The Killer Angels
Author: Michael Shaara
I’m a bad husband. My wife told me this was her favorite book when we met, and we’ve been together since 2005. I’m just now reading it in 2018.
This was a very interesting book. I’m a fan of military historical fiction, although this was so historical I hesitate to call it fiction. It’s obvious that Shaara has researched the individuals in his book and the dynamics of the war at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Killer Angels is a very character driven story, particularly focusing on James Longstreet (a General in the southern army) and Joshua Chamberlain (a colonel in the Union army). Robert E. Lee also makes an appearance, and General Meade is mentioned, but other big Civil War personalities like Grant, McClelland and Lincoln are all absent.
With Shaara picking less famous individuals to focus on as perspective characters, unless you are a big Civil War buff or know who was present at Appomattox, you probably won’t be able to guess who lives and dies during the battle. The book also helped educate me on the battle itself. I was familiar with Pickett’s charge, but John Buford’s involvement was completely new to me.
My only nitpick with the book was the character of Lewis Armistead didn’t feel fully developed, and then was the focal point character for one of the biggest moments in the book. By contrast, Longstreet, Lee, and Chamberlain were all distinct personalities and felt like important men. Chamberlain in particular seemed like an interesting character, and the afterward at the end of the book makes it seem like he is worth reading more about and shows up in at least one other book in Shaara’s Civil War Trilogy.