Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

I'm rereading this magnificently written book just because. I can't believe I hadn't reviewed it here so am hastily pushing this book your way. It is not a typical Civil War book or I wouldn't like it. This is truly something special. Here's the review I posted on Goodreads in 2012.

Against all odds I loved this book. I wanted both sides to win. This despite being initially unnerved to see maps when I opened it. Maps with arrows indicating troop movements hither and thither around Gettysburg.

I do not care about maps in books. Even for Lord of the Rings I ignored the maps. I hasten to add that I actually love real maps ... on a wall, in an art book, on a blog. I just do not want to have to make my mental image when reading have to conform to the reality of a map.

Feeling brave despite my unnerving experience I soldiered on. (ha!) I would like everyone to note that my reading of Coraline (for both Good Story and also SFFaudio) was not in vain. Bravery consists in keeping going when one is afraid (or even merely unnerved).

It only took reading the descriptions of the leaders to begin embracing the book. The author makes all the personalities so accessible, all the military talk so clear, and sets the tale in clear, grounded writing.

For example, I just finished reading the Battle of Little Round Top. I felt as if I was in the battle itself, while not being dragged into the grim details. Watching through Chamberlain's eyes, one can see the decisions, the chaos, the necessity that drives the way the battle went. And, Hood was right. Of course, we could tell that all along just as Longstreet could.

It is simply an amazing book in communicating the humanity, the flaws, the errors, and the brotherhood and love of these men ... and the tragedy of the battle. I now have a small crush on General Longstreet. Also on Chamberlain.


I originally read this for our podcast where you may listen to it here: Good Story #36. Scott learns that Texas is it's own direction, and Julie changes her opinion about Robert E. Lee. Neither is certain where in the timeline to find Lincoln's vampire slaying.

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