Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jennavier Recommends: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Once upon a time an elderly professor asked me what I liked to read. I was eleven, so the only book I kept track of was the one I was reading at the time. It was an overwrought preteen drama about the Civil War so I told him I liked Civil War books. Since my mom was his employee he benevolently decided to get my siblings and I gifts. For me he got The Killer Angels.

I was hideously disappointed. My sister, who was an adorable toddler with endless curls, got finches. I got an indecipherable book. Four years after the finches were dead I gave the book another shot. I muddled through it, resulting in a generally favorable impression, but didn't really get it. So the fact that I held onto it for the next decade or so makes no sense at all.

I might be a book hoarder, but even I have my limits. When yet another move loomed I culled my hoard. But before I finally got rid of The Killer Angels I decided to give it read it one more time out of sentimental value. And you'll never guess what happened. It was AWESOME!

Michael Sharra has a way of making Gettysburg vital and real. I was invested in the characters, the people, that lived and died there. I understood what was at stake better then I ever had in class. Shaara was meticulous about historical details. While no work of fiction is a substitute for actually being there I felt like I was being told about it from the very people who had lived it. I also love the perspective they had on war. After coming of age in the War on Terror I have little ability to understand other types of conflict. Using some of its major players as vehicles Shaara gave me the ability to understand what the war meant to those people, and how it changed the fabric of the country they left behind.

It helps that in between reads I grew up, took a lot of history classes, and visited Gettysburg. But as a self-described hater of military historical I'm tough to impress. Gettysburg is definitely something worth reading. I'm hanging on to my copy.


  1. I'm pretty sure I have a book hoarding problem too. But mine is with ebooks. Is that a thing?