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The Civil War: A Narrative

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The Civil War: A Narrative  
250px
Volumes 1-3, hardcover
Author Shelby Foote
Country United States
Language English
Subject(s) American Civil War
Genre(s) Narrative history
Publisher Random House
Publication date 1958, 1963, 1974
Pages 2,968
ISBN 0394465121, 0394419510, 0394419480
OCLC Number 86110903
Dewey Decimal 973.7
LC Classification E468 .F7

The Civil War: A Narrative (1958-1974) is a three volume, 2,968-page, 1.2 million-word history of the American Civil War by Shelby Foote. Although previously known as a novelist, Foote is most famous for this non-fictional narrative history. While it touches on political and social themes, the main thrust of the work is military history. The individual volumes include Fort Sumter to Perryville (1958), Fredericksburg to Meridian (1963), and Red River to Appomattox (1974).

WritingEdit

On the strength of his novel Shiloh, Random House asked Foote for a short Civil War history. Foote soon realized that the project would require much more time and energy. Random House agreed, and using the money from his 1955 Guggenheim Fellowship (Foote won Guggenheims also in 1956 and 1959), Foote set out to write the trilogy's first volume, Fort Sumter to Perryville. This 400,000-word account was published in 1958. By 1963 Foote had finished the second volume, Fredericksburg to Meridian.

In 1964 he began Volume 3, Red River to Appomattox, but found himself repeatedly distracted by the ongoing events in the nation and was not able to finish and publish it until 1974. Writing the third volume took as many years as had the first two combined.

VolumesEdit

Fort Sumter to PerryvilleEdit

The first volume covers the roots of the war to the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862. All the significant battles are here, from Bull Run through Shiloh, the Seven Days Battles, Second Bull Run to Antietam, and Perryville in the fall of 1862, but so are the smaller and often equally important engagements on both land and sea: Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island No. Ten, New Orleans, Monitor versus Merrimac, and Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign.

Fredericksburg to MeridianEdit

The second volume is dominated by the almost continual confrontation of great armies. The starting point for this volume is the Battle of Fredericksburg, fought on December 13, 1862, between General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. For the fourth time, the Army of the Potomac attempts to take Richmond, resulting in the bloodbath at Fredericksburg. Then Joseph Hooker tries again, only to be repulsed at Chancellorsville as Stonewall Jackson turns his flank, resulting in Jackson's mortal wounding.

In the West, one of the most complex and determined sieges of the war has begun. Here, Ulysses S. Grant's seven relentless efforts against Vicksburg demonstrate Lincoln's and Grant's determination. With Vicksburg finally under siege, Lee again invades the North. The three-day conflict at Gettysburg receives significant coverage. (The lengthy chapter on Gettysburg has also been published as a separate book, Stars in Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863; his account of Vicksburg was published separately as The Beleaguered City: The Vicksburg Campaign, December 1862-July 1863.)

Red River to AppomattoxEdit

Foote brings to a close the story of four years of turmoil and strife that altered American life forever. The final volume opens with the beginning of the two final, major confrontations of the war: Grant against Lee in Virginia, and Sherman pressing Johnston in North Georgia in 1864. The narrative describes the events and battles from Sherman's March to the Sea to Lincoln's assassination and the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.

Shelby Foote's comments on writingEdit

I am what is called a narrative historian. Narrative history is getting more popular all the time but it's not a question of twisting the facts into a narrative. It's not a question of anything like that. What it is, is discovering the plot that's there just as the painter discovered the colors in shadows or Renoir discovered these children. I maintain that anything you can possibly learn about putting words together in a narrative form by writing novels is especially valuable to you when you write history. There is no great difference between writing novels and writing histories other than this: If you have a character named Lincoln in a novel that's not Abraham Lincoln, you can give him any color eyes you want to. But if you want to describe the color of Abraham Lincoln's, President Lincoln's eyes, you have to know what color they were. They were gray. So you're working with facts that came out of documents, just like in a novel you are working with facts that came out of your head or most likely out of your memory. Once you have control of those facts, once you possess them, you can handle them exactly as a novelist handles his facts. No good novelist would be false to his facts, and certainly no historian is allowed to be false to his facts under any circumstances. I've never known, at least a modern historical instance, where the truth wasn't superior to distortion in every way.

—Shelby Foote seminar excerpt, New York State Writers Institute, March 20, 1997

Detailed release informationEdit

Original release by Random House:

  • The Civil War: A Narrative. New York: Random House. 1958-1974. ISBN 0307290387. 
    1. The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville. New York: Random House. 1958. ISBN 0307290395. 
    2. The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian. New York: Random House. 1963. ISBN 0307290409. 
    3. The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox. New York: Random House. 1974. ISBN 0307290417. 



Vintage Books, a Random House subsidiary, issued the series as trade paperbacks in 1986:

  • The Civil War: A Narrative. New York: Vintage Books. 1958-1974. ISBN 0394749138. 
    1. The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville. New York: Vintage Books. 1958. ISBN 0394746236. 
    2. The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian. New York: Vintage Books. 1963. ISBN 039474621X. 
    3. The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox. New York: Vintage Books. 1974. ISBN 0394746228. 

Beginning in 1999, Time–Life published a fourteen volume "40th Anniversary Edition" with contemporary photographs and illustrations. This edition was sold by subscription, but when Time–Life exited the book business, remaindered copies appeared in bookstores. Relatively few copies of volume 13 were printed, increasing the value of that volume and the set as a whole. The divisions were based on keeping each volume to 288-300 pages (a few are shorter or longer), rather than historic or thematic considerations. Each volume has its own index, which appears to be more-detailed than the indexes in the three-volume edition. For example, "Rockfish Gap" appears in volume 13 of the Time–Life set, but not in volume 3 of the original edition.

  1. The Civil War: A Narrative, Secession to Fort Henry (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999. ISBN 0783501005. 
  2. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Donelson to Memphis (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999. ISBN 0783501013. 
  3. The Civil War: A Narrative, Yorktown to Cedar Mountain (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999. ISBN 0783501021. 
  4. The Civil War: A Narrative, Second Manassas to Pocotaligo (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999. ISBN 078350103X. 
  5. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fredericksburg to Steele Bayou (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999. ISBN 0783501048. 
  6. The Civil War: A Narrative, Charleston Harbor to Vicksburg (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999. ISBN 0783501056. 
  7. The Civil War: A Narrative, Gettysburg to Draft Riots (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999. ISBN 0783501064. 
  8. The Civil War: A Narrative, Tullahoma to Missionary Ridge (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999. ISBN 0783501072. 
  9. The Civil War: A Narrative, Mine Run to Meridian (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2001. ISBN 0783501080. 
  10. The Civil War: A Narrative, Red River to Spotsylvania (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2001. ISBN 0783501099. 
  11. The Civil War: A Narrative, Yellow Tavern to Cold Harbor (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2000. ISBN 0783501102. 
  12. The Civil War: A Narrative, James Crossing to Johnsonville (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2000. ISBN 0783501110. 
  13. The Civil War: A Narrative, Petersburg Siege to Bentonville (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2000. ISBN 0783501129. 
  14. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Stedman to Reconstruction (40th Anniversary Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2000. ISBN 0783501137. 

In 2005, Random House published the narratives as nine volumes by splitting the original three into three volumes each. Some of the maps from the original work, hand drawn by Foote, were replaced by more elaborate, full-color maps that originally appeared in the Time-Life Civil War history series. Photographs and artwork were also added.

  1. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Sumter to Kernstown: First Blood-The Thing Gets Under Way. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 0307290239. 
  2. The Civil War: A Narrative, Pea Ridge to the Seven Days: War Means Fighting, Fighting Means Killing. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 0307290247. 
  3. The Civil War: A Narrative, Second Manassas to Perryville: The Sun Shines South. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 0307290255. 
  4. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville: The Longest Journey. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 0307290263. 
  5. The Civil War: A Narrative, Gettysburg to Vicksburg: Unvexed to the Sea. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 0307290271. 
  6. The Civil War: A Narrative, Tullahoma to Meridian: Riot and Resurgence. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 030729028X. 
  7. The Civil War: A Narrative, Red River to Chattahoochee: Another Grand Design. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 0307290298. 
  8. The Civil War: A Narrative, Petersburg to Savannah: War Is Cruelty-You Cannot Refine It. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 0307290301. 
  9. The Civil War: A Narrative, Five Forks to Appomattox: Victory and Defeat. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 030729031X. 

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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