If ever there were an occasion in our day for playing the Ashokan Farewell, it would be the funeral of Shelby Foote. The haunting melodic theme of the PBS series “The Civil War” and its most well-recognized face and voice – brought together one last time.
Before Foote achieved national face recognition on the PBS series for his colorful recounting of wartime tales, he was a successful novelist and author of the grand, daunting trilogy “Civil War: A Narrative” (the three volumes in paperback weigh more than 9 pounds combined) – ranked 15th on Modern Library’s Top 100 list of 20th century nonfiction English-language works. I count myself as one of the few who made it through the 2,800+ pages of rich and detailed military history. The fraternity of those of us who have made it through and are under the age of 30 must be very small, indeed. But what a hallmark of dedicated research and writing, a sign of a passion for telling the story behind the subject matter.
The Washington Times reports today that Mr. Foote died Monday night in Memphis, Tenn. He was 88 years old.
Time to bring out the fiddle and guitar for a sentimental replaying of a famous haunting melody.