So I finished Shelby Foote’s Civil War trilogy late last night, and let’s get this out of the way: The Union wins.
It took me a while to get to there. I started on this journey last year, about the end of July. I plodded through volume one and the first half of volume two — through Shiloh and Fredericksburg and Gettysburg and Vicksburg and so many other places in between — by Christmas. But then, the daunting task of finishing all 2,836 pages became too much. I put it down for most of the spring, returning to volume two with about 200 pages left when I went on a family beach vacation in late June. The uninterrupted reading time proved beneficial; the Confederacy was worn down to nothing in a few beach days’ time.
Thoughts, you ask? Not too many, really. Foote’s writing remains superb, the novelist telling the true story of this most important event in our nation’s history. Foote is an appreciator of glory and fine generalship; I could’ve used a little more about the everyman’s role. Yet the trilogy is considered the authoritative account of the war for a reason and I’m glad I read it.
I’d like to start Taylor Branch’s civil rights movement trilogy next. Maybe I’ll finish it in a little less than 11 months.