The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was amazed by how much I liked this book.
I enjoy history, though I don't read a ton of it anymore. Having listened to U.S. Grant's memoir earlier in the year, I decided to try a different part of the war, and a different style of book.
The writing is very good, and I felt like I was in the mind of each of the individual characters. The ability to essentially shift writing styles for chapters at a time and to somehow still feel like the book was cohesive is something I have seen poorly imitated, and so I was pretty skeptical. But Shaara nailed it. My heart broke with Longstreet, it thrilled with Chamberlain, and all in all I was left with that feeling I get anytime I read any good writing on war: what a hellish mess. There are beauties and glories, as with any part of human existence. But the sum total is not beauty. Men fighting for a million different personal or cultural reasons, many of which weren't the reasons that the war itself was being fought. Men being given authority because of their education or connections who have no business leading anything, let alone other men. Thousands of lives wasted in lost causes.
What a hellish mess. Bad situations with no good answers. How quintessential to the fallen human experience. How needed for people in our current chaos, to see these are struggles people have always dealt with.
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