July 1863. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia is invading the North. General Robert E. Lee has made this daring and massive move with 70,000 men in a determined effort to draw out the Union Army of the Potomac and mortally wound it. His right hand is General James Longstreet, a brooding man who is loyal to Lee but stubbornly argues against his plan. Opposing them is an unknown factor: General George Meade, who has taken command of the Army only two days before what will be perhaps the crucial battle of the Civil War.
In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation's history, two armies fight for two conflicting dreams. One dreams of freedom, the other of a way of life. More than rifles and bullets are carried into battle. The soldiers carry memories. Promises. Love. And more than men fall on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty are also the casualties of war.
The Killer Angels is unique, sweeping, unforgettable, a dramatic re-creation of the battleground for America's destiny.
©1974 Michael Shaara, copyright renewed 2002 Jeffrey M. Shaara & Lila E. Shaara; (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Shaara carries [the reader] swiftly and dramatically to a climax as exciting as if it were being heard for the first time." (The Seattle Times)
"The best and most realistic historical novel about war I have ever read." (General H. Norman Schwarzkopf)
The Movie Gettysburg is based on this book. The book gives great insight to the 3 days of battle & the generals
What a great book!! I would recommend this to anyone interested in history. Great narration too!! I thoroughly enjoyed it and was sorry when it was over. Miss the characters
This is possibly the Best Historical Novel l have ever listened to. The reader does a wonderful job with All the voices & prose of the book. Gives personal views of those involved in this battle of the Civil War. I HIGHLY Recommend this book to anyone!
I don't think it is fair to compare. My library covers a range of subjects and topics. Let me say this instead; I can find no fault with either the book or its audio presentation. I know that other writers and narrators can do as well in their own way, but I cannot imagine anyone improving on the quality of this book.
I wish I could compare it to the novels in the same series by Michael's son Jeff Schaara but annoyingly the Audible titles are abridged and sorry Audible, but the word "Abridged" immediately makes a title a "no go" zone for me. (Incidentally, Jeff's prologue to the book explaining its history is also well worth reading.) I have read some historical novels previously but I'm really not sure that they compare to The Killer Angels; it was something new at the time. Schaara sticks to history as far as he can but what's unique about the books is the way they try to place you inside the minds of the different participants without flights of fancy. (True, you can never know what's in another person's mind but the author seems to have tried his best to, based on what's known of them.) I wouldn't go so far as to say that Killer Angels is one of a kind, but certainly its approach is very different to most historical novels in my view.
Unfortunately not. But I almost feel as if he was born to read this book. The way his voice slips easily and in a readily identifiable way between the characters was outstanding. His delivery was pitched perfectly, his enunciation flawless, and he knew how to handle pace, particularly during Pickett's Charge.
There were so many pieces of fine writing and narration in that book it probably be hard to do justice to any single one of them. If I had to choose, if there was no other option but to choose... perhaps the conversation between Lee and Longstreet after the battle, when Lee realises how badly he screwed up and Longstreet, though quietly angry that his advice had been ignored, still melted when Lee asked for his help.
I don't really like giving 5 star reviews; very few things in this world can be perfect. And it is probably true that this book isn't as well. Look long enough and hard enough and there will always be a fault to be found with anything. But in this case I was left with a feeling that I was dealing with literature (both written and audio) at its finest; the sort of writing and narration that can take you to another place and time and meet people that you will never be able to in real life. I would love to have met both Longstreet and Chamberlain, but it can never happen. This is as close as I can get. And if I were to find fault with this book I would feel it to be cheap and petty thing, undermining the insights that I had gained from it. Perhaps a couple of characters from history could have been explored in more detail; but more likely doing so would merely clutter the story rather than expanding it. Accordingly I give it 5 stars simply because nothing could improve the core of the story, the characters, the telling or the narration of it. This is a fine book (both written and audio) that I would not hesitate to recommend for anyone with an interest in the past, even if they aren't Civil War buffs (which I was not, though I'm much more interested now).
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.
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