- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In 1966, Michael Shaara took his family on an outing to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to visit the historic battlefields of the Civil War. It was there that he first felt the inspiration to compose what has become one of the greatest pieces of historical fiction ever written about that great and tragic battle: The Killer Angels, published in 1975. Michael Shaara won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, and his book was the basis for the epic 1993 Ted Turner film, "Gettysburg," which he unfortunately did not live to see. But there was something missing, something left unwritten. Now Jeff Shaara, Michael's son, has penned his first novel, a prequel to The Killer Angels, adding more depth to the characters his father chronicled. Jeff had a strong vision of how to make the story in his own novel blend with his father's masterpiece and an innate sense of how to make one story flow into the other. The result is Gods and Generals, proof that Jeff Shaara has inherited his father's ability to compose epic historical fiction.
"My father taught creative writing at Florida State University," explains Jeff, "and he would be the first to tell you that you cannot teach creative writing. Inspiration comes from a very strange place, something I never understood or experienced before trying to write Gods and Generals. I still can't explain where it comes from, how the words seem to just flow. I do recall one lesson of his, however: 'Show it, don't tell it.'" Indeed, the characters speak for themselves in Shaara's new novel, as the heroes ofthebattlefield from The Killer Angels — Winfield Scott Hancock, Robert E. Lee, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain — travel on the long road from Harper's Ferry to Gettysburg, where they fight to the bloody end. Gods and Generals is the story of the opening years of the war, of armies repeatedly locked in fierce struggles and stalemates, of enemies who had only a few years earlier been compatriots. The great commanders of the armies were never friends, but united forever nonetheless, as their individual stories, in the author's own words, "shape the most tragic event in our nation's history."
Hancock, Lee, Chamberlain — and a new character, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson — all meet for the first time at the battle of Fredericksburg, where Lee's Confederate Army gains a much-needed victory. But it is in the next great battle, at Chancellorsville, that Jackson is mortally wounded and the Union gains a vital edge. The only remaining hope for the rebel army, severely outmanned, is to make a final rush on Washington. And so the march begins, across the Potomac toward the tiny town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Jeff Shaara gives the reader the background history to The Killer Angels, from the opening skirmishes at Manassas to the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg. He brings to life the scenes and characters, the colors and terrors, of the terrible yet fascinating event that was the Civil War in America. To tour the monuments erected to battle in that historic Pennsylvania town, or any town visited by the Civil War, is to feel the spirits of history, courage, and tragedy that dwell there. Michael Shaara felt it, and his passion has been successfully passed along to his son. Jeff Shaara's Gods and Generals belongs on the bookshelves of historical-fiction readers everywhere.