I am very unsure of how to review this book. I did not enjoy it, which is why it took me pretty much all of 2013 to finish it (plus a little of 2014). I struggled through and only found myself truly captivated in the last four chapters or so. However, I am glad I read it because in some way, I feel like those few chapters made the rest of the book worth struggling through. I have been meaning to read this for almost as long as I can remember because it's a novel that has always been on my mother's shelf. The movie "Gettysburg" is based on this book and having seen the movie, it was kind of fun to read and see the movie in my mind during certain parts. It's almost word-for-word. Because of that, I think the novel is actually a better screenplay. The writing is very choppy and Shaara's style is very fragmented. Most of all, I don't like that he gives personalities to actual characters from history. Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres, but in my opinion, Shaara took it a little too far. The research he did and the accuracy of his re-telling of the events at Gettysburg are, unarguably, phenomenal. I just don't like the characterization because no one can really know what Robert E. Lee was like or what Joshua Chamberlain was thinking during the attack at Little Round Top. A little characterization is necessary, of course, but The Killer Angels takes it to a whole new level.
After having said all of that, I will repeat myself. I'm glad I read it. If nothing else, reading this novel gave me a better appreciation for what the men who fought at Gettysburg must have experienced and what they must have witnessed in just a few short days. I can't imagine living through that horror and reading about it made me want to visit those historical sites again. More than anything, I want to stand on Cemetery Ridge and look out across those fields. The Killer Angels may not have been the best way to learn about the bloodiest battle in our nation's history, but regardless, I learned. And now have the desire to learn more and see more. I love America and I am grateful that we are a nation not divided into North and South. We have those men to thank for it!