About the Book: The Killer Angels

After more than a quarter of a century and three million copies in print, Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War classic, The Killer Angels , remains as vivid and as powerful as the day it was originally published.

July 1863.  The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia is invading the North.  General Robert E. Lee has made a daring move with seventy thousand men in an effort to mortally wound the Union Army of the Potomac.  His right-hand man is General James Longstreet, who argues against this plan.  Opposing them is Major General George Meade who, just two days before, took command of the Union Army.

As it turns out, the Battle of Gettysburg consumed four of the most courageous days in the nation’s history.  Far more than rifles and bullets were carried in that battle.  Soldiers young and old carried memories of home as well as prayers for a brighter future.  And in those few days, more than men fell; gone was a young nation’s innocence about what war was about and what it meant.

About the Author: Michael Shaara

Michael Shaara was born in 1928, the son of Italian immigrants.  He graduated from Rutgers University in 1951 and then served as a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne of the U. S. Army.  After his return from the Korean War, Shaara began writing science fiction stories and then taught literature at Florida State University.

In the mid 1960′s, Shaara reflected on a family visit to Gettysburg and decided to tell the story of that battle as witnessed by its main combatants. The Killer Angels was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975.

In 1988, Shaara suffered a fatal heart attack, but his legacy lived on.  The film “Gettysburg” propelled The Killer Angels onto the New York Times Bestseller List, nineteen years after its publication.

Copies of the book are available to borrow in June at:

The Brookfield Library • 182 Whisconier Road (Route 25) • Brookfield
203-775-6241 • www.brookfieldlibrary.org

Danbury Library • 170 Main Street • Danbury
203-797-4505 • www.danburylibrary.org

New Fairfield Free Public Library • 2 Brush Hill Drive • New Fairfield
203-312-5679 • www.newfairfieldlibrary.org

New Milford Public Library • 24 Main Street • New Milford
860-355-1191 • www.biblio.org/newmilford

Sherman Library • 1 Sherman Center • Sherman
860-354-2455 • www.shermanlibrary.org

Book Discussion Dates

All community book discussions are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, July 5, 7:30 p.m.
Danbury Library

Wednesday, July 6, 6:30 p.m.
New Fairfield Free Public Library

Monday, July 11, 10:30 a.m.
Brookfield Senior Center, 100 Pocono Road

Friday, July 15,  7:30 p.m.
Sherman Library (meeting at Northrop House, 3 CT Route 37 Center)

Monday, July 18, 1:00 p.m.
The Brookfield Library

Tuesday, July 19, 6:30 p.m.
New Milford Public Library

Book Notes

Readers may find the following questions helpful as a way to approach
thinking about The Killer Angels.

Why is the Battle of Gettysburg considered “the turning point” in the war?

Did you feel that the author gave a balanced account of the battle? Was he more sympathetic to the South or the North?

What role does honor play?

How does the author compare men who fight for a cause and men who fight for glory?

How did you feel about the descriptions of some of the commanders? Pickett? Chamberlain? General Lee?

What do we learn about friendship between Union and Confederate officers?

Why wouldn’t Chamberlain shoot the mutineers from the old Second Maine?

How valuable was a man described as having “an eye for the good ground?”

What kind of man looked on war “as God’s greatest game?”

Why did Grant choose Chamberlain to have the honor of receiving the Southern surrender at Appomattox?

What role did the Englishman and the German play in highlighting the feelings of the European countries concerning the war?

Did you think the battle scenes were well drawn? Was it clear to you how the troop movements were made and the importance of the high ground?

Did you feel that Shaara conveyed the extent of the loss of life that was suffered by both sides at this battle?

What other books about the Civil War have you read and how do they compare? “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier, “Coal Black Horse” by Robert Olmstead, “March” by Geraldine Brooks or “The March” by E.L. Doctorow.

What did you learn about the Civil War in High School? Did this book add to that knowledge or bring a different slant to your understanding of the events at Gettysburg?

How did you feel about the ending? Yes, the battle ended but did you want to know more. Did this book help you understand why Lincoln was able to write the Gettysburg Address?

These questions are generously provided by the Framingham Public Library, Framingham, Massachusetts, “Framingham Reads Together.”