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Chip R
06-28-2005, 05:34 PM
For those of you not familiar with his books, he was one of the main persons who did on-camera narrations for Ken Burns' The Civil War miniseries on PBS. I have his 3 volume Civil War narrative and it is excellent work.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/obit_foote;_ylt=AtSj12Bl8cwnWhUWNq28Xrus0NUE;_ylu= X3oDMTA3ODdxdHBhBHNlYwM5NjQ-

Novelist, War Historian Shelby Foote Dies
By WOODY BAIRD, Associated Press Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Novelist and Civil War historian Shelby Foote, who became a national celebrity explaining the war to America on Ken Burns' 1990 PBS documentary, has died at 88.

Foote died Monday night, said his widow, Gwyn.

The Mississippi native and longtime Memphis resident wrote a stirring, three-volume, 3,000-page history of the Civil War, as well as six novels.

"He had a gift for presenting vivid portraits of personalities, from privates in the ranks to generals and politicians. And he had a gift for character, for the apt quotation, for the dramatic event, for the story behind the story," said James M. McPherson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian. "He could also write a crackling good narrative of a campaign or a battle."

On Burns' 11-hour PBS series "The Civil War," Foote became an immediate hit with his encyclopedic knowledge of the war, soft Southern accent and easy manner. With his gray beard and gentlemanly carriage, he seemed to have stepped straight out of a Mathew Brady photograph.

Later he would say that being a celebrity made him uneasy, and he worried it might detract from the seriousness of his work.

Foote worked on the Civil War history for 20 years, using his skills as a novelist to write in a flowing, narrative style.

"I can't conceive of writing it any other way," he once said. "Narrative history is the kind that comes closest to telling the truth. You can never get to the truth, but that's your goal."

Though a native Southerner, Foote did not favor South in his history or novels and was not counted among those Southern historians who regard the Civil War as the great Lost Cause.

He publicly criticized segregationist politicians and abruptly abandoned a move to the Alabama coast in the 1960s because of the racist attitudes he found there.

"He was a Southerner of great intellect who took up the issue of the Civil War as a writer with huge sanity and sympathy," said Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford, a friend and fellow Mississippi native.

Foote attended the University of North Carolina for two years and served in World War II, though he never saw combat.

His first novel, "Tournament," was started before the war and published in 1949. Then came "Follow Me Down" in 1950, "Love in a Dry Season" in 1951, "Shiloh" in 1952 and "Jordan County" in 1954.

That same year, Random House asked him to write a single-volume history of the Civil War. He took the job, but it grew into a three-volume project finally finished in 1974.

In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Foote's "The Civil War: A Narrative" as No. 15 on its list of the century's 100 best English-language works of nonfiction.

His final novel, "September, September," published in 1978, tells the story of an ignorant white couple who kidnap the son of a rich black businessman in the 1950s. It became the basis for a TV move starring fellow Memphis resident Cybill Shepherd.

Foote was born Nov. 7, 1916, in Greenville, Miss., a small Delta town with a literary bent. Walker Percy was a boyhood and lifelong friend, and Foote, as a young man, served as a "jackleg reporter" for the crusading editor Hodding Carter on The Delta Star. As a young man, Foote got to know William Faulkner.

During World War II, he was an Army captain of artillery until he lost his commission for using a military vehicle without authorization to visit a female friend and was discharged from the Army. He joined the Marines and was still stateside when the war ended.

He tried journalism again after World War II, signing on briefly with The Associated Press in its New York bureau.

Early in his career, Foote took up the habit of writing by hand with an old-fashioned dipped pen, and he continued that practice throughout his life. Foote said writing by hand helped him slow down to a manageable pace and was more personal than using a typewriter.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Margaret Shelby, and a son, Huger Lee. A graveside service is planned in Memphis on Thursday.

RedsBaron
06-28-2005, 06:56 PM
Great writer, and I loved to listen to him. R.I.P.

UKFlounder
06-28-2005, 07:03 PM
His 3-volume set on the Civil War fascinated me and was responsible for sparking my interest in the subject. Since I read those books - a wonderful Christmas present in the mid 1990s - I've collected & read dozens of books on the war and remain very interested in it. It is a subject I enjoy very much, and his writing helped make it that way.

I think I had that interest previously, but his books were the first I ever read on my own (i.e. not assigned by any teacher or professor) and definitely influenced me to read more.

His role in the Burns film was also memorable.

This is sad news for me.

RIP, Mr. Foote.

Mutaman
06-28-2005, 11:59 PM
Mr Foote was wonderful during Burn's documentary. He had a great quote from Faulkner's "Intruder in the Dust" which made me sort of understand what its like to be a southerner. RIP.

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two oclock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is stll time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armstead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago....

Falls City Beer
06-29-2005, 12:10 AM
We need more thorough-going historians like Foote. RIP.

Unassisted
06-29-2005, 06:15 AM
Here's a longer profile of him and his work at the Univ of Mississippi English Dept. site.

http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/ms-writers/dir/foote_shelby/