Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I've Started Shelby Foote's "Civil War"

Shelby Foote - Southern Man of Letters

Now that I've finished a biography of Douglas MacArthur, I've decided to take the plunge into Shelby Foote's three volume history of the Civil War. (Sorry Admiral Nimitz, you'll have to wait.)

To be fair I'm not reading it. My conscience compels me to admit that I'm not reading it in the strict sense. I'm listening to it as an audio-book. Yes, I feel a little twinge of guilt for not actually reading the book, but I don't feel that guilty.

Actually, I feel so little guilt that I actually have a complaint about the audio-book - the reader's voice is not that good. The reader's voice is tinny and flatly accented (no accent at all), sounding more like a computer than an actual person. This is such a shame, since Foote had a wonderful low, gravely Southern accent that just curled up on you like a sleepy cat  looking for a warm place to rest.

In learning a tiny bit about Foote himself, I have come across some wonderful anecdotes about his life and quotes from him about writing and life in general. One of my favorite anecdotes is as follows:
A story I’ve heard, possibly apocryphal, has it that Shelby Foote and William Faulkner once made a pilgrimage together to the battlefields of Shiloh, in Tennessee. It was a Sunday morning, but along the way they were able to score some moonshine from a fellow they spotted having his shoes shined, Faulkner’s logic being that any man having his shoes shined was likely to know where to find some whiskey. By the time they’d reached the battlefield’s famed Peach Orchard, they were loose enough to want to reenact the great cavalry charge on their own, sabers drawn in their minds. That’s how to drink like a Southerner.
I hope that's a true story.

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