Wednesday, June 29, 2005Shelby Foote died yesterday.
Russell Moore has a thoughtful remembrance of Foote and his friendship with the novelist Walker Percy. I've always loved Foote's writing and his analysis of the Civil War. My favorite memory of him was watching Ken Burns' Civil War documentary in high school, and noting the way Foote pronoucned Missouri as "Missourah." I know lots of Southerners speak in that accent, but I always got a kick out of hearing Foote say it.
The thing that was admirable about Foote was his ability to walk such a tight rope between never excusing slavery, Jim Crow or the horrid Ku Klux Klan but at the same time acknowledging the honor and bravery of many in the Confederacy. It's a delicate balance, I know, but Foote managed it well. I find this ability to be respectable, and hope that I could manage a similar nuance in my own pursuits.
But think about what a life Foote had! With the possible exception of James McPherson, he is the foremost scholar on the Civil War in all of American history. He knew Faulkner and O'Connor. Walker Percy was his best friend. He lived a fascinating life. I hope the South can still produce such thoughtful and poignant thinkers.