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Shelby Foote / Author

Discussion in 'Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by Gatorhead, Oct 8, 2021.

  1. Gatorhead

    Gatorhead GC Hall of Fame

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    Hello Too Hotter's

    Try to bring different topics to the board sometimes that are not specifically current politics and just Pubs / Dem's blasting each other. If it's in the wrong forum, mod's please delete or move.

    Most of you will be familiar with his 3 volume "Civil War" series. I read and LOVED those books - or his participation in Ken Burns "The Civil War" documentary series.

    So I was a bit bored and have been watching You Tube videos starring of course "Shelby Foote". Specifically a series of C-Span interviews with him conducted from the mid - 90's up to his death in 2005.

    First, as a Southerner by birth, I was immediately drawn to his Southern charm and mannerisms, he is without question a GREAT storyteller and author.

    If I could define the "Quintessential Southerner" and what one would "HOPE" they would be, Shelby Foote would have been my human example of it.

    So as I am watching these videos, I realized how ignorant I was about the depth and breadth of this incredible man. He is so much more than a Civil War historian.

    Listening to him describe his craft is a journey anyone interested in literature would be amazed by.

    Listening to him describe the personalities in his Civil War series leaves one with the impression Shelby was present, in the Wilderness, at Antietam, at Gettysburg, at Appomattox.

    Listening to him vocalize his relationships with other writers, people, and the world at large will be an enriching experience for anyone.

    Of course Shelby's views on the war and his thoughts on it are not as popular today as in the 80's and 90's. Perhaps his most controversial statement when asked:

    Whom would you have fought for? North or South - His answer, unquestionably and without hesitation: THE SOUTH / THE CONFEDERACY.

    The interviewers always ask - Why Shelby? For such an odious cause??
    His reply: No matter how ODIOUS the cause, I'm from Greenville, Mississippi, this is my home, these are my people, this is where I live, this is ME. (I could NEVER abandon my people, no matter what) and he throws in the proviso that it was Yankees
    invading the South (primarily with few exceptions). He also advises his answer is in the context of the time's, (1860's) not a view from the 1990's, not a hypothetical.

    This is unpalatable to some people today but makes perfect sense to me.

    Any soldier or person in the military reading this may agree that at the end of the day, when bullets fly, what is one fighting for anyway? Most would answer FOR THE PEOPLE STANDING NEXT TO ME. FOR MY UNIT. The ideological and political considerations melt away pretty fast.............at least so I have heard, myself, I am not a soldier so I do not claim real experience.

    Lastly, to close this out, and much to my surprise, Shelby Foote is considered by many
    to be one of the great writers and men of letters in American History. I mean some rank him among the HEAVYWEIGHTS of American literature such as Faulkner.

    It's really cool when he starts breaking down other authors such as Shakespeare, Proust, Sandburg and others, it gives one a sense of just what a genius this man was.

    I suggest any readers of this thread break away from fox or cnn a bit and catch up on this great great man, I encourage you to do so, hopefully you will find it as rewarding and enriching as I.
     
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  2. Gator515151

    Gator515151 GC Hall of Fame

    Apr 4, 2007
    I'm currently reading Dr Seuss. I find Green Eggs and Ham quite interesting.
     
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  3. wgbgator

    wgbgator Premium Member

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    A Van Down By the River

    He's a talented writer, but its never been a secret where his sympathies are. Civil War Dads of a certain age either fall on the Foote tip or James McPherson tip (Battle Cry of Freedom). If you like the one, you probably have bad things to say about the other.
     
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  4. GrandPrixGator

    GrandPrixGator Premium Member

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    Having read a lot of historians, he’s easily in my top 5.
     
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  5. VAg8r1

    VAg8r1 GC Hall of Fame

    Apr 8, 2007
    The reading of the classic by Ted Cruz comes immediately to mind.
     
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  6. officelife

    officelife Senior

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    I have never understood how someone can use the defending my home/people when those people are actively enslaving other humans.

    Those leaders and soldiers of that era, in the south, had an opportunity to help liberate an enslaved people. They failed and as a result, the south still continues to struggle and their legacy of being evil is cemented in history.
     
  7. Gatorhead

    Gatorhead GC Hall of Fame

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    Foote rankles those who's interpretation is he was "Sympathetic" to Southern Ideologies of the time. I believe this is an over-simplification with some added bitterness by (some) modern historians, that Foote finds anything redeeming about the south.

    Personally I think current political activism leaves little room for any sympathies associated with the Souths participation in the war, the automatic default being: Southerners were all "Apostates of Hell and the Bogeyman".

    Of course this could not be further from the truth. And history, it's interpretation, is of course written by the "winners".

    I also believe that Americans don't appreciate exactly what a "foreign occupation", bent on the destruction of native sons and infrastructure really does to the psyche of individuals. (IRREGARDLESS of CAUSE).

    Consider the American experience in Vietnam, or more recently in Iran or Afghanistan. If Americans think the (locals) emphasis on LOCALS, not Americans, in those two campaigns, considered the American's and their presence as "Good Guys"......well, I encourage folks whom believe that to think again and study the history.

    I don't agree with everything he says of course and find it hard to defend his obsession with Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom he considers a great man on the level with Lincoln. But having said that, I'm no expert on Forrest and have plenty of catching up to do on Lincoln.

    BUT - I implore the reader of this thread to not only consider his opinions of the Civil War. Consider his brilliance when discussing his craft, writing........his discussion on that is where I found him most interesting and intriguing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2021
  8. gator7_5

    gator7_5 GC Hall of Fame

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    Agreed on all fronts. Anyone criticizing Lee for rejecting the offer to lead the union in favor of the fighting the war for the south is an imbecile. I mean, you can't blame Lincoln for trying, but no one with any kind of loyalty at all is taking that offer.
     
  9. wgbgator

    wgbgator Premium Member

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    A Van Down By the River
    Alan Guelzo sums it up pretty well:

    "Thus Did Robert E. Lee pass through his third decision, a decision in which he irrevocably, finally, publicly turned his back on his service, his flag, and ultimately his country. All of this was done for the sake of a political regime whose acknowledged purpose was the preservation of a system of chattel slavery that he knew to be evil and for which he felt little affection and whose constitutional basis he dismissed as a fiction."

    What exactly was he loyal too? Not his country or his military career/notions of service. Certainly not any sort of notion of morality or personal conscience.
     
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  10. Gatorhead

    Gatorhead GC Hall of Fame

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    Agree,

    Pretty damn hard to pick up a gun, desert to another side and start shooting your kin folk..............
     
  11. Gatorhead

    Gatorhead GC Hall of Fame

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    Absolutely a great point (and post) the horrible dilemma of that war.
    Brother's fighting Brother's..................

    I so hope that choice does not become something our generation has to deal with if you get my drift...........
     
  12. mutz87

    mutz87 p=.06 VIP Member

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    Sorry @Gatorhead , Foote like too many civil war historians, they became overly enamored with a narrative that sought to justify the unjustifiable, his love of NBF as but one big example. His critics were far more correct than not.
     
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  13. wgbgator

    wgbgator Premium Member

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    A Van Down By the River
    Its weird to me that people call him a 'historian' when he's basically a hobbyist. Not that hobbyists cant write engaging history or prose non-fiction, but the guy has no academic background in history.
     
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  14. mutz87

    mutz87 p=.06 VIP Member

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    True, I was going to use the word buff. In any case, there remains a deep psychological need to neutralize the ugly central reason for the CW and Foote more than most exemplified this. But things are changing and confederate sympathizing propaganda is dying.
     
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