Bookmark: The Killer Angels

A great, if not slightly romanticized, account of the Battle of Gettysburg. It's a historical novel that takes liberties filling in the gaps between troop movement and battles with conversations between those present in July 1863. As I understand it, the book is required reading for those about to enter The Citadel in South Carolina.

The author, Michael Shaara, admits as much up front. Still, he does make those three pivotal days come alive in a way that any previous exposure I had to them did not. I've briefly visited the Gettysburg, a National Military Park within the National Park Service, but had only cursory coverage of all that took place there. Having read this book, the plan is to return and sign up for a guided tour. The book is one in a three-part series and while I am not typically fond of fiction, this book was so well done that I am very eager to read the other two.

To the book's credit, it strategically avoids examining whether or not North or South were "in the right." It also succeeds at denying quarter to anyone who would try to defend the South's position while avoiding demonizing "the rebs." The book is not preachy and both sides - and their respective cast members - are well flawed. The book successfully adds a human dimension to something usually taught by rote in American history classes, making it more accessible and real. Finally, given the particularly politically divided climate in which we find ourselves, the book reminds the reader to, at the very least, try to understand those so vehemently opposed to you and your point of view.