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The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War Hardcover – November 2, 2004
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From Library Journal
Michael T. Fein, Catawba Valley Community Coll., Hickory, N.C.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You already know how it ends. Get it anyway and enjoy a very very readable book. If you have the movie "Gettyburg" made about 20 years ago you will know this book. Read morePublished 1 day ago by R. Stephenson
Hands down the best historical fiction of the Battle of Gettysburg. It's as if Shaara was there, evesdropping over the shoulders of the great figures during those three horrific... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Gary McCary
Killer Angels was a great read with the true facts of history combined with the drama and excitement of a novel. I can't wait to read the 3rd novel in the series.Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Entertaining - very well written - definitive book of Gettysburg - enjoyed the verbal discussions between the men. Loved it!!!!!Published 4 days ago by Deanna King
Powerful, written with a taut urgency, never a word wasted. A great, great book.Published 4 days ago by Chris Warner
This book is a classic on the Civil war battle at Gettysburg. in my opinion the best I have ever read on the topic. A must read if you have an interest in the Civil War. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Joe Brown
It is making me extremely sad. Having been raised in the South, it is understandable that the Southern slaveowners could see the end of their way of life and resented the... Read morePublished 7 days ago by bob adams