One of the finest literary efforts about the Civil War is out on audiotape.
Shelby Foote's unabridged "Shiloh" (Recorded Books, four cassettes, 51/2 hours, $32) is an exceptional offering with several performers, including Foote, reading the parts of the characters.The virtues of "Shiloh" have been apparent since Foote wrote the book more than 40 years ago. It is precise as to description, accurate as to events, and spare and moving in its prose. It captures the agony of war from the ground-level view of the foot soldier to the grand scope of the generals. It is very likely one of the most profound works about the Civil War - or any war - that you will encounter.
The translation to audiotape is a terrific effort, with superior narrators giving it life. The hours fly by with the engrossing stories of soldiers and scouts on both sides.
A delicious bonus at the end of the work is a 15-minute interview with Foote who talks further of the battle and the personalities. He offers personal notes, one being the time he picked up William Faulkner in Oxford, Miss., and drove him to the nearby battle site.
Recorded Books offers this tape and others for sale or by 30-day mail rental. For a catalog, call (800) 638-1304, or write Recorded Books Inc., 270 Skipjack Road, Prince Frederick, MD 20678.
Jon W. Sparks is arts and entertainment editor at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.