I've watched Ken Burns The Civil War many times (both on my own and for class) and after every viewing I wanted to get out there and read Shelby Foote's three volume The Civil War: A Narrative. Unfortunately the closest I ever got was flipping through the books in a Barnes and Noble and then going off to buy something like Cryptonomican.
Despite "the lost cause" angle to Foote's vision, the celebrity he gained from that documentary in the face of the many stars who lent their voices always suggested to me that his gift was to put the romantic notions of Americans into words. The line that still resonantes with me is (and I'm paraphrasing):
"Before the war the United States was an 'are.' After the war, the United States became an 'is.'"
I think I'm going to go to amazon and buy his books now.