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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent civil war novel in it�s own right.
You may be aware or indeed unaware that Jeff Shaara, the author of `Gods and Generals' is the son of the late Michael Shaara who in turn is the author of `The Killer Angels' which is acknowledged as one of the best civil war novels written. `Gods and Generals' is very much a prequel to `Killer Angels', describing the war up until the battle of Gettysburg (the subject...
Published on August 3, 2000 by Simon Jackson

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as good as The Killer Angels
Assuming most readers will come to this book, like I did, after reading The Killer Angels, the Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece by Shaara's late father Michael, they will find an entertaining and well written story, but not a novel which compares to The Killer Angels. Shaara may have taken too much on here, for he is unable to really examine the issues of the Civil...
Published on May 31, 2000 by John M


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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent civil war novel in it�s own right., August 3, 2000
This review is from: Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
You may be aware or indeed unaware that Jeff Shaara, the author of `Gods and Generals' is the son of the late Michael Shaara who in turn is the author of `The Killer Angels' which is acknowledged as one of the best civil war novels written. `Gods and Generals' is very much a prequel to `Killer Angels', describing the war up until the battle of Gettysburg (the subject matter of `Killer Angels').
While `Killer Angels' is indeed a wonderful civil war novel I feel to continuously mention both books in the same sentence does each a dis-service. Jeff and Michael Shaara, although father and son, are different people and consequently different authors. Thus to review `Gods and Generals' from the shadow of `Killer Angels' is not something I wish to do here. Therefore this is a review of `Gods and Generals' as a stand-alone novel.
First time author Michael Shaara has written an excellent account of both the pre-war and early war years. The novel offers an insight into the lives and motivations of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson of the Confederacy and Winfield Scott Hancock and Joshua Chamberlain of the Union. Shaara uses the experiences of these men in a skilful manner to elaborate and expand on the politics and events that occurred during the years 1858 to 1863. In doing so he is able to bring these four into contact with many figures that played a role in the war; Longstreet, Davis, Hooker, Burnside and so on. The result is a believable and comprehensive account that enables the reader to stay closely involved with the decision-makers of the war. Shaara is also able to write convincingly of the internal beliefs and philosophies that motivated individuals to take up arms against their fellow Americans.
At times I would have liked a little more detail regarding the early battles of the war. However, the accounts of Second Manassas and in particular Fredricksburg and Chancellorsville and extremely well written, deep in detail and convincing in action.
Jeff Shaara is a talented writer, not only with regards to battles but also with reference to emotions. I found his account of Jackson's deathbed to be as moving and respectful as his battle scenes were exciting and horrific.
I recommend this book to you and encourage you to read it not as an add on to `The Killer Angels' but as an excellent civil war novel in it's own right.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gods and Generals Brings The Civil War To Life, July 27, 2005
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This review is from: Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
Since there have already been over 210 reviews of this book, I will not go into details of the book itself, but my impressions.

I did not know much about the details of the Civil War before reading this excellent book by Jeff Shaara. Shaara truly brings the details of the war and the people who fought it to vivid life, painting detailed visual pictures with his rich prose. This may be historical "fiction", but Shaara gets into the heads of his characters and gives the reader insights into the Civil War that could never be learned from a textbook. Shaara does this so well, letting the reader know what his main characters are thinking and feeling as they participate in history. Even though the book is 500 pages, it is still an absorbing read that holds one's interest to the very last page. You will not be disappointed in this book. Not only will you learn the details of the Civil War, but you will enjoy every minute doing it!

I am watching Ken Burn's DVD series on the Civil War as I read Shaara's book, and I find it to be a complementary souce to Shaara's "Gods and Generals"; Burn's series providing the framework, and Sharra filling in the personal details.

I look forward to reading the next two books in this series. If they are as good as this one, and I'm sure they will be, I will have many pleasent hours of reading and learning ahead.

If you are interested in the Civil War and want a place to start, I highly recommend "Gods and Generals".

Jim Konedog Koenig
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Read, May 22, 2000
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This review is from: Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
Jeff Shaara does a credible job mining his father's field: the novelization of civil war leaders critical to the Battle of Gettysburg.
His characters are well rounded in this prequal that covers the years before 1863. I particularly enjoyed his treatment of Gen. Hancock. The dialog is believable and his characters never seem out of character to those familiar with the historical accounts of the same men.
It's an interesting book that gets beyond the history of the early Civil War. It lets the reader feel that they are witness to a plausible behind the scenes treatment of men compelled and called upon to do terrible things in support of their vision of America.
I would rate this a notch below "The Killer Angles." That was such a superb book in my mind that the son's book still merits mention as a very enjoyable read.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like Father, Like Son, October 23, 2000
I purchased Jeff Shaara's "Gods and Generals" at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a year before I cracked its spine. When I did, I was on my way to a military operational research symposium in England. I'm sorry I waited so long.
"Gods and Generals" is a slam-bang precursor to his father's "Killer Angels," and I for one am hard-pressed to say which I enjoyed more. True, the father and son have written historical novels -- but what history! What great stories!
For the first time readers are given an impression, a direct feel, for the personal, psychological and behavioral bent of the main characters in this drama of the American Civil War. I only wish that the son had addressed Buford in his work.
I've walked the battlefields of Fredericksburg and the Wilderness. Jeff Shaara brings them to life, and tells a compelling tale of the principle actors on those bloody stages.
The religious fervor Shaara imputes to the commanders, particularly Jackson and Lee, is a commentary on the war fervor of the South in general. How could one fight to dissolve the Union without God on one's side?
If you have read "Killer Angels" then you must read "Gods and Generals." If you have not, then read "Gods and Generals" first, then immediately go to the father's work.
Enjoy.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding prequel to father's Killer Angels!, February 17, 2003
This review is from: Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
My first love is Scottish History, but since I was raised on both sides of the pond, I grew to have a great love for the complexities of the War Between the States in the US. So, it was great pleasure I read this book.
Shaara, in this case Jeff, the son of Michael, had a hard act to follow. His father was the author of Pulitzer Prize Winning Killer Angels (1974). Killer Angels looked at the high watermark of the Confederacy which ended with the battle of Gettysburg. That was the single most important event of the whole War Between the States, in a war that shaped the United States. It gave such insight, such reality into the horror, the glory, the humanity and inhumanity of war, of Generals Lee, Hancock, Pickett and Chamberlain. Shaara's words brought alive the battle and made you feel it all, the anticipation, the frustration, the fear and the anger.
In Gods and Generals, Jeff picks up his father's pen and gives you another masterpiece. Though father and son, both have a different writing voices. Jeff picks up the threads of what happened before Gettysburg, a prequel to his father's award winning novel, giving you insight into the men facing what would be their hardest trial. He again centres on the driven Lee, the bumbling Chamberlain, the dashing Hancock, but we also see Jackson, the man who could march his men 40 miles in a day and then fight a battle, one of the most efficient Generals of the whole war on either side, yet overwhelming a religious man. What interested me most, was his portrait of Lee, his dedication to the Confederacy winning and yet the pain of being torn by his loyalty to the Union army he once served and likely of which he would have been General had he not resigned his commission.
A tour de force for a first time writer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal!, April 16, 2004
This review is from: Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
Gods and Generals is fantastic! I am in love with this book. I am in love with Generals Lee, Jackson, and Hancock. Jeff Shaara made every character a real, human person that the reader comes to know. He made all the events and battles realistic and you feel like you are there with the men, watching from above.
Shaara's writing style is engaging and enveloping; from the very beginning it just sweeps you along. This book even made me cry.
I highly recommend Gods and Generals. I even like it better than The Killer Angels, which is also a wonderful novel. They work really well together.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong History, Not So Strong Fiction, December 12, 2000
This review is from: Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
A recent visit to Civil War sites in Virginia prompted me to begin this first volume of the Shaara Civil War trilogy. I read the middle volume years ago, by Jeff Shaara's father, Michael, shortly after it won the Pulitzer but was frankly skeptical of the ability of Jeff to fill his father's shoes. While I was generally pleased with the book and very glad to have read it, I came away with a few disappointments.
Shaara's historical research and accuracy are outstanding. I was fascinated with the stories of these four generals, Chamberlain and Hancock, Lee and Jackson, and how converging tracks lead them eventually to Gettysburg. But I was somewhat disappointed with a narrative style that resulted in often wooden conversations. Were these individuals really that formal? Were their interactions always so wooden?
Interestingly I found the postcript to be the most fascinating part of the book. I was amazed to learn of the fates of these key players in the years following the Civil War. Many of these men ran for (and sometimes won) public office and the stories of their wives is equally fascinating.
Will I go on to read book number three in the trilogy? Absolutely. There are no perfect books but there are some awfully good stories. This was a good one and it left me wanting more.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well liked by Gods and Generals, June 4, 2000
This review is from: Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
Gods and Generals is a wonderful combination of fact and fiction. That was extremely helpful to me because it provided me with a lot of information about the first half of the Civil War without boring me to death. The setting is in the United States (mostly Virginia but there are a few seens elswhere) from just before the Civil War to the end of the battle of Chancellorsville. This includes such battles as Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, Antietam, and a brief acount of Bull Run. It also gives you the third person prospective of union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, union Lt. Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, confederate General Robert E. Lee, and confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson. The only person who tops Jeff Sharra in writing about the Civil War is his father Michael Sharra in The Killer Angels.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars School Book Review, November 20, 2003
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Hannah (Pawcatuck, CT USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
Jeff Shaara had only one thing that motivated him to write a book: his father. Michael Shaara was an award-winning author who wrote historical novels about events in American history. One of his more famous novels, The Killer Angels, was during the Civil war at the Battle of Gettysburg, and was to have more books written about the war. Michael Shaara passed away before he could do so. His son, Jeff Shaara, took on the challenge, starting iwth teh beginning of the Civil war, in his book entitled, Gods and Generals.
This historical book gives the thoughts, ideas, feelings, experiences and recollections of distinguished generals in the war. It begins prior to the war, where tensions run high between the North and the South. You meet each of the future generals and get into their personal lives. You learn about how sick Lee's wife was and how upset Chamberlain's wife was when he left for war. You follow these characters all the way to the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg before you need to pick up The Killer Angels, the sequel to Gods and Generals. Whoever said history is boring, was wrong!
Gods and Generals was phenomenal! The book was so detailed and well thought out.Descriptions of a battle could last for chapters. Shaara put so much thought and detail into this book that you can't help but call it fabulous. I recommend this book to anyone but more so to people over the age of 13. How mch you like this book will all depend on how much you like history. Gods and Generals had not only been made into a movie, but has also won the ALA award for best military novel.
This book recreates the horrors of war in such a way, that you will be mesmerized. This emotional and powerful piece will move you so much, upon finishing you will instantly pick up the sequel! "Generals, after all, are like Gods. Many men die under their command. They will help shape the fate of this war..."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adventurous yet Educational, May 12, 2003
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"doug89" (Coto de Compton) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) (Mass Market Paperback)
Jeff Shaara was absolutely brilliant in the making of this book. His breathtaking ways of making the reader feel as if one was on the battlefield is spectacular. Personally, I feel that history can be boring at times, but Mr. Shaara makes it a vivid scene. Gods and Generals is a compelling and fascinating history book of the Civil War.
Gods and Generals was sectioned off into chapters of the leading figures of the Civil War, and their views on what was happening. Such as Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, a professor who taught at Maine's Bowdoin College who gave up a promising academic career to enlist in the Union army, then later went on to become one of the North's finest military leaders. Also an important figure for the North was Winfield Scott Hancock, a tremendous leader who was indispensable in any task appointed to him. Serving the South as probably the most essential general for them is General Robert E. Lee, who is forced to choose between allegiance to his country and loyalty to his home state, Virginia. As well as Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, a religious man with past fighting experience in Mexico. Thriving on the heat of battle, Jackson played a significant role in this book and in the Civil War. Although Jeff Shaara talks a lot about the grueling and the pain that went out into the battlefields of the war, he also tells the story of the wives and families who were forced to assume responsibility at home. Resulting in the stunning Battle of Chancellorsville, Gods and Generals was very fascinating and gave me a much better idea on the Civil War.
Gods and Generals kept me wanting to read on and on, it is definitely the most interesting history book I have ever read. Jeff Shaara is a very passionate writer and takes pride in his work. I suggest that if one wants to get a lot of information on the Civil War but still be entertained and over the age of twelve, read Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara.
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Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy)
Gods and Generals: A Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy) by Jeff Shaara (Mass Market Paperback - April 29, 1998)
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