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Book Summary - The Killer Angles by Michael Shaara

I’m proclaiming this week Read the Great Books week! I will post summaries of some of the most Googled book summaries and leave a link to my Amazon Affiliates account if you want to grab a copy of those books for yourself. Let’s get started!

Michael Shaara's historical fiction novel "The Killer Angels" explores the events leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg, a pivotal moment in the American Civil War. The story is told from the points of view of several key Union and Confederate figures, including General Robert E. Lee, General James Longstreet, and Colonel Joshua Chamberlain.

This is my all-time favorite book. I am a huge history buff, particularly of the American Civil War. I grew up in Maine and heard stories about Joshua Chamberlain and the valiant 20th Maine Regiment, as well as the 70,000 Mainers who served in the War of Insurrection (as it was called to us).

The novel delves into these men's personal lives, revealing their motivations and fears. General Lee is burdened by the weight of his responsibilities and the realization that he is leading his men into what could be a devastating defeat. General Longstreet is torn between his loyalty to Lee and his belief that the Confederate army should adopt a defensive strategy rather than engage in a full-scale battle.

Further, it details the Battle of Little Round Top, where the 20th Maine was anchored as the farthest left point of the Union Army of Potomac. Here Colonel Chamberlain is put in the tumultuous position of holding the line at all costs. Should Chamberlain’s 350 soldiers fail to, it could have caused the entire Union flank to collapse. (Spoiler alert!) Out of ammunition and outnumbered, Chamberlain and his officers led a valiant bayonet charge against the Alabama soldiers opposing them to win the day!

Shaara skillfully balances the personal stories of these characters with the larger historical context of the Civil War throughout the novel. He vividly depicts the brutal realities of war and the emotional toll it takes on soldiers and their families. The Battle of Gettysburg is depicted in vivid detail, with Shaara describing the tactics and strategies used by both sides in an educational and engaging manner.

"The Killer Angels" is ultimately a powerful exploration of the human cost of war and the complex motivations that drive men to fight. Shaara's prose is both beautiful and haunting, perfectly capturing the essence of the era and the characters he portrays. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the Civil War or American history.



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