9 December 2014
The Killer Angels
29 June 1863 by far the most tragic day in American history. The day brothers struck fighting to the death against their own brothers quite literally in some cases. The book Michael Shaara and copy written in 1974 wrote The Killer Bees is a civil war novel that has sold over 2.5 million copies. Although the book is a novel of great insight and awakens all of one’s senses and it could possibly distort the true quite easily. It is a fantastic movie with great book potential. Similarly as most books are made into movies, this particular books reads and feels like it was a vision of Shaara’s before it was thought into existence more literarily.
The Killer Angels is written from a personal perspective from the men fighting in and during the war, much more so than a historical one. WestPoint played a key role in this war. Although none of the reason for the war had anything to do with WestPoint it had everything to do with its’ graduates. Nearly all the high-ranking men from the north and the south were graduates from this strategic military university. From the very first words in the Forward the book recognizes the generals and their unique personas. It defines in great detail the affections that the men may have had for one-another prior to this war both the good and the bad of each; however, the most glaring bit of information of all is the magnetism portrayed by General Robert E.Lee. The Killer Angels pulls no punches when describing how well liked and respected the general were from both sides of the Mason Dixon Line. It speaks of no other with this reverence and description. The surprising thing that Shaaras research shows is his compassion to attempt to get it right. Shaara spoke of the officers in terms of their ranks, skill sets, age and weaknesses as if he were there and had dealt with them all. From the very first chapter as it describes the weasel-like -looking spy or as he preferred to be called the “scout” but, very thorough and accurate with his information to a wonderful degree; however, historically accurate his accounts or his existence truly was is not clear. It speaks of how General Lee or Bobby as General Longstreet affectionately and respectfully had called him on occasion felt about the” scout” the good General Lee did not believe in the use or compensation paid to a m an such as he.
On page 201 the two Generals are preparing to move into Gettysburg as General Longstreet steers his horse in the direction of war down the road General Lee comes galloping slowly behind and ask with a formal grace if he may join him and Longstreet agrees, all the while the troops erupt in great affection and admiration for General Lee as he passes by his army. It’s not until the very middle of the page in the third and fourth paragraph that everyone gets’ the feel for what this war involved and the feelings on display. Many of the men were conflicted, torn; heart broke and filled with grief. Simply not that long ago they were engaged in wars together not against one-another. It is striking to hear the two generals talking about the weather and similarities of prior conflicts the two men and their armies had previously fought together. The two speak of the quality of the men General Longstreet says, “That was a good outfit. There were some very good men in that outfit.” (Longstreet p201) And Lee says “ Yes”(Lee p201) and its not until General Lee says” Some of them are up ahead now, waiting for us” ( Lee p201) That you get a true feel for the moment and the emotional state of the men.
The book transitions well from scene to scene and it follows