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Customer Review

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, December 17, 1999
This review is from: The Killer Angels (Hardcover)
Though so many have written before me in praise of this splendid novel that my words must be redundant, I am still impelled to hit the keyboard as an act of homage. The writer's achievement must be almost unique in that he unites an accurate, hour by hour, depiction of an actual military event with a novelist's treatment of character and motivation. Other than the Borodino section of "War and Peace" it is difficult to think of any similar achievement. The depiction of the individual characters has an uncanny immediacy and realism, and it is character that dominates the action rather than vice versa. Two set pieces dominate the novel - Chamberlain's defence of Little Round Top on the second day of Gettysburg, and Pickett's Charge on the third. The description of the latter fearsome but heroic blunder, as seen through the eyes of the noble and doomed Lewis Armistead, is so powerful, terrible and yet beautiful that this reader at least was too moved to read on immediately. Though concentrated on the three days of the battle, the ultimate themes are not war and generalship, but rather of honour, courage, integrity and love. These themes are seldom treated with such seriousness and dignity in modern popular culture, and we are the worse for it. One comes to the end of the book with a feeling of catharsis, conscious that despite all that may be thrown against us, and regardless of how often we may stumble on the way, mankind is capable of greatness. A wonderful book.
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