Shelby Foote

(Shelby Dade Foote Jr.)

Shelby Foote
Shelby Foote
  • Born: November 17, 1916
  • Died: June 27, 2005
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Author

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Shelby Dade Foote Jr. was an American historian and novelist who wrote The Civil War: A Narrative, a three-volume history of the American Civil War. With geographic and cultural roots in the Mississippi Delta, Foote's life and writing paralleled the radical shift from the agrarian planter system of the Old South to the Civil Rights era of the New South. Foote was little known to the general public until his appearance in Ken Burns's PBS documentary The Civil War in 1990, where he introduced a generation of Americans to a war that he believed was "central to all our lives." Foote did all his writing by hand with a nib pen, later transcribing the result into a typewritten copy.

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Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. I believe that firmly. It defined us. History
The Civil War still remains the crossroads of our being. History ;War & Peace
And I really do think that the difficulty of research makes it more real to you than punching a thing to find out how many men were killed at this particular action.
And I'm a slow writer: five, six hundred words is a good day. That's the reason it took me 20 years to write those million and a half words of the Civil War. War & Peace
But the same thing was true in the army. You slept in a barracks with all kinds of people of every nationality, every trade, every character and quality you can imagine, and that was a good experience.
Getting close to books, and spending time by myself, I was obliged to think about things I would never have thought about if I was busy romping around with a brother and sister. Time
I began the way nearly everybody I ever heard of - I began writing poetry. And I find that to be quite usual with writers, their trying their hand at poetry. Literature, Writers & Writing
I don't want anything to do with anything mechanical between me and the paper, including a typewriter, and I don't even want a fountain pen between me and the paper.
I never cared what kind of grade I got.
I prize the Depression, for instance, because I learned the value of things in the Depression that a way people who don't have to worry about such things never learned to prize it really, I believe.
I think making mistakes and discovering them for yourself is of great value, but to have someone else to point out your mistakes is a shortcut of the process.
I think that everything you do helps you to write if you're a writer. Adversity and success both contribute largely to making you what you are. If you don't experience either one of those, you're being deprived of something. Success
I took five years on the first volume, five years on the second volume, and ten years on the third volume.
I used to write sonnets and various things, and moved from there into writing prose, which, incidentally, is a lot more interesting than poetry, including the rhythms of prose. Literature, Writers & Writing
If you want to study writing, read Dickens. That's how to study writing, or Faulkner, or D.H. Lawrence, or John Keats. They can teach you everything you need to know about writing.
I'm crazy about Grant: his character, his nature, his science in fighting and everything else. But I don't like the idea that he never accepted the blame for anything, always found someone else to blame for any mistake that was ever made, including blaming Prentiss for Shiloh. Nature ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I've never shown anybody a draft of anything.
Longevity conquers scandal every time. Time
Most of my inspiration, if that's the word, came from books themselves.
My second book, Follow Me Down had some success, got good critical notices, went into a second printing and things like that, but Shiloh was by far the most successful of those first five novels. Success
Of all the passions of mankind, the love of novelty most rules the mind. In search of this, from realm to realm we roam. Our fleets come loaded with every folly home. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Shiloh is a wonderfully dramatic battle. The leader of one side is killed, and the other one is going on to glory, and it was the first great battle. It lasted two days.
When you grow up in a totally segregated society, where everybody around you believes that segregation is proper, you have a hard time. You can't believe how much it's a part of your thinking. Society ;Time

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