

by Shelby Foote


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This first volume of Shelby Foote's classic narrative of the Civil War opens with Jefferson Davis’s farewell to the United Senate and ends on the bloody battlefields of Antietam and Perryville, as the full, horrible scope of America’s great war becomes clear. Exhaustively researched and masterfully written, Foote’s epic account of the Civil War unfolds like a classic novel. 
Includes maps throughout.
"Here, for a certainty, is one of the great historical narratives…a unique and brilliant achievement, one that must be firmly placed in the ranks of the masters."—Van Allen Bradley, Chicago Daily News

"A stunning book full of color, life, character and a new atmosphere of the Civil War, and at the same time a narrative of unflagging power. Eloquent proof that an historian should be a writer above all else." —Burke Davis

"To read this great narrative is to love the nation—to love it through the living knowledge of its mortal division. Whitman, who ultimately knew and loved the bravery and frailty of the soldiers, observed that the real Civil War would never be written and perhaps should not be. For me, Shelby Foote has written it.... This work was done to last forever." —James M. Cox, Southern Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780394746234
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1986
Series: Vintage Civil War Library
Pages: 856
Sales rank: 189,899
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Shelby Foote was an American historian and novelist.  He was born on November 7, 1916 in Greenville, Mississippi, and attended school there until he entered the University of North Carolina. During World War II he served as a captain of field artillery but never saw combat. After World War II he worked briefly for the Associated Press in their New York bureau. In 1953 he moved to Memphis, where he lived for the remainder of his life.

Foote was the author of six novels: Tournament, Follow Me Down, Love in a Dry Season, Shiloh, Jordan County, and September, September. He is best remembered for his 3-volume history The Civil War: A Narrative, which took twenty years to complete and resulted in his being a featured expert in Ken Burns' acclaimed PBS documentary, "The Civil War". Over the course of his writing career, Foote was also awarded three Guggenheim fellowships.

Shelby Foote died in 2005 at the age of 88.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Here, for a certainty, is one of the great historical narratives of our century, a unique and brilliant achievement, one that must be firmly placed in the ranks of the masters... a stirring and stupendous synthesis of history."

— Van Allen Bradley, Chicago Daily News

"A grand, sweeping narrative... will continue to be read and remembered as a classic of its kind."

— Richard N. Current, N.Y. Herald Tribune

The Civil War:

A Narrative

Fredericksburg to Meridian

"This, then, is narrative history — a kind of history that goes back to an older literary tradition... The writing is superb ... one of the historical and literary achievements of our time."

— T. Harry Williams, Book World

"The lucidity of the battle narratives, the vigor of the prose, the strong feeling for the men from generals to privates who did the fighting, are all controlled by a constant sense of how it happened and what it was all about. Foote has the novelist's feeling for character and situation, without losing the historian's scrupulous regard for recorded fact. The Civil War is likely to stand unequalled."

— Walter Millis

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The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the first in what is generally considered the seminal historical narrative of the Civil War. Shelby Foote's lyrical style positively shimmers and his pacing clearly reflects his training as a novelist. The size of this book will deter many, but don't let it deter you. Foote spent 30 years writing this series and the care he took is obvious. Someone who reviewed this series called an 'The American Illiad' and it is at least that. When I was done with the third book (Red River to Appomattox), the last line left me in tears (note: do not expect to be moved to tears by skipping to the last line!). Despite its sheer size, this series should be considered among the best writing by any American author, ever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This summer, I resolved that I was going to begin and finish the Shelby Foote Civil War Trilogy ... mainly because it was such a challenge. Having read many, many volumes on the Civil War by a multitude of authors both fiction and non-fiction, I was pretty sure there was not a lot I could learn by trudging through the some 3,000 pages. Was I ever wrong! Foote manages to give the entire affair, north and south, east and west ... on land on and on the sea a clarity that had previously proved rather elusive as I read bits and pieces of the war battle-by-battle, general-by-general. I had previously read the wonderful 'Battle Cry of Freedom' by James McPhereson and had also read Bruce Catton. While both of these authors were wonderful, neither gave me anywhere near the overall depth and detail that I got from spending my summer with Shelby Foote. So, in conclusion, no matter what else you have or will read on the Civil War, you must invest the time to read the Foote Trilogy ... you will be glad that you did. It is absolutely essential!
seadogLP More than 1 year ago
Shelby Foote opens his masterpiece, The Civil War, A Narrative with the resignation of Jefferson Davis from the Senate on 21 January 1861 recounting his farewell address, departure for Mississippi and rendezvous with destiny. Anticipating a commission in the state militia, fate had greater challenges in store for this veteran of the Mexican War, past Secretary of War, respected statesman and formerly loyal servant of the Union. On that same date the relatively unknown president elect, Abraham Lincoln, made his final preparations to leave Springfield, Illinois for his pending inauguration in Washington D. C. Their lives now hopelessly intertwined, for the next four years the fate of millions rested upon the decisions of these two brilliant, principled and personally tormented men. Indeed the very future of the United States hinged upon the strengths and weaknesses of these two extraordinary yet fallible mortals. The Civil War, A Narrative closes with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in 1865 and the subsequent ordeal of Jefferson Davis until his death in 1889. Flanked by these events Shelby Foote covers every major land and naval campaign of the American Civil War. The Civil War, A Narrative is far more than a military history however. The author describes in exquisite detail the personalities and politics behind the scenes of these momentous events. The vicious political infighting and bitter personality conflicts often had more impact on the battlefield than the troops drawn up in closely ordered ranks. In his closing note Shelby Foote discloses two primary objectives for The Civil War, A Narrative. The first, in his words, is “recreating the war and making it live again.” This he accomplishes with skillful prose and rich detail. He captivates the reader from first page to last with political and personal elements, making the titanic struggle come to life in real, human terms. The second stated objective is to bring “balance” between the Eastern and Western Theaters of this enormous conflict. Far too many texts focus on the epic battles fought in Virginia, the heroic qualities of Lee and Jackson, and the incredible ineptitude of McDowell, Pope, McClellan, Burnside and Hooker. One cannot finish The Civil War, A Narrative without a greater appreciation of the critical nature of the conflict in the west. To paraphrase Shelby Foote, truly the siege of Vicksburg was as decisive as the battle of Gettysburg if not more so. The capture of Fort Donelson, which introduced Grant, and masterful recovery at Shiloh, which thrust him onto the national scene, may have had more to do with the final outcome of the war than any battle in the east before 1863. Even the naval war, often glossed over in many texts, receives fair treatment considering the scope of the work. If James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom is the best single volume account of the civil war as many claim, then The Civil War, A Narrative is, without a doubt, the finest multi-volume account for the lay reader. Thoroughly researched, richly detailed, artfully depicted, yet highly readable Shelby Foote painlessly educates through discerning analysis while he entertains. The Civil War, A Narrative is the work of a master craftsman. Organized chronologically by major campaigns, Shelby Foote shifts seamlessly from the Eastern Theater to the Western; from the brown water battles to the blue water engagements; from the vicious politics at home to the diplomatic intrigues abroad; giving the reader an encompassing overview of the civil war. The strength of The Civil War, A Narrative lies in the meticulous research, captivating prose and rich human detail typical of the author. Many history texts claim to hold your interest like a novel. Shelby Foote delivers with the ease and natural style of a gifted storyteller. This wealth of historical and personal information keeps The Civil War, A Narrative fresh and relevant in a field saturated with worthy texts. Each volume ends with a List of Maps, Bibliographical Note and Index. The Bibliographical Note is the work’s only weakness. While I do not doubt the accuracy of the account, as a historian I would prefer a more comprehensive citation of sources if for no other reason than to expand my own reading. In addition, if the lack of footnotes was a conscious decision in order to preserve the “book’s narrative quality” as Shelby Foote asserts, end notes would have served the same purpose while giving the reader the opportunity not so much to verify but to further explore the subject for himself. Do not be intimidated by its nearly 3000 pages. The Civil War, A Narrative is one of those books you cannot put down yet regret when you finish, as you are left longing for more. The depth of research satisfies the most exacting scholar, the exciting prose captivates the civil war buff and the depiction of human drama entices the casual reader. There is something here for everyone. One of the many ironies that impressed me in reading The Civil War, A Narrative, was the parallel between the election campaigns of 1864 and 2004. In both cases, vitriolic democrats led by former generals turned politician plagued the president, who, even on the brink of victory, ranked poorly in public opinion. Attacks on the president by the press are nothing new either. Consider the lead editorial of the New York World run after the National Union (Republican) convention nominated Lincoln and Johnson, “The age of the statesman is gone, the age of rail-splitters and tailors, of buffoons, boors, and fanatics, has succeeded…. In a crisis of the most appalling magnitude, requiring statesmanship of the highest order, the country is asked to consider the claims of two ignorant, boorish, third-rate backwoods lawyers, for the highest situations in the government. Such nominations, in such a conjecture, are an insult to the common-sense of the people. God save the republic.” For a comprehensive, insightful overview of America’s greatest conflict, Shelby Foote’s work is second to none. It is well worth the reader’s investment in time and definitely belongs in the library of any serious Civil War student.
Fireman46 More than 1 year ago
You will not find many historical books that flow like this one. It makes history come alive on the pages. One of the best books I have ever read. The attention to detail and the southern style of story telling really shines through.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got into this book after my history teacher told me that he was reading all three volumes of this series and being the history buff that I am, I started to read it and I was amazed how well witten Mr. Foote wrote this. I plan on reading the other two volumes as well.
FARIEQUEENE More than 1 year ago
This well researched and beautiful accounts is one of my favorites and the author is fair and without bias.
wildbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shelby Foote's three volume history of the Civil War is a true classic. His writing is thorough and detailed without ever being dry. It is literature of a very high caliber. Foote also includes many very good maps that help to follow the narrative. He does not have the northern slant of Bruce Catton and James McPherson, two other well known authorities on the Civil War.I really enjoyed Foote's details regarding the people involved in the war. He does very good capsules on the major figures, generals and politicians. He also presents the point of view and interesting bits of conversation of the enlisted men who did most of the fighting and dieing. This is primarily a military history of the Civil War and covers all battles large and small. Foote did get some flack from academicians because he did not use any footnotes. This makes the book easier to read and directs it to the general audience. I have never read anything that said his accounts are not accurate. I would recommend this volume as excellent narrative history and a very good book. The civil war is part of our history that is especially important in the South where I live. The saying is that in the South the civil war is not over yet. Reading this book while I watch the campaign of Barack Obama is a lesson in what social change really means.
wvlibrarydude on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderful narrative on Civil War. The battles are good, but I really enjoy the insight into the people and their lives. Foote paints portraits that are multifaceted with faults and glories. You'll be astounded by the actions and words of say Lincoln, Davis, Lee, or some of the others... a few pages later you will be surprised at how idiotic or contemptuous their actions or words can be.Very long, but well worth the read. I'll wait a few weeks before tackling v.2.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really sees both sides of Civil War
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow i love this book
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J_Mc More than 1 year ago
The way Mr. Foote weaves the story from both sides keeps the interest high and I look forward to the rest of the series.
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