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Empty Shelf Challenge: The Killer Angels

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The Killer Angels

Title: The Killer Angels

Authors: Michael Shaara

What’s it about: This is a historical novel about the Battle of Gettysburg, following key figures from both sides, in particular, Col. Joshua Chamberlain on the Union side and Gen. James Longstreet of the Confederacy. There are other major figures from the Civil War as well, including Gen. Robert E. Lee (You never can leave out that E.) and Gen. John Buford. Although it is a work of fiction, Shaara used the actual words of the men from historical sources. He used only one fictional character: the Union soldier Buster Killrain, an aide to Chamberlain.
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Why did I read it: We’re studying the Civil War in history, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to read (listen to) this book that I’ve heard so much about in the past. I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction including straight history and some sci-fi and fantasy, I thought this would be a nice departure from that. The movie Gettysburg is based on the novel, and Shaara’s son has written two other books — Gods and Generals, a prequel to this book, and The Last Full Measure, a sequel. I may look into those. Although I’m about ready for the war to be over; it’s so heartbreaking.

What did I think: This is a wonderfully told story of one of the most important battles in American history. It’s easy to see why this won the Pulitzer Prize. Shaara is a master storyteller. Often when reading about battles, the action is confusing. Shaara manages to convey the complex action, but not at the expense of the rich characters or the story. Even though I checked it out from the library, this is definitely a book I want to buy for our personal library.

I actually listened to the audiobook, read by George Guidall, and it is the best audiobook I’ve listened to. This edition is no longer in print, but you can buy it used on Amazon. There is another version available on Audible (and Amazon if you prefer CD). Audio books can be hit or miss. There are those who aren’t worthy of mentioning, except as source to be avoided. Some are merely serviceable, like Michael York’s reading of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Some are wonderful, Cheaper by the Dozen read by Dana Ivey and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by David Tennant come to mind. This performance is in its own category. It is almost perfect, capturing the every character, the action, the drama, and the sorrow. I hate that it’s out of print, however, Audible lists 501 other works that Guidall has narrated, so there’s that.

Where can I buy it: Here

3 responses to “Empty Shelf Challenge: The Killer Angels”

  1. Cindy Watson Avatar
    Cindy Watson

    Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede is actually better( even though it is a great book) as audio. They have an entire cast and the witch has nine cats that speak. Amazing voices!! Everyone I have loaned the audio book to agrees!

  2. […] doesn’t often achieve. I was very impressed with Shaara’s father’s book The Killer Angels, and had heard good things about the younger Shaara’s sequels to that novel. However, at the […]

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