The Killer Angels - Civil War, Bk 2 Author:Michael Shaara In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation's history, two armies fought for two dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Shattered futu... more »res, forgotten innocence, and crippled beauty were also the casualties of war.
The Killer Angels is unique, sweeping, unforgettable -- a dramatic re-creation of the battleground for America's destiny. « less
One of the best books ever about the Civil War. It's historical fiction but the battle info is pretty much fact. It is about the Battle of Gettysburg as seen from the point of Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and other leaders there at the battle. Ken Burns said this book "changed his life" and after reading this, he did his "Civil War" production.
This novel reveals more about the Battle of Gettysburg than any piece of learned nonfiction on the same subject. Michael Shaara's account of the three most important days of the Civil War features deft characterizations of all of the main actors, including Lee, Longstreet, Pickett, Buford, and Hancock. The most inspiring figure in the book, however, is Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, whose 20th Maine regiment of volunteers held the Union's left flank on the second day of the battle. This unit's bravery at Little Round Top helped turned the tide of the war against the rebels. There are also plenty of maps, which convey a complete sense of what happened July 1-3, 1863. Reading about the past is rarely so much fun as on these pages.
I thought it was a tad hard to follow all the characters -- unless you're a Civil War buff or paid better attention in History class than I did -- but this is a compelling story of the battle at Gettysburg as viewed from both sides. The dialogue follows what is historically known about these "players" without making it sound too "made up."
The books does not deal with the gruesome details of the battlefield, but depicts insight into the soldiers' feelings, the respect they had for their leaders, and the courage they faced in following those leaders' commands beyond all.
This is an exceptional book - even though I'm not "into" the Civil War, I found this to be very, very interesting. It explores the decisions and personalities on both sides of the Battle of Gettysburg, as well as the lay of the land, and helps you understand what went on throughout the planning and duration of the battle and why it was so devastating to all. You might think a novel based on one battle would be rather dry - not true, it is very readable. I recommend it!
I had been a huge fan of the movie Gettysburg since I first saw it in a college dorm room in the mid-1990s. However, I had never heard of The Killer Angels or Michael Shaara. After watching the movie on DVD 10 years later, I finally realized the screenplay for Gettysburg was based on that book when I was reading the small print on the screen. I then went out and bought a copy.
The Killer Angels is a superior fictional novel on the battle of the Gettysburg during the American Civil War. The book covers the span from the initial days leading up to the battle to just after Picketts charge at the end of the battle. Shaara tells the story of the battle through the eyes of the major figures of the battle, General Longstreet and General Lee of the Confederate Army, Colonel Chamberlain of the US Army, and a handful of other people, so the story is mostly told in first person from multiple points of view. This offers a very unique perspective of the battle.
The writing in the novel is absolutely first rate. The writing abilities of Mr. Shaara make you feel like you are in the middle of the battle. You can almost smell the sulphury smoke of the cannon fire, feel the heat of the hot July day, hear the bullets whizzing overhead, and feel the anguish of the people on both sides to think they are fighting a hopeless battle. The attention to detail in the character dialogues really make the reader feel like the are listening to the people 2 feet away. The writing in this book is poetically beautiful.
There are only two negatives I can think of about the book. First, I thought that some of the chapters seemed to be a little long. Not terribly excessive, but a bit long with no good place to stop. Second, while I wound not call it a strong negative, the book is almost word for word exactly the same as the movie Gettysburg. If you have seen the movie, you have pretty much read the book.
Personally, I think this book should be mandatory reading at the high school level. Just like the movie Gettysburg, the book really shows the intricacies of war from the perspective of the people who fought it. There really is not a lot of focus on the blood and guts portion of the battle. If you are interested in book on war or the military, or if you are interested in a good action book, this is a must read. Overall, one of the best books I have read.
The book's novel idea of telling the story of the Battle of Gettysburg by focusing on five key participants--General John Buford and Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain for the Union, along with Generals Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet and Lewis Armistead for the Confederates--was not a new idea to me. Through the eyes of these five men the crucial points of the battle--preventing the Confederates from taking the high ground on July 1, stopping Hood's division from sweeping the Federal left flank on Little Round Top on July 2, and the high water mark of the Confederacy with Pickett's Charge on July 3--are crystallized as desperate actions agonized over by the leaders who have to make the crucial decisions. Even though these five men are battlefield commanders, they still manage to personalize the battle in which more Americans were killed than were lost in the entire Vietnam War.
Historical novel at its finest. Along with other battlefield histories, this book put the flesh on the bones of history for our visit to Gettysburg on the 150th anniversary commemoration week. Fantastic read!
Engrossing novel relating the circumstances of the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of the officers that took part in the battle including Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and Lawrence Chamberlain. This really took you into the battle at a first-hand experience level and gives perspectives on how the battle was won by the North and lost by the South. I read this book partly because it was recently the 150th anniversary of the battle. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the Civil War or American History.
A Pulitzer Prize winner and rather recent contribution to the literature of the Civil War, this is both fact neatly entwined with fiction. Today it is still a classic recount of the Battle of Gettysburg told from both sides of the battle. As such it ranks among such classics as Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, Churchill's The Crisis, and the non-fiction of Bruce Catton. It is a striking contrast of the two combatant armies.