He has a terrific voice and varies it well for the different characters, but it's just too slow. There's a kind of anchorman quality to it, an "every word has to weigh something" quality to it. I "fixed" the issue by listening to the book at double-speed on my iPod, and I enjoyed his performance after that.
In his introduction to the edition I read, Shaara’s son Jeff says that the novel’s origins date to a family trip they took to Gettysburg in 1964 for the centennial of the battle. The book grew out of Shaara’s impulse to tell the story to his family that day from the perspective of the different figures who lived it, and it gave birth to what may well be a new way of recounting history. It’s now been a half century since that family trip, and I have to hand it to Shaara – the method he developed is still effective, still capable of bringing some of the power of that history to life.
I’d go so far as to argue that Shaara, in effect, created the template for the fantastic history that underlies George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. That is, by carving a huge war story into smaller pieces – pieces framed by the perspective of a single participant – he gives the impression of a story larger than any one person could see and yet always connected to a human perspective.
There are probably some slow parts to all of this. It takes a while to establish some of the characters, and, since the novel presumes greater familiarity with the details of Gettysburg than most of us educated in the last 40 years have, some of the foreshadowing either misses the mark or seems heavy-handed.
But none of those age spots really dim the accomplishment here. There really is something thrilling about the combat. No one is ever allowed to be a true villain, and few of the heroes on either side escape without some blemishes. It celebrates the men who fought in the war more than it champions any particular cause and, in a small way, it serves as a belated effort at Reconstruction – a way of imagining a past usable by both the North and the South to make sense of a united future.
I’m not quite sure that each of these characters assumes the dimensions of a fully realized character, but there’s no question that Shaara gives us different ways of thinking about the same conflict. Whether it’s a matter of States Rights as an extension of the original Revolutionary impulse or the notion that freedom for any depends on freedom for all, it is always a matter of recognizing the importance of courage and level-headedness in impossible circumstances.
And it’s also at times a dramatic, even riveting story. The account of Chamberlain’s defense of Little Round Top had me at the edge of my seat. It was action as thrilling as anything you’ll find in Game of Thrones but it was even more rewarding for being a reflection of genuine history.
I know there have been some well-regarded films to grow out of Shaara’s work (and that his son has continued the family tradition, applying the same literary method to other periods of American military history), and I intend to explore them. This seems a terrific place to start with all of that, though, with a new way to see history that Shaara came up with 50 years ago himself.
The narrator's performance enhanced the book. I might need to listen to it again to really follow the names and sequence of events. I looked forward to listening to this every chance I had.
Too slow. It's sits in one persons head too long about stuff they're pondering. Not enough action for me. I thought this was about the guys in the civil war not what they're thinking at every small scene.
I lost interest half way through. Not much of a story when they keep going into peoples thoughts.
Some parts were funny.
Not really a war book. More of the authors guess of what might have went through these guys heads.
Great story. and great performance; perhaps the best Civil war I've read. I highly recommend it.
thanks audible for making my commute not only tolerable but borderline enjoyable! ;)
I can't quite put my finger on what would have made it better. I think the story (even though real and profound) just didn't captivated me enough to keep me interested. Granted, I am a foreigner in the glorious USA and have not studied the civil war back in school. So I guess that in a certain way it is my own fault that I didn't have sufficient context/color/backdrop to properly fill in the gaps that this book is not intended to do. So, if that's your case as well, you're probably better off getting some other book on the war first to have a firm understanding of the events and then step into this book that has a very unique perspective.
I was mostly disappointed in not being able to separate who was who. There are many names mentioned all the time and it was difficult to keep tabs on each one.
Make sure you have a good understanding of the civil was and its main events/main people involved. This might enable you to better appreciate this book. Maybe one day I'll read a different book on the war and revisit this one. I confess I am not feeling very compelled to do so at the moment.