June 29, 2005
Historian, Novelist Shelby Foote Dies at 88
Nick Owchar in the Los Angeles Times:
Southern novelist and historian Shelby Foote, who chronicled Mississippi Delta life in his fiction and created a panoramic history of the Civil War, died Monday in Memphis, his wife, Gwyn, said Tuesday. He was 88.
Best known for the courtly eloquence he brought as commentator to Ken Burns' 1990 PBS documentary, "The Civil War," Foote belonged to a rich tradition of Mississippi storytellers that included William Faulkner, Walker Percy and Eudora Welty.
It was his appearance in Burns' film, enthralling its 40 million viewers with his battlefield's-eye-view of the war, that first gained this singular American storyteller the recognition of a wide audience.
"One of the reasons why that documentary worked itself into the bloodstream of this country is because of Shelby," Burns said.
Slight of build, his gray beard trimmed close to the jaw, Foote vividly evoked the horrors of 19th century warfare, such as the hail of bullets that cut men down at Shiloh, as well as war's smaller moments — days when rations ran so low that soldiers ate sloosh, a wretched mixture of cornmeal and bacon grease. And he did it with a charming mellow voice tone that seemed dipped in Delta mud.
More here. [Thanks to Winfield J. Abbe.]
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