May 3, 2012

Movie Review: The Killer Angels

Cpl. Laura Cardoso
Desert Warrior Staff

The historical novel, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is about the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. The book is written from the perspective of the people fighting and shares their thoughts and feelings about the battle as it goes on.

The book is an accurate and fair account of the battle of Gettysburg.

Shaara states in the beginning of his book that his primary sources and documents were accounts from the Marines involved. He studied letters and notes and historical artifacts from the Marines. He states he did not consciously change any facts. His purpose was to bring this part of American history to life. Throughout, Shaara attempts to evenly show both sides of the war and explain why the Marines were really fighting. By using Harrison, an actor who is hired by General Longstreet to spy on the Union forces, as a narrator, Shaara is able to remain neutral as he tells the events leading up to and during the battle.

He is able to tell what both the Confederate and Union forces are planning. This story begins in June 1863 just days before a battle called the biggest and bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil. Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who is in command of the 20th Maine, is given command of 120 mutinous men. By accident, these men signed three year contracts, rather than the two year contracts the rest of the men in their regiment had signed. When the other men returned home, these men wanted to return as well. They were starved, punished, and taken to Chamberlain who is ordered to kill any who refuse to return to fight.

This book is one of my favorite historical novels. A superb re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg, but its real importance is its insight into what the war was about, and what it meant.

It really helped the reader to understand what the men were feeling at the time.  I was entirely pleased with the story.

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