Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. (November 17, 1916 – June 27, 2005) was an American historian and novelist who wrote The Civil War: A Narrative, a massive, three-volume history of the war. With geographic and cultural roots in the Mississippi Delta, Foote's life and writing paralleled the radical shift from the agrarian planter system of the Old South to the Civil Rights era of the New South. Foote was relatively unknown to the general public for most of his life until his appearance in Ken Burns's PBS documentary The Civil War in 1990, where he introduced a generation of Americans to a war that he believed was "central to all our lives". Foote did all his writing by hand with an old-fashioned nib pen, disdaining the typewriter.Title: Shelby Foote & Walker Percy: Correspondence, Civil War, Quotes, Biography (1997). Source: Way Back. Date Published: July 1, 2015.
When Burns’s documentary aired in September 1990, Foote appeared in almost 90 segments, about one hour of the 11-hour series. Foote’s drawl, erudition, and quirk of speaking as if the war were still going on made him a favorite. He was described as "the toast of Public TV", "the media's newest darling", and "prime time's newest star", and the result was a burst of book sales. In one week at the end of September 1990, each volume of the paperback The Civil War: A Narrative sold 1,000 copies per day. By the middle of 1991, Random House had sold 400,000 copies of the trilogy. Foote later told Burns, "Ken, you've made me a millionaire."