The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels is a historical novel by Michael Shaara about the American Civil War.  This book won the Pulitzer Prize and has sold millions of copies.  Even though the novel is fictional, the author conducted extensive historical research to write this book.  I found this novel to be very realistic, and I can understand why it has become so highly regarded.

The story focuses on the Battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863.  The book is organized into four parts, each part describing a separate day of the battle.  The author delves into great detail as he imagines how some of the main characters in this conflict may have felt as the battle unfolded.  He focuses on important military leaders such as Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet from the South, and Joshua Chamberlain from the North.  The author alternates the perspective from one character to another, so that each chapter is written in the viewpoint of a specific person.  This allows the reader to view the battle from many different perspectives.

I found this book to be thrilling and highly dramatic.  The characters seem to come to life as the author uses dialogue and inner thoughts to portray their feelings and motivations.  Even though the characterizations are fictional, the story is based on real events and was very educational for me.  This was a very enjoyable way to learn about American history.  I learned many details about the Civil War.  It was very interesting to learn about how the battle at Gettysburg was won.  The author portrays both sides of the battle very thoroughly, so that the reader can understand the war from both perspectives.  It was very helpful to learn about this war from a novel that is so vivid and absorbing.  I would definitely recommend this book.

-Oliver H.

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

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