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The Killer Angels [Paperback]

Michael Shaara
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Aug 2008
It is the third summer of the war...On June 15, 1863, Robert Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia slips across the Potomac to begin the invasion of the North. His army is 70,000 strong but mostly unpaid and self-equipped. It has won nearly every battle it has fought. Lee knows a letter has been written, a letter offering peace. It is to be placed on the desk of Abraham Lincoln the day after Lee has won this battle.


Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited (15 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846970865
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846970863
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 253,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'The best and most realistic historical novel about war I have ever read.' --General H Norman Schwarzkopf

'My favourite historical novel ... A superb recreation of the Battle of Gettysburg, but its real importance is its insight into what the war was about, and what it meant.' --James M McPherson

About the Author

Michael Shaara (1928-88) was an American writer of science, sports and historical fiction. He served in the Korean War, was an amateur boxer and police officer. He later taught literature at Florida State University. 'The Killer Angels' won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Men, Motivation and Morality 10 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I grew up just an hour from the beautiful countryside that is Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As a child and young adult I had visited the battlefield there on numerous school trips and family outings. But it wasn't until I read Killer Angels that those familiar landmarks (Little and Big Round Top, Devils Den, etc), came to represent the human cost of one of the bloodiest battles in American History.

Killer Angels gives us the key players, the Confederate and Union Officers, that made the crucial decisions and/or had to carry them out. The story provides the reader with a sense of the professional and personal motivations behind their decisions and the interpersonal relationships that existed not just between officers in the same army, but relationships that had existed between officers on the opposing side.

Michael Shaara manages to provide a vivid account of the Battle of Gettysburg that never takes sides. He simply unfolds the three days and leaves his readers to witness the carnage that results. This is an extremely well written book which makes it a pleasure to read. The difficulty comes in managing the fact that this "story" is based on real events resulting in unimaginable human loss and devastation.

An excellent book...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I've written several reviews for Amazon panning books I don't like so I thought I'd better write one about a book I do thoroughly recommend. I came to this book knowing Gettysburg was important but not much else. It worked for me on several different levels.

First, it was a brilliantly clear and concise account of the fighting; I have tried reading some of the history books on the subject since and I can see that Shaara probably tied things up a bit but whose account do I have in mind as I write this, Shaara's or the "real" historians' version? No contest, Shaara wins hands-down. Did he "rewrite" history? I am sure he did to some extent - for example, in reading a "real" history I was surprised by how little mention there was of Joseph Chamberlain who is one of the heroes of the novel. Do I care? Not much.

Second, the insights into the commanders who were there. As a study in human strengths and frailties it is one of the best things I have ever read (the only historian I have read who is on a par is John Keegan). These men were humans, not supermen and seeing things through tired eyes and minds was so much superior to a dry historical explanation of units manoeuvring around a map. The scenes between Lee and Longstreet on the second and third day are absorbing as the arguments ebb and flow. (And if, like me, you desperately wanted Longstreet to prevail then get yourself a copy of Newt Gingrich's book; you won't be disappointed.) The description of Pickett's Charge has stayed with me and is so familiar from descriptions of First World War battles.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By G. Mott
Format:Paperback
Actually bought this when visiting Gettysburg but wished I had read it beforehand.

Described as "a Novel" it takes real people and real events but spins them into a series of individual stories. While this might sound clumsy it works well and with the clear maps the reader has a good understanding of a dramatic story about which (if they are from the UK), they may know little. In fact a British reader may have the advantage over Americans in that the story is fresh and they wont know the outcome. For Americans the characters and stories are very well known.

Col. Freemantle, the real life British observer (though in fact he was basically a tourist) is well drawn without the caricatures or anti-Brtish bias sometimes seen.

The book formed the basis of the film Gettysburg which is also good though the acting and stick on beards (and its enormous length) make it more one for the enthusiast. (Also in the film Col. Freemantle becomes a red coated, tea drinking, toff.)
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully moving book about men and war 17 Feb 2003
By Deborah MacGillivray HALL OF FAME VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This book came out during a period when I had no time to read. Then when the time came along, it was next to impossible to find a copy. I finally did track one down and was blown away. I adore Scottish History, but since I was raised part time in the States, I grew to love the complexities of the Civil War (in the South US it's called the War Between the States). The reasons for the war, the motivation for people to fight their neighbour, often their own brother or family members was mesmerising. Bruce Catton gave me such insight into all the factors through his marvellous works, so I thought no writer could touch him in making you feel, see and understand the men, the generals, the affect the Civil War had on a nation.
However, a writer did, and oddly enough with fiction. Michael Shaara won a Pulitzer Prize for the moving work that focuses on the one pivotal battle, the high-water mark of the War Between the States. He gives you the frustration of men driven to kill their brothers, of the futility, the waste. Centring on Lee, floundering at the loss of his right hand Jackson, of being cut off from screening and blind without information because Stuart was on one of his glory rides, of one general who could not follow orders, of another, Longstreet, who followed them to the letter knowing he was sending his 'boys' to their death in the glorious, yet ultimately disastrous Pickett's charge.
But it through Col. J.L. Chamberlain where Shaara succeeds the most, in giving you the humanity, the nightmare, the pathos, of the men of 20th Maine regiment, volunteers who held the Union's left flank on the second day of the battle at Little Round Top.
The book is so moving, so touching that it makes you view the war in a way you never have before.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My 'all time favourite' book.
Published 25 days ago by GS
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent hard copy of Killer Angels!
I already had this book in soft cover but I am absorbed in American history, Ancient history and Medieval history. Read more
Published 2 months ago by George Best
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Have put this book off for about ten years. My father gave it to me. He's the civil war buff. I finally read it. Just terrific. Just a great, great book. Heartbreaking, too. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J. Reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Thoroughly enjoyed it, getting a good understanding of the mechanics of the battle. Although never at the expense of the human cost or the political implications. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars An insider's view
A nice way for a European to understand the facts and more important culture that underpinned the decisions made at Gettysburg.
Published 10 months ago by MR PETER J ASHBY
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!
A magnificent account of the most critical battle in American history, although it came about almost by accident. Read more
Published 10 months ago by I G WAKEFIELD
4.0 out of 5 stars Puts you right in there
I have read a lot of stuff about the American Civil War in general and Gettysburg in particular. But this book still manage to put the "feel" of the occasion over more... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Artefact
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
Not just for Civil War buffs but those with this interest will find the treatment of Longstreet's relationship with Lee particularly compelling.
Published 12 months ago by AMFP
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read!!
It is difficult to write a novel that includes accurate historical events and include the emotional personal feelings behind the decisions of the men responsible for the conduct... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Altosax
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, difficult to put down.
Excellent book, well written, gives a taste of the carnage at Gettysburg. A lot better than the movie that was a great let-down.
Published 13 months ago by Mr. C. N. Watson
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