The Killer Angels Essay, Research Paper
Response to the “Killer Angels”
The Killer Angels is a historical novel written by Michael Shaara. It is one of the best novels I ever read. It describes four days at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863 in what many consider to be the turning point of the American Civil War. When I was reading this novel I had a feeling that I saw all events by my own eyes. It also made me realize how hard the life during the war is, especially a civil war when people are forced to fight with their countrymen. In this novel Michael Shaara gave us an opportunity to look at Civil war from the point of view of people who actually were fighting at that war.
In the book Michael Shaara follows selected officers on both sides. I also learned a lot about the personalities of the generals of the Civil war: Confederate commander Robert E. Lee, whom Shaara portrays as pious, aging and brave, but also stubborn and dangerously confident; General James Longstreet who favored more cautious tactics; almost fanatical general George Pickett. In the Union army Shaara ignores the Union commander, General George Meade, instead he talks in detail about Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and cavalry commander General John Buford. Probably the best way to write about a battle is to tell it as the men who fought it saw it–and that’s just what Shaara does in this, brilliantly written novel. Michael Shaara also finds time, among the strategies and tactics, to offer some insights into the nature of men (Killer Angels) and war. He states that the war was fought because of a clash in cultures. I also felt that the Union Army fought, not for plunder or conquest, but to make a people free. But I also understood that the Confederate leaders and soldiers also fought for their sense of freedom.
I also think that the one thing why this novel was very powerful for me is that regardless of the viewpoint Michael Shaara takes he probably was using the words of the men themselves drawn from their letters or documents. When reading the book I found out that General Lee was not the one who actually lost the war among many other reasons General’s Lee “right arm” Stonewall Jackson, had been killed and his replacement General J.E.B. Stuart was keeping Lee uninformed.
I did not read a novel in my life that so nearly allowed me to understand the American civil war. And I would advise everybody to read it.