Review // Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels

Shaara's fascinating historical novel charms the reader while exploring the fortunes of officers in both the Confederate and Union Armies during the battle of Gettysburg, the single bloodiest battle of the United States Civil War. With captivating language, The Killer Angels provides insight into the the similarities between the men on both sides, brothers and friends, classmates and leaders; all dealing with the same decisions an officer must make in battle, kill or be killed. We learn of officers whose minds are often far from the conflict, battling instead personal demons manifested by the war including the daily agony of leading men into certain death. Conflict amongst confederate leadership: Lonstreet’s tactical foresight of the power of the defensive position (a tactic that was decades ahead of its time) and General Lee’s faith in God, god-like status among his men and the people of the South and his arrogance that grew from the two is brought forth through the pages of The Killer Angels making a novel that must be read not only as a record of history, but an opportunity to learn of the struggle that consumed the minds of the men who lead on those historic days in July 1863.