A biography that plumbs the ambiguous life of the gentlemanly novelist and historian
The New York TimesC. Stuart Chapman's brisk, colorful biography gives a frank, full-bodied portrait of the man and an agile examination of Foote's development as a writer. — Sherie Posesorski
The Washington PostShelby Foote was already well known to literate students of our national Iliad as the author of a brilliant trilogy, The Civil War: A Narrative. Stuart Chapman, entranced by Foote's performance, felt it his destiny to become the historian's biographer, with the present result. A Writer's Life, it is called; and it is indeed a literary biography in which the processes and politics of writing are paramount and sometimes threaten to overwhelm the personal detail. — Edwin M. Yoder Jr.
Library JournalShelby Foote (b. 1916) was first thrust into the limelight as the enchanting Southern gentleman historian retelling the history of the Civil War in Ken Burns's PBS series. As Massachusetts State House aide Chapman reminds us in this elegant biography, such fame eluded Foote during most of his life. He draws on interviews with Foote and letters between Foote and numerous correspondents, including novelist Walker Percy. Using this access, Chapman chronicles Foote's life from his birth into a family of Mississippi Delta gentry to his days as the cocksure editor of a lauded high school paper and his failed college career at the University of North Carolina. At the time, Foote considered himself primarily a novelist, and Chapman captures the writer's elation over the success of his first two novels, Shiloh and Follow Me Down. He follows Foote through a period of struggle and then narrates the 20 years during which Foote sequestered himself to write his greatest success, The Civil War: A Narrative. Chapman persuasively points out that although Foote opposed the segregationist policies of George Wallace and others, he preferred to lose himself in the past as he wrote the Civil War trilogy. Given its unrestricted access to the author and his papers, as well as its evenhanded insight, this is bound to become the definitive biography. For all libraries.-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Write a Review
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >