In 1954, Shelby Foote launched a twenty-year project in which he hand wrote (with a quill-tip dip pen) the 1.5 million-word, 2,934-page history The Civil War: A Narrative.
Although Foote had previously written six novels, including the one from which "Pillar of Fire" is excerpted, it was his epic history of the Civil War that made him famous. In 1990, acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns featured Foote's insightful and eloquent commentary in Burn's eleven-hour-long PBS series, The Civil War.
Foote appeared eighty-nine times in Burn's The Civil War, dissecting the nation's most complex story for an audience of fourteen million people over five nights. Foote became a reluctant celebrity, granting non-stop interviews from his home in Memphis, Tennessee for several months following the show's success. Eventually, he grew weary of the fame and resumed his reclusive lifestyle with his wife, Gwyn.
In the course of his long career Foote received three Guggenheim fellowships, a Ford Foundation grant, and a National Book Award.
*Author Photo courtesy of Nell Dickerson Archive
His Books From BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books: