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The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War (The Civil War: 1861-1865 Book 2) by [Shaara, Michael]
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The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War (The Civil War: 1861-1865 Book 2) Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,592 customer reviews

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Length: 368 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

From Library Journal

The late Shaara's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (1974) concerns the battle of Gettysburg and was the basis for the 1993 film Gettysburg. The events immediately before and during the battle are seen through the eyes of Confederate Generals Lee, Longstreet, and Armistead and Federal General Buford, Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain, and a host of others. The author's ability to convey the thoughts of men in war as well as their confusion-the so-called "fog of battle"-is outstanding. This unabridged version is read clearly by award-winning actor George Hearn, who gives each character a different voice and effectively conveys their personalities; chapters and beginnings and ends of sides are announced. Music from the movie version adds to the drama. All this comes in a beautiful package with a battle map. Recommended for public libraries not owning previous editions from Recorded Books and Blackstone Audio (Audio Reviews, LJ 2/1/92 and LJ 2/1/93, respectively).
Michael T. Fein, Catawba Valley Community Coll., Hickory, N.C.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 7670 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (June 9, 2010)
  • Publication Date: June 9, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003O86Q8U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,054 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
At least that was true until I read Michael Shaara's "Killer Angels." Now I'm a goner. I have bought five more books on the Civil War including McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom," a huge tome that promises to fill me in on the whole historical context, time, place, politics, all of it. All this happened because I was interested in a single book. This is Michael Shaara's fault.
It is of no consequence that the prospective reader may not have the slightest interest in war, the Civil War in particular, guns, Gettysburg, generals, muskets, artillery, smoke, fire, or death. All the reader need be interested in is a good book that is a pleasure, an enlightening experience, to read. If you like reading, if you enjoy books that captivate, that keep you turning pages, that won't let you sleep, then buy this book.
Let me note here that the author indulges in several literary devices that might pain the true Civil War buff. He uses interior monologues which are, of course, pure fiction (though based on written material of the time). He also centers his story on two major fights that took place at Gettysburg: the battle of Little Roundtop, and Pickett's Charge, even though quite a lot of other great moments occurred there. Both these battles are told well, and the characters of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain - the commander of the 20th Maine who held Little Round Top against attacking Confederates to the "last bullet," and James Longstreet, commander of the I Corps of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia who had serious differences with his superior over the tactics used at Gettysburg, are explored at depth.
By necessity, Shaara could not tell, in a single novel (for that is what this book is), all that happened those three fateful days.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This fine example of what historical fiction should be, which I first picked up to read as an eighth grader, was the gateway into my now militant obsession with the Civil War and my idolization of Gen. Joshua Chamberlain. The well-deserved rave reviews that litter the front and back covers drew me to it, but Shaara's powerful writing style and stunningly human characters drew me INTO it. Not surprisingly I worship the film Gettysburg and have accumulated a large collection of Civil War and Chamberlain-related literature, though some have suggested this is slightly abnormal for a fifteen year old. While reading The Killer Angels one must wonder at Shaara's amazing ability to portray the major players of the battle, whose real personalities must have since been lost over a century of historian analyzation, as real people. I absolutely love this book and jealously guard my much-used copy. To enjoy it you don't have to be a Civil War buff or even know anything about the battle, you only have to be prepared to appreciate what is epic and human in the midst of this otherwise horrifying war.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most times, I would much prefer to read a work of nonfiction as opposed to historical fiction. But after reading dozens of books about the Battle of Gettysburg, it was refreshing to read Michael Shaara's Pulitzer Prize-winning Killer Angels. This fictional account gives us a viewpoint not to be found in nonfiction works.

What makes Killer Angels different is that each chapter is written through the eyes of the various leaders from both the Union and the Confederacy including Buford, Longstreet, Lee, Chamberlain, Armistead, as well as an English observer, Fremantle. Shaara used diaries, journals, letters and memoirs to recreate not only what was happening on the battlefield, but also, what these men were thinking, seeing and feeling. It's as if you're an eyewitness to history. Killer Angels does not attempt to cover every minute of the Battle of Gettysburg. In fact, Shaara focuses on four main aspects: Buford's establishing Union lines on good ground before the battle, Longstreet's ambivalence about fighting at Gettysburg, Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine defending Little Round Top and Pickett's Charge.

I found myself especially haunted by James Longstreet. Once a carefree, amiable man, he's still reeling from the recent deaths of 3 of his 4 children in one week. Robert E. Lee's number two man, he knows that a frontal attack (Pickett's charge) will be disastrous. He is tortured that Lee won't listen to his advice, and inconsolable after so many men are killed. "Along with all the horror of loss, and the weariness, and all the sick helpless rage, there was coming now a monstrous disgust. He was through. They had all died for nothing and he sent them...The army would not recover from this day."

I also gained an appreciation for Joshua Chamberlain.
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Format: Hardcover
I am one of those people who first read Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels" after seeing the film "Gettysburg." Consequently 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.

Shaara's son Jeff has published a Civil War prequel and sequel to his father's book, but those volumes cover more than a single battle and the focus on a limited number of characters does not work as well. Still, I appreciate that the rest of Chamberlain's story is developed, since it is the college professor from Maine who emerges from both "The Killer Angels" and the Ken Burns PBS documentary on "The Civil War" as the idealized citizen-soldier of the war. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of both this novel and its film, are that they make the defense of Little Round Top by the 20th Maine the high point of the Battle of Gettysburg rather than Pickett's Charge, and that it is the name of Armistead rather than Pickett that we will not forget from that most famous charge.
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