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The Killer Angels

Word Count: 539Most people think of the Civil War as a military battle
between the North and South. Without studying the subject,
they do not appreciate the facts that make up this historical
event. When one reads the novel, , the
reader will have a much better perception and understanding
of what actually happened during the war. The Killer Angels,
which is written by Michael Shaara, tells the epic story of the
great battle of Gettysburg, which left 50,000 Confederate
and Union soldiers dead, wounded, or missing. The tale is
told from the alternating points of view from several of each
sides significant participants. The book moves back and
forth from the North and South perspective. Shaara portrays
the terrible butchery of the three days fighting through the
vividly ren- dered thoughts and emotions of men such as
General Robert E. Lee, Major General John Buford from
the South and from the North, Brigadier General Lewis
Armistead, and Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. This is a
tremendously moving novel, guaranteed unforget- table. The
book instills in one’s mind what a battle fought during the
Civil War was actu- ally like to be apart of for the soldiers.

The setting for the book takes place in Pennsylvania, where
the Battle of Gettys- burg is fought. The author provides
many detailed maps of both army’s positions. Throughout
the book, the reader is shown the pain, difficulty, anguish,
and other dilemmas the armies face leading up to the final
confrontation. In the beginning of the book we learn about
the North from a spy for the South. His job was to scout the
North’s position as well count the number of troops. He
reports to General Robert E. Lee and recalls what he saw.

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The spy’s information proved useful to the Confederates’ at
the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg. The fight at
Gettysburg is a series of battles. At first the South gains
ground but eventually the North secures the better field
position and crushes the Southern forces. The author makes
it clear that it is General Robert E. Lee’s poor judgment and
de- cisions that causes the South to lose the Battle of
Gettysburg. Lee even credits himself for the South’s failure,
as quoted in the book, “No blame can be attached to the
army for its failure to accomplish what was projected by me.

. . . I alone am to blame, in perhaps ex- pecting too much of
its prowess and valor . . . could I have foreseen that the
attack on the last day would fail, I should certainly have tried
some other course . . . but I do not know what better course
I could have pursued” The Killer Angels, Ballantine Books,
page 349. General Lee wanted to attack the Union troops
at Gettysburg, even though the North had the better ground,
more supplies, and thousands of more troops. Lee’s mind
was already set and he did not want to change it. Overall,
Lee was a good general, but during this particular battle, he
did not make the best of decisions, which in the opinion of
the author led to the Confederate troops losing the war. In
conclusion, I recommend The Killer Angels to anyone who
is curious or inter- ested about finding out what the Civil
War was like. The book provides an accurate and detailed
description of the war. On the cover of the book, General
H. Norman Schwarzkopf is quoted as saying that the book
is “The best and most realistic historical novel about war I
have ever read.”


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