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Answers Tom Send a noteboard - 28/10/2010 08:52:48 PM
- How far back does his introduction go (I know the essentials of the Civil War, but very little about the, well, half century before it, really), and how much later does the epilogue/whatever go - does it discuss Reconstruction and that conquest of the West that you mention in much detail?

It starts with Senator Jefferson Davis resigning from the Senate. If you are interested in a lengthy explanation for the causes for the war you won't find it in this trilogy, which is more about the war itself. I'm sure there are plenty of books that do cover it, though.

- Do the books devote much attention to the geopolitical ramifications of the war, and the role played by the various other powers of the time?

The South's quest for international recognition is well-documented, which really is about how Great Britain was disinclined to recognize a nation that came into existence almost solely as the result of its desire to hold slaves, and how France under Napoleon III would not act without Great Britain. Russia was pro-Union from the start.

- Since you mention "the greatness of Lincoln" standing in sharp contrast to those around him, does that mean Foote is guilty of the common American habit of hero-worship for certain presidents that makes non-American readers (i.e. me) rather sceptical? I've long felt that the real merits of men like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln are nearly impossible to determine because of all the hero-worship in most American sources (and in Lincoln's case, his assassination doesn't help either) - it's exaggerated, but by how much? I'd be interested in attempts to balance those portrayals out a bit, the way historiography has done with e.g. Winston Churchill, or Napoleon.

Foote notes that Lincoln was a skillful politician and doesn't have any problems stating that he would break "any promise" if it suited him. He tries to portray Lincoln in his totality, rather than through a distorting lens of idealism (in fact, he avoids falling into the trap of the "noble cause" of the South, too). However, your comments about hero-worship seem to apply to a different America than the present one. In the post-Watergate Presidential myth-smashing and cynical America of the turn of the millennium, there is very little inclination to engage in hero-worship. If anything, Foote showed me in a far more mature way that the hero-worship had a sound basis in fact, and that in our haste to tear down idols we perhaps discount too much. While the book may have been written (mostly) before the cynical turn in America, it seemed to anticipate it and makes a stronger, more compelling argument for thinking people, rather than resort to base cliche.
Political correctness is the pettiest form of casuistry.

ἡ δὲ κἀκ τριῶν τρυπημάτων ἐργαζομένη ἐνεκάλει τῇ φύσει, δυσφορουμένη, ὅτι δὴ μὴ καὶ τοὺς τιτθοὺς αὐτῇ εὐρύτερον ἢ νῦν εἰσι τρυπώη, ὅπως καὶ ἄλλην ἐνταῦθα μίξιν ἐπιτεχνᾶσθαι δυνατὴ εἴη. – Procopius

Ummaka qinnassa nīk!

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The Civil War by Shelby Foote. - 28/10/2010 08:25:39 PM 11536 Views
Thank you for the review. - 28/10/2010 08:37:38 PM 1252 Views
If you do, be sure to let me know what you think - 28/10/2010 08:56:15 PM 1235 Views
I will. - 28/10/2010 09:24:00 PM 1271 Views
Interesting. I do have a number of questions... - 28/10/2010 08:38:46 PM 1305 Views
Answers - 28/10/2010 08:52:48 PM 1441 Views
Re: Answers - 28/10/2010 09:22:01 PM 1390 Views
Thanks for the review. - 28/10/2010 11:09:19 PM 1274 Views
You should! - 30/10/2010 05:35:03 AM 1311 Views
Excellent. - 29/10/2010 02:24:56 AM 1434 Views
Chandler's book is excellent. - 29/10/2010 03:28:18 PM 1451 Views
I am curious - 30/10/2010 03:38:56 AM 1462 Views
Foote mentions it. - 30/10/2010 05:34:33 AM 1331 Views
Cool. *NM* - 31/10/2010 02:05:05 AM 703 Views
My brain instantly assumed it would be about Britain. Huh. - 30/10/2010 12:00:54 PM 1240 Views

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