This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels (1974)

by Michael Shaara

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,748157864 (4.31)348

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 348 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
This work in narrative fiction is beautiful, interesting and has a nice variety of perspectives from those fighting for the north and the south American Civil War. It is also excellent audiobook. ( )
  patl | Feb 18, 2019 |
Pride goes before a fall. (“This isn’t the army for it.”)

Great writing.


It’s not just technical stuff about fighting, but very broad; it does social studies.


There’s a very strong traditional/modern thing with Lee and Longstreet.
  smallself | Dec 10, 2018 |
Audiobook refresher. Still as good as I remember it! ( )
  TravbudJ | Sep 15, 2018 |
Fantastic historical fiction read! Wonderful characters and use of historical events. ( )
  cubsfan3410 | Sep 1, 2018 |
The Killer Angels is a historical fiction work about the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War written by Michael Shaara. I read this after reading its prequel, Gods and Generals, written by Shaara's son, Jeff. Like its prequel, the novel tells the story of the battle through the eyes of the men who planned and orchestrated it.

This book is similar in tone to Gods and Generals as it gets right into the town of Gettysburg, through the posturing, confusion and luck on the first day, and staying with the armies throughout the nights in camp as they lick their wounds and plan their next moves.

Whereas Gods and Generals balances itself well between the men of the north and the men of the south, The Killed Angels focuses much more on the south. The reader spends a lot of time in the heads of Longstreet and Lee, giving you a lot of insight into the broader plan, while focusing only on Colonel Chamberlain in the North, with other Union officers making only brief appearances. Due to Chamberlain's lower rank relative to Lee and Longstreet, the insight into the strategic vision of the north is limited.

While the basic approach of the book is similar to the one taken by Shaara's son in his prequel, there is a significant difference to the flavor of the prose itself. While Gods and Generals covers the generals in a relatively personal manner, it seems cold and clinical compared to the way the elder Shaara handles the men he peers into in The Killer Angels.

The thoughts and descriptions are broken, scattered and rapid-fire, much like the way they actually come in battle. Rare is the neat examination of one's thoughts on a topic or a thick, flowery description of the scenery. Rather, the sensory detail is blunt and in your face and the thoughts jump around as they do in real life. Imagine yourself on the field of battle, mind wandering during a lull, but still hearing cannon fire in the distance, or seeing men milling about nearby...your thoughts are likely to bounce as you react to the stimuli around you. And that is exactly how they are handled in this book. It doesn't jar the reader, however. Rather it slides the reader more smoothly into the battle. You're standing there with the officers, reacting and thinking as they do. It's a very compelling approach.

The Killer Angels shines particularly bright during the many moments the reader spends with Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Chamberlain, being relatively new to the business of war, is still processing many experience for the first time. The reader can relate to him in that regard. He switches between introspective thought and raw instinct and he always seems to reflect on his actions as an young academic would likely do.

Interestingly, my thought as I was reading this was that the author had to have some military experience, and I was correct. He was a soldier in the US Army, and after that a college professor. So it makes sense that the stories of Chamberlain are particularly good, since the soldier-turned-scholar author probably related well to the scholar-turned-soldier Colonel.

The other great surprise for me was the newfound appreciation I developed for Longstreet as a man and as a leader.

This book is a great read for any fan of history, military history or historical fiction. I do recommend reading Gods and Generals first, since it sets up the characters nicely. I recommend it, though I do not feel like it is necessary.

Also of note, whereas I think someone who did not have some background on the American Civil War might struggle a bit with Gods and Generals, I do not think that is true with The Killer Angels. The book is self-contained in just the battle of Gettysburg, and I think that the little primer the author gives at the start is probably enough for someone to understand and enjoy the book, but I strongly believe that my experience was much richer for having a background on the war and for having read Gods and Generals first.

I highly recommend this book. ( )
  McCarthys | Aug 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
This is an account of how the book came to be written...
added by danielx | editNew York times, Paul Leigh (Jun 29, 2013)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
"When men take up arms to set other men free, there is something sacred and holy in the warfare."

- Woodrow Wilson
"I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."

- E. M. Forster
"With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army. . . ."

- from a letter of Robert E. Lee
Mr. Mason: How do you justify your acts?
John Brown: I think, my friend, you are guilty of a great wrong against God and humanity---I say it without wishing to be offensive---and it would be perfectly right for anyone to interfere with you so far as to free those you willfully and wickedly hold in bondage. I do not say this insultingly.
Mr. Mason: I understand that.

- from an interview with John Brown after his capture
Mine eyes have seen the glory . . .
To Lila (old George)
. . . in whom I am well pleased
First words

He rode into the dark of the woods and dismounted.
...Chamberlain remembered it still: "What a piece of work is man...in action how like an angel!" And the old man, grinning, had scratched his head an then said stiffly, "Well, boy, if he's an angel, he's sure a murderin' angel."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
The book tells the story of four days of the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War: June 30, 1863, as the troops of both the Union and the Confederacy move into battle around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and July 1, July 2, and July 3, when the battle was fought. The story is character driven and told from the perspective of various protagonists.

AR 4.7, 15 Pts
Haiku summary
In the Civil War
the battle of Gettysburg
is where many die.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345348109, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:24 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought for two dreams-- freedom, and a way of life. Memories, promises, and love were carried into the battle but what fell was shattered futures, forgotten innocence, and crippled beauty.

» see all 16 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (4.31)
0.5 1
1 12
1.5 2
2 26
2.5 5
3 159
3.5 49
4 542
4.5 107
5 737

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 132,572,251 books! | Top bar: Always visible