The Killer Angels By: Micheal Shaara
"Thus ended the great American Civil War, which must upon the whole be considered the noblest and least avoidable of all the great mass conflicts of which till then there was record" -Wiston Churchill (Shaara Micheal, 347).
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Micheal Shaara
Biography
Micheal Shaara was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1928. Shaara's writing begain in the early 1950's by publishing many short stories for magizines such as Playboy, Cosmopolitain, and The Saturday Evening Post. He published two other books which were The Broken Place and The Noah Conspiracy. Shaara was only able to publish two other novels because of the two heart attacks he suffered, one when he was 36 and the other on May 5th, 1988 which was fatal. Shaara got the inspration to write this story after a family vacation to Gettysburg. After this vacation, he could not stop telling the stories of the main charcters, and he decided to write The Killer Angels. This story was rejected fifteen times before an indepentdent publisher decided to publish it in 1973. (Shaara Jeff).


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The Killer Angels
was a novel written by Shaara to show the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of several of those who fought during the battle. Shaara, in his note to the reader says "This is the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, told from the view points of Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet and some of the other men who fought there" (Shaara MIchael xiii). (Click here for more info on the battle of Gettysburg)

This story, like an editor from the Daily Press states, "This is one of the best novels of the Civil War that I've read" (Shaara Michael iii). There were many things that made this novel a very easy read, one of these being the maps by Don Pitcher. The maps were very helpful in painting that final picture that allows very little detail about the novel to be seen. It seemed like every time t the novel got confusing, on the next page there was a map showing who was where and what was about to happen on the battlefield. The table of contents for the maps can be found on page xi. The next thing that was very helpful about the novel was the introduction to each main officer from each side of the army. One of these introductions is about Lee, which is quoted here: "He is in his fifty-seventh year. Five feet ten inches tall but very short in the legs, so that when he rides a horse he seems much taller. Red-faced, like all the the Lee's white bearded, dressed in an old gray coat and a gray felt hat" (Shaara Micheal xvi). Descriptions like this were very helpful in the reading of the novel, they helped determine what side the characters were on with just a quick glance back at these pages. This allows a reader to continue reading without having to stop all together. The last thing that was very helpful was the breaking up of the novel by date. These pages served much like a new chapter page would, except this page told the date and time. This was very helpful because it allowed the reader to look at it and then do futher in depth research online to help figure out the minor details that Shaara left out. This novel also had two things that didn't work the greatest while reading this novel. One of these things includes the changing of the main character after very chapter. The novel would swich sides of the war at times and for about the first couple pages of the chapter it was hard to figure out if this character was for the south or north. This is where the introductions helped a lot. The last thing that didn't work very well was the length of the chapters. At times it was hard to follow the battle during the novel because it took tewnty pages to describe about 3 hours of the battle with a lot of little details, but since this novel was written by Shaara, he had the power to put in whatever he pleased to fit the needs of the reader.

This book was put onto the outstanding book list first beacause of its historical content of the battle and the fact that Shaara never left the yellow brick road to put in is own opinion and stretch the facts. This can be related to the courts systems of today in how the jury is not allowed to have any biased opinion or stray from the yellow brick road and give the wrong verdict because of this. The second reason why this book was put onto the outstanding book list was because of the straight details that Shaara gives. Throughout the book Shaara just gives the straight details and never adds to the facts to make it more interesting. This can be shown when Robert Lee, right before the final charge, is about to be made makes his final desicion on what to do (Shaara Micheal 261-270). During this time, many authors would choose to add details to exaggerate the truth, and build the suspense of the reader, but Shaara sticks to the facts. The last reason why this book was put on to the outstanding book list was probably because it was one of the very first novels to take up both sides of the Civil War and to never once put their own opinion in to disprupt what was really done and why. That is why this book was put on the outstanding book list.

I would recommend this book to anyone that is trying to write a paper on the Battle of Gettysburg or the Civil War because Shaara does a great job of making the facts easy to find and not hard to understand or pull out. The next group of people that I would recomnend this book to would be the group that finds historical fiction hard to read and understand. I have talked to several people that have read this book and because it was an easy read and it had a lot of good factual information in it, it hooked them on the genre of historical fiction. That is who I would recommend this book to.




Other books to read of Micheal and his son Jeff
  1. The Brooken Place By: Micheal Shaara
  2. The Noah Conspricay By: Micheal Shaara
  3. The Last Full Measure By: Jeff Shaara

Other Wikis of the same genre
  1. Aaron-A Farewell to Arms
  2. Aaron - The Things They Carried
  3. Mitch-A Separate Peace




Works Cited

Shaara, Jeff. 'Micheal Shaara" Jeff Shaara. 2007. March 9th 2009. http://www.jeffshaara.com/michaelbio.html.

Shaar, Micheal. The Killer Angels. New York, New York: The Random House Publishing Group, July 1975.