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The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels (original 1974; edition 1987)

by Michael Shaara

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6,263145641 (4.31)327
Title:The Killer Angels
Authors:Michael Shaara
Info:Ballantine Books (1987), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, Civil War, Gettysburg, Lee, Chamberlain, Longstreet

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The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (1974)


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Michael Shaara's Killer Angels, an extremely well-researched work of historical nonfiction, chronicles the decisions and action of the Battle of Gettysburg, perhaps the most pivotal battle in the four-year American Civil War. By switching from third-person omniscient views of the major commanders involved in the battle, the author gives readers deep insight into not just how, but why the battle played out the way it did.
This book does a fantastic job of illustrating some very difficult decisions that, with the luxury of hindsight, seem extremely misguided. Similarly, the book takes advantage of some beautiful, yet simple battle maps to guide readers through the events as they were experienced. These maps are extremely important in putting troop movement and strategic decisions into perspective.
I do have two criticism of the book. The perspectives are not severely limited, as they do bounce from commander to commander. However, I believe the most important decision maker on that battlefield was Daniel Sickles, who, in his deep avarice, bravely disobeyed orders and blunderously won the battle. He is merely a side note, and that does not sit well with me.
Second, while I am not on board with the notion that this book could perpetuate the Lost Cause Narrative, I do see that potential criticism as founded. If this class were to be used in a classroom, that conversation would absolutely need to be present, as well. Of course, it should be present, anyway. ( )
1 vote Igraham1 | May 9, 2017 |
A superb historical novel about Gettysburg - the pivotal battle of the civil war. What makes this novel different is the faithfulness Sharra uses with the character portrayals of the major historical figures of the Gettysburg battle.

While you can take issue with his fawning over Longstreet, or the emphasis of the battle of Little Round Top, or his continual discussion of the causes of the war, Sharra gets everything else so "right" that it's almost like you are there.

Thrilling, exciting, and believable, it's no wonder that the novel won the Pulitzer prize. It's that good. ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
The best thing about The Killer Angels is it re-ignited my latent interest in the Civil War which had burned out in the 1990s, after a few stints as a reenactor. I've been to Gettysburg many times but oddly never really studied the battle in depth. This novel, along with some online resources, helped me to better understand the general course of the battle. It's a fantastic gateway to Gettysburg geekdom. ( )
2 vote Stbalbach | Jan 18, 2017 |
I began reading this book after my visit to Gettysburg and the realization of how little I knew about a part of American history that, growing up in Canada, I've heard so much about. It is a heartbreaking read but also such a beautifully written account of the battle of Gettysburg that I understand why this book has, at times, been mandatory reading for cadets at a number of military academies.

This novel, based on actual letters and diaries, is not only a glimpse into the minds of those engaged in the battle but also a very clear telling of how the battle unfolded. I walk away with a much greater understanding of the complex issues behind the civil war and the people who took part. ( )
  wordbyword | Nov 26, 2016 |
Wonderful novel about the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1863. It’s easy to see why this book has won so many prizes and enjoys the popularity that it does. With lots of maps, and discussions between the participants, it is easy to follow the three day battle. On the Confederate side, we get into the mind of Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet. On the Union side, we get into the minds of General John Buford, and Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. My only disappointment is that we don’t get into the minds of the commanding Union general or anybody on his staff. A ‘must read’ for anybody interested in the Civil War, but will probably be enjoyed by the general reader. ( )
  ramon4 | Nov 23, 2016 |
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This is an account of how the book came to be written...
added by danielx | editNew York times, Paul Leigh (Jun 29, 2013)
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"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."
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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. (marcusbrutus)

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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