Thursday, March 24, 2011

Entry Five: Final Thoughts

     I think that Shaara effectively captured the essence of the real battle in The Killer Angels. The last section I read was about Pickett's Charge which was the most significant event in the Battle of Gettysburg and provided myself, the reader, with a nice sense of closure. Overall, I was really impressed with the style of writing and the formatting of the novel. The chapters following officers and soldiers from both sides gave the book an interesting point of view, knowing what both sides do not. I was very satisfied with the way Shaara portrayed the characters throughout the novel, and developing them as the story went on. Although he strayed from some facts, Shaara illustrated this battle with creativity and interpreted historical facts to create personalities and full characters for his novel.  
    My view of this historical event has definitely been altered due to this book. At first I was skeptical because I thought that a 350 pages of Civil War was going to bore me, and at some parts it was close to it, but Shaara impressed me with this. I would say that along with a historical fiction novel, comes a good amount of research given that you are not an expert on the event. I think that this was my biggest concern in the beginning of this book because many times I had to look up events, facts, and generals/soldiers of armies.
    This was a really good book, although it was a little dry at points brought valuable information and a good sense of the battle. If you are a history buff I would definitely recommend this to you, if not I would say still give it a go.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Entry Four

    Shaara continues to amaze me with his writing style and although some parts are a little mundane, I am still excited to start the next section every week. I find it very interesting that a very significant character, General Stuart from the Confederation, has yet to make an appearance yet. On many occasions several Generals grumble about his absence and how he could have impacted many events. 
   This week I made a song as well as a Glogster. The song is based off of the movie Despicable Me's soundtrack. I felt that kind of summed up the Battle of Gettysburg because both armies were willing to do anything for a very significant victory.  The lyrics are in the video but some of the rhymes were a little bit of a stretch so I would like to explain those. In the last line of the first verse I say, "Geroge G Meade from Potomac River, he’s coming up here to stop the leavers," meaning that he is stopping the Confederate Army which is composed from the states that seceded(left). Lastly, the last line of the second verse I said, "This is the story that the USA wrote." I was playing off of the saying, "History is written by the victors," and saying that the USA won. My Glogster is titled The Killer Angels: Battle of Gettysburg and basically summarizes the battle as well as adding some interesting facts. Both of these creative elements were fun to make and while searching for things to mention in them, I found myself with a fuller knowledge of this battle.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Entry Three

         Shaara continues the book with the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. I liked this section, although it sometimes moved a little slow, it provided a deeper understanding of the characters and further developed them. One thing that surprised and delighted me was that the title, The Killer Angels, was derived from one of Chamberlain's poems. While on the battlefield Chamberlain remembered reciting a speech to his father and after hearing his father's reaction, went to school the next day to talk about: "Man, The Killer Angel." I kind of took this as for how wonderful man kind is, we are a murdering, viscous breed that will do anything for our survival. So it is a little ironic how Chamberlain and Shaara refers to us as "Killer Angels." Also the Union won the Battle of Gettysburg and although they saved the North (Angels) there were many casualties from the Confederates as well as from the Union (Killers).
     Later in the novel, Fremantle, the British army observer praises General Lee for his fighting tactics and brings up the fact that he is a member of the English Church, which caught me a little off guard. 
    I also find it interesting the different opinions and suggestions from the Confederate side and the utter disregard for them. And I wonder if Lee listened to these if it might've changed the outcome of this particular battle or the war. 
      Lastly, what I saw as the more organized, disciplined army, the Union started to disagree about who is in charge and in the heat of the moment pointed fingers and blamed all but themselves. This scene definitely shed some light on the fact that both armies were at points in the battle in a very panicked, chaotic state.
        General Lee's Retreat happens later in the novel, but I find this interesting given the fact that Longstreet is relentless in his persuasion of the General to swing the troops back and to block off Washington D.C., but Lee won't have any of it. If retreated with a full, healthy army I could only guess that this would prove beneficial for the Confederates and successfully be able to either capture the capital or take the Union army.
     On this note, given that the Confederate Army makes the right moves, the outcome of the war could have been very different, drastically altering our lives today. The video below is a trailer of a movie titled, The Confederate States of America. This movie shows us today the horrid reality of what life would be like and if one thing here or one thing there changed during the Civil War that we would not have the same lives that we do today. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Entry Two: Characters & Conflicts

          The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara introduces several characters in this first reading section. The main characters (with chapters following them), are The Spy, Colonel Chamberlain, General Buford, General James Longstreet, and General Robert E. Lee. These are very significant characters to the story but some may have just been used to shed light on sequences of events and on other characters that could come about later in the novel.
         The Spy, Gen. Longstreet, and Gen. Lee are all fighting for the Confederate Army, while Col. Chamberlain, Gen. Buford and the Union Army try to keep the Confederates out of the North. There are several conflicts so far both internal and external. First and foremost, the armies are fighting for their "states"(C.S.A./U.S.A.). In Chapter 2 when Colonel Chamberlain is presented with 120 disbanded soldiers and given the orders to execute them if they do not cooperate, he cannot pull himself to shooting them and understands that they do not want to fight anymore. He is struggling with himself and is trying to search deep inside of himself to find the answer to his predicament. Eventually all but 6 of those men join the Twentieth Maine Regiment. In Chapter 3, General Buford decides to take the high ground and protect it until Chamberlain comes with back-up, but he then is hesitant, questioning if Chamberlain will come in time. While back at the Confederate camp some poker players get upset with Luitenant Fremantle (British Army Observer) for saying that the war was over slaves. This is a common misconception and the fact that the soldiers were so offended surprised me. Lastly, one conflict that will last throughout the novel is between Gen. Robert E Lee and Gen. Longstreet. Longstreet keeps suggesting defensive tactics, and doesn't cease to try to sway the General even when his annoyance is very clear.
            One thing I am especially delighted about is how captivating the story is. Shaara takes the Civil War and then takes it one step further by following the main characters. Like I said earlier, the way the Confederate soldiers and general reacted to the assumption that the war was over slavery took me aback. I knew that the war was caused by several other things but the way the Confederates took it so personal really surprised me.
        I predict that Lee will keep denying the defensive tactics suggested by Longstreet and the Buford will struggle with holding off the Confederate Army. There will be many internal conflicts cause by trying to decide on to attack, retreat, and many other strategic maneuvers. Shaara will use the Third-Person Narrative to shed light on on thoughts, and feelings of characters throughout the novel.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Entry One: Introduction

        The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is a historical fiction novel based in the 1860's in the heat of the Civil War. The book follows many characters as the battle progresses including generals, colonels and a spy. Shaara has organized the book into four sections, and then into chapters, one for every relevant character's point of view. Although Shaara follows these characters, those chapters are not written in first person. Throughout the novel, Shaara includes several maps of the town/battlefields to further enhance the reader's understanding of the story. A little about the author: as well as writing historical fiction, he also writes science fiction and sports fiction.
      The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in July of 1863 and is often described of the turning point of the Civil War. There were about 50,000 casualties as a result of this gruesome battle. General Robert E. Lee led the Confederate Army while Gen. George Meade led the Union Army.
        I predict that Shaara won't have as much historical accuracy as one would like since he is writing from the perspective of spies, generals, and minor soldiers. Also I think that the author will interpret the personality and emotions differently than other historians/authors, giving you a fuller understanding of the battle.

Reading Schedule:

p. 3-96 3/4
p. 97-180 3/11
p. 181-274 3/18
p. 274-348 3/25