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Michael Shaara Ï The Killer Angels book

eBook ä The Killer Angels Ü Mass Market Paperback ✓ moneyexpresscard ´ In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation's history two armies fought for two dreams One dreamed of freedom the other of a way of life Far than rifles and bullets were carried into battle There were meBullets were carried into battle There were memories There were promises There was love And far than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields Shattered futures forgotten inno This month marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg which we all know is the fight that took place when Abraham Lincoln wanted to make a speech at that address and then one of the neighbors got mad and challenged him Or something like thatAh but seriously folks Gettysburg was the turning point of the American Civil War in which the Union forces defeated Robert E Lee’s invading Confederate troops but this isn’t a non fiction book about the battle Instead it’s a historical fiction in which author Michael Shaara used research and literary license to put us into the minds of several key figures so that readers experience the fight through their eyesFor this re read I listened to the audible version and it featured an interesting introduction from Shaara’s son Jeff Who has followed his late father’s formula to write several other books about American history The younger Shaara tells of how his father’s book was rejected over a dozen times was a commercial flop but won a Pulitzer Prize only to see no increase in its profile following the award Michael died in 1988 thinking that the book would not be remembered In an twist of fate the movie adaptation Gettysburg that came out five years later would put the book on the best seller list almost twenty years after it was originally publishedOn the Confederate side an ailing and weary Robert E Lee has pinned his hopes to end the war on the idea of attacking and destroying the Union army on it’s own ground but his top general James Longstreet was against the invasion since he believes the South’s military success has come from a defensive style of warfare As they advance into Pennsylvania they’ve been left with a dangerous lack of information about Union movements because cavalry officer JEB Stuart has been failing to provide them with reports from his scouting missionBoth sides begin to converge on the small town of Gettysburg which has a valuable crossroads nearby but Union cavalry officer John Buford is there first and immediately realizes that the hills and slopes outside of the town will give a huge advantage to the army that holds them With the Confederate forces closing in fast Buford occupies and tries to hold the good ground while urging the Union army to rush in and reinforce him As troops pour into the area from both sides they find themselves fighting in a battle no one had counted on The Union troops manage to occupy the better positions as Longstreet desperately tries to convince Lee that attacking would be a major mistake but Lee believes that his army can destroy the Union forces once and for allThis book and the subseuent film version would do a lot to make people reevaluate Longstreet’s reputation He’d been scapegoated by other Confederate officers after the war for the defeat at Gettysburg but Shaara’s version of events based on letters and diaries of those involved makes a convincing argument that it was Lee whose stubborn refusal to disengage and pick a better spot for a fight was the main culprit for the Confederate failureShaara also credits the forgotten Buford with being a major reason as to why the Union was able to seize the high ground He also tells the story of another officer forgotten by mainstream American history as one of the true heroes of the battle Joshua Chamberlain was a professor at Maine’s Bowdoin College when the war broke out but he showed a knack for military command that eventually put him in charge of a regiment at the end of the Union line on a hill called Little Round Top As the extreme left position of the Union forces Chamberlain and his men had to hold back repeated efforts to flank them by Longstreet’s troops and then they found themselves in the thick of the fighting again on the last day during Pickett’s ChargeChamberlain would win the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Gettysburg and he would continue to serve with distinction for the rest of the war Eventually promoted to the rank of brigadier general Ulysses Grant chose Chamberlain to command the Union troops at the surrender ceremony After the war he would win multiple terms as Maine’s governor as well as eventually becoming president of his old college Feeling like a slacker yet? The book and a great performance by Jeff Daniels in the movie version would make Chamberlain remembered once againThe prose gets a bit flowery at times but Shaara’s preface notes that he actually toned down the verbose style of the time There’s also a bit too much repetition on a couple of points like Chamberlain’s horror at himself that he ordered his brother to fill a gap in the line during the fight on Little Round Top without a second thought or Confederate General Armistead’s constant references to his friend Win Hancock as he frets that he’ll have to face his buddy on the battle fieldThose are minor gripes about a book that found a new and fresh way to tell a story that every American school kid has heard Shaara also does a nice job of pointing out the inherent hypocrisy of the Confederates who claim to be fighting for their rights while not mentioning that what they want is the freedom to keep owning slaves That point gets overlooked a lot when the South gets romanticized in mainstream works of fiction and it’s refreshing that Shaara called bullshit on itRandom trivia Joss Whedon’s television show Firefly was partially inspired by his reading of this bookAlso posted at Shelf Inflicted

text ☆ The Killer Angels Ï Michael Shaara

In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation's history two armies fought for two dreams One dreamed of freedom the other of a way of life Far than rifles and Michael Shaara's passion gave life to something uniue and singularly extraordinary in this Pullitzer Prize winning novel With high charged emotive prose lush descriptions and fully fleshed characters he transforms the The Battle of Gettysburg the bloodiest engagement of the Civil War into a gorgeously rendered and deeply personal story populated by flawed ordinary men caught in an extraordinary concatenation of circumstances by the machinations of Fate Shaara’s reduction of this momentous event into a tapestry woven of a myriad of individual observations and subjective accounts so seamlessly alternates between heart swelling and heart wrenchingthat your own blood pumper may need an overhaul by the time your finished Shaara’s approach for this story was so revolutionary at the time that he couldn’t even find a publisher willing to distribute his novel Recounting the period of June 30 July 3 1863 the day before and the 3 days of the Battle of Gettysburg Shaara’s narrative filters the events surrounding the battle through the subjective lens of the leaders of the two armies Today his approach has been mimicked so often by those inspired by his achievement that it’s likely to feel familiar to those reading it for the first time see reference to Ken Burn’s Civil War below However back in 1975 it was fresh and daring and uniue Shaara jumps back and forth between dozens of viewpoints each serving an important function and providing a uniue perspective on the events surrounding the conflict The most notable players in Shaara’s epic play are For the South Commanding General Robert E Lee General George Pickett General James Longstreet and British Col Arthur Freemantle; and For the North Commanding General George Meade General John Buford andCol Josh Chamberlain Through these soldiers and many others Shaara emphasizes the motivations decisions and actions of these men and how each of their uniue and very human perspectives along with the ever present “fog of war” resulted in the final outcome at Gettysburg Not being a Civil War buff there was one part early in the story that I found fascinating to read According to Shaara and many historians I have come to find but for one ambiguous order on the part of General Lee to his conservative cream puff of a subordinate General Richard Ewell the South may very well have won the Battle of Gettysburg and drastically changed the outcome of the Civil War Here is the order by General Lee as recounted by Shaara Tell General Ewell the Federal troops are retreating in confusion It is only necessary to push those people to get possession of those heights Of course I do not know his situation and I do not want him to engage a superior force but I do want him to take that hill if he thinks practicable Emphasis added Four simple words “if he thinks practicable” were enough “wiggle room” to permit Ewell to justify ignoring Lee’s order and deciding against taking Cemetery Hill This inaction allowed the Union to entrench themselves on the higher well defended ground Shaara goes on to make it clear through Lee’s own personal musings that if hard charging BSD Gen Stonewall Jackson had not been killed weeks earlier Cemetery Hill would’ve been taken and the outcome of the battle and possibly of history dramatically altered Another moment of the novel that I found simply breath stealing was the description of the battle of Little Round Top A single regiment of Union soldiers the 20th Maine held off a superior force of confederate charges for well over an hour until they finally ran out of ammunition With the confederate soldiers still advancing and no retreat possible Chamberlain raised his saber let loose the shout that was the greatest sound he could make boiling the yell up from his chest Fix bayonets Charge Fix bayonets Charge Fix bayonets Charge He leaped down from the boulder still screaming his voice beginning to crack and give and all around him his men were roaring animal screams and he saw the whole Regiment rising and pouring over the wall and beginning to bound down through the dark bushes over the dead and dying and wounded The result was that the soldiers from the South broke in the face of the furious charge and the Union held Little Round Top The fact that Chamberlain was a citizen solider being a college professor before volunteering for the army and yet acted so competently and with such courage was amazing to experience uite simply this is an extraordinary novel However for two completely subjective and probably unfair reasons I have elected to only rate this as a very strong 4 stars Reason #1 is that the Civil War is not favorite period of American history and so my juices don’t flow as strongly when reading stories from this time as others smitten with the events Reason #2 goes by the name of Ken Burns and his brilliant mini series The Civil War That masterpiece has ruined me for all other depictions of the conflict The great irony is that Shaara’s novel was a major influence on Burns’s decision to create his mini series in the first place and Burns adopted to a great degree the tone and style employed by Shaara Alas Ken Burns got to me first and his expansive description of the war and the causes thereof keep him firmly dug in at the top of the charts Still a strong strong strong 45 stars and my HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION

doc The Killer Angels

The Killer AngelsCence and crippled beauty were also the casualties of war The Killer Angels is uniue sweeping unforgettable a dramatic re creation of the battleground for America's destin This is one of those books which changes the way people see a subject It is a fictional account of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 putting words into the mouths of some of the best remembered participants most notably Confederate Generals Robert E Lee and James Longstreet and Union Generals Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and John Buford actually Chamberlain was a colonel at this battle but eventually attained the rank of Major General before the end of the war The book violates a common perception of historical writing which says readers of war novels are interested in the common soldiers' experiences rather than the generals who live in the lofty atmosphere of rear headuarters moving armies around like chess pieces Michael Shaara's book works by letting the reader into the private world of soldiers who are as torn by the emotions of decision making in the pandemonium of battle and fear of the unknown as those in all war novels only in this book they mostly happen to be the soldiers who are commanding all of the other soldiers in an engagement that has taken on a mythology which places it in the forefront of our nation's struggles and enshrines the very ground it was fought on as sacred as any piece of real estate in the United States The author was writing science fiction and straight fiction short stories for many major publications for years supplementing his income teaching English Lit at Florida State University before he published his first novel The Broken Place in 1968 It was a very good book but not commercially successful His second novel developed from a family visit to the Gettysburg Battlefield From my own experience I can relate to those who see that place for the first time and if they have a sense of historical perspective toward the war which defined this nation or are at least receptive to learning about the country's great struggle they can feel a sense of awe just standing on that ground and no doubt feel just as moved at other places that defined the national conscience This emotion definitely was felt by Shaara who described his first visit to Gettysburg as an extraordinary experience Shaara's desire to put his feelings on paper led to his decision to write a novel with a story told through the eyes of the leading characters Burning the candle at both ends teaching and writing and in his own recollection consuming large uantities of cigarettes and coffee he finished the novel seven years later His health was already poor having suffered a major heart attack at age 36 in 1965 He finally found a publisher and the book found a small audience after its release Winning the Pulitzer in 1975 helped but the novel's primary audience continued to be history buffs and professional military scholars; it has been reuired reading at leading academies including the US Army War College and the US Military Academy at West Point among others The edition I read was loaned to me by a retired Army officer who had studied at the War College The author passed away from a fatal heart attack in May 1988 still semi famous He had written another novel For the Name of the Game eventually released as a movie in 1999 starring Kevin Costner The Killer Angels finally had its day in 1993 with the release of the film Gettysburg The interest in this Ted Turner backed film generated sales in the book which went to Number One on the New York Times bestseller list The Killer Angels has been followed by two related novels from the author's son Jeffrey Sharra Gods and Generals is a preuel to the events of the Civil War while The Last Full Measure begins where The Killer Angels leaves off The action in both novels occurs through the experiences of the same characters used by Michael Shaara in The Killer AngelsThough a novel this book is a favorite among Civil War readers on a level with the best non fictional works One reason is its underlying faithfulness to historically accurate character portrayals and accountings of the major turning points in the Gettysburg battle It is no exaggeration to claim that the experience of immersing oneself into this book will give any curious reader inspiration to want to know about the Civil War For those who think the reading of history must always be boring this book will dissuade those notions Civil War writing just doesn't get any better