Top 100

Top 70 Shelby Foote Quotes (2023 Update)

Shelby Foote Quote: “A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “A rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight...”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I abhor the idea of a perfect world. It would bore me to tears.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “North was only a direction indicated by a compass – if a man had one, that is, for otherwise there was no north or south or east or west; there was only the brooding desolation.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I think making mistakes and discovering them for yourself is of great value, but to have someone else to point out your mistakes is a shortcut of the process.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “A fact is not a truth until you love it.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I’ve never known, at least a modern historical instance, where the truth wasn’t superior to distortion in every way.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “If you want to study writing, read Dickens.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “They burnt crosses every night all around us, and a man who’ll burn what he prays to, he’ll burn anything.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Now I lay me down to sleep In mud that’s many fathoms deep. If I’m not here when you awake Just hunt me up with an oyster rake.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “People make a grievous error thinking that a list of facts is the truth. Facts are just the bare bones out of which truth is made.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “As a Southerner I would have to say that one of the main importances of the War is that Southerners have a sense of defeat which none of the rest of the country has.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “And I’m a slow writer: five, six hundred words is a good day. That’s the reason it took me 20 years to write those million and a half words of the Civil War.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “For my part I consider the central idea pervading this struggle is the necessity that is upon us of proving that popular government is not an absurdity. We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose. If we fail it will go far to prove the incapacity of the people to govern themselves.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Fortuity itself, as the deadly game unfolded move by move, appeared to conform to a pattern of hard luck; so much so, indeed, that in time men would say of Lee, as Jael had said of Sisera after she drove the tent peg into his temple, that the stars in their courses had fought against him.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Of all the passions of mankind, the love of novelty most rules the mind. In search of this, from realm to realm we roam. Our fleets come loaded with every folly home.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I prize the Depression, for instance, because I learned the value of things in the Depression that a way people who don’t have to worry about such things never learned to prize it really, I believe.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “My second book, Follow Me Down had some success, got good critical notices, went into a second printing and things like that, but Shiloh was by far the most successful of those first five novels.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you’re doing the whole time.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Getting close to books, and spending time by myself, I was obliged to think about things I would never have thought about if I was busy romping around with a brother and sister.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “A combination of all that was best in the gladdest days of the departing year...”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Longevity conquers scandal every time.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “And I really do think that the difficulty of research makes it more real to you than punching a thing to find out how many men were killed at this particular action.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “It wasn’t a question of luck, the way some folks will tell you; they will tell you it’s back luck to be near the wounded. It was just that we didn’t want to be close to them any longer than it took to run past, the way you wouldn’t want to be near someone who had something catching, like smallpox.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “They will tell you Shiloh was no cavalry battle; the field was too cut-up with ravines and choked with timber for the usual mounted work. However, none of Forrest’s men realized this at the time and we had our moments.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Generally the first week in September brings the hottest weather of the year, and this was no exception. Overhead the fans turned slow, their paddle blades stirring the air up close to the ceiling but nowheres else...”
Shelby Foote Quote: “When you grow up in a totally segregated society, where everybody around you believes that segregation is proper, you have a hard time. You can’t believe how much it’s a part of your thinking.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Not married until 33, Abraham Lincoln said, “A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that cannot hurt me.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I have often inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was that kept this confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the mother land, but that something in the Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this land, but hope to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “When protests reached Lincoln he turned them aside with a medical analogy, pointing out that a limb must sometimes he amputated to save a life but that a life must never be given to save a limb; he felt, he said, “that measures, however unconstitutional, might become lawful by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution, through the preservation of the nation.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I could see their faces then, and the army became what it really was: forty thousand men – they were young men mostly, lots of them even younger than myself, and I was nineteen just two weeks before – out on their first march in the crazy weather of early April, going from Mississippi into Tennessee where the Union army was camped between two creeks with its back to a river, inviting destruction.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “When General Johnston had heard them out, he drew himself up in the saddle, leather creaking, and said quietly: “Gentlemen, we shall attack at daylight tomorrow.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “You easy-living boys had better get set, they said. There’s johnnies out there thicker than fleas on a billy goat in a barnlot.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Grant was something rare in that or any war. He could learn from experience.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I’ve never shown anybody a draft of anything.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “When you’re working very hard you’re not lonely; you are the whole damn world.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I took five years on the first volume, five years on the second volume, and ten years on the third volume.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I began the way nearly everybody I ever heard of – I began writing poetry. And I find that to be quite usual with writers, their trying their hand at poetry.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “That was when General Johnston rode up. He came right past where I was standing, a fine big man on a bay stallion. He had on a broad-brim hat and a cape and thigh boots with gold spurs that twinkled like sparks of fire. I watched him ride by, his mustache flaring out from his mouth and his eyes set deep under his forehead. He was certainly the handsomest man I ever saw, bar none; he made the other officers on his staff look small.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I think that everything you do helps you to write if you’re a writer. Adversity and success both contribute largely to making you what you are. If you don’t experience either one of those, you’re being deprived of something.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “They nodded their heads with quick flicky motions, like birds, and nursed their rifles, keeping them out of the dirt. I had gotten to know them all in a month and a few of them were even from the same end of the county I was, but now it was like I was seeing them for the first time, different. All the put-on had gone out of their faces – they were left with what God gave them at the beginning.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “She’d rouse me out of bed all hours of the night and I’d wait in the hall. They were mostly soldiers and sailors and merchant mariners, or businessmen down on convention. This is one lousy life, Mamma said, but I’m doing the best I can with what Ive got. I wish I could afford to send you to some kind of business school so you could learn to type. – She never did but I never blamed her. For one thing, she only turned the nicest ones over to me, the businessmen.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Isn’t it odd, the attractiveness of type and paper and ink, bodying thoughts and descriptions? Isn’t it odd how much the sight can teach us about writing? Commas really look like commas in print.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “But they were all thinking the selfsame thing: I might be a disgrace to my country. I might be a coward, even. But I’m not up there in those woods getting shot at.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “This was mainly a brown country, cluttered with dead leaves from the year before, but the oaks had tasseled and the redbud limbs were like flames in the wind. Fruit trees in cabin yards, peach and pear and occasional quince, were sheathed with bloom, white and pink, twinkling against broken fields and random cuts of new grass washed clean by the rain.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “I don’t want anything to do with anything mechanical between me and the paper, including a typewriter, and I don’t even want a fountain pen between me and the paper.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “He could do little. Brandy might help, he thought, but when he poured some into the hurt man’s mouth it ran back out again. Presently a colonel, Johnston’s chief of staff, came hurrying into the ravine. But he could do nothing either. He knelt down facing the general. “Johnston, do you know me? Johnston, do you know me?” he kept asking, over and over, nudging the general’s shoulder as he spoke. But Johnston did not know him. Johnston was dead.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “Aboard a Chesapeake Bay steamer, not long after his surrender, the general heard a fellow passenger insisting that the South had been “conquered but not subdued.” Asked in what command he had served, the bellicose young man – one of those stalwarts later classified as “invisible in war and invincible in peace” – replied that, unfortunately, circumstances had made it impossible for him to be in the army. “Well, sir, I was,” Johnston told him. “You may not be subdued, but I am.”
Shelby Foote Quote: “They were Amy and Jeff Carruthers and they rode south out of Bristol, gravel chattering under the upswept fenders. After a while the man said suddenly, “Whats it like?” Amy glanced out at the fields. “Cotton. Everywhere nothing but cotton.”
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