Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A review of "The Killer Angels"

by Michael Shaara

I picked up The Killer Angels while visiting Gettysburg, this fall. It is a fictionalization of the Battle of Gettysburg, and a good novel to read in conjunction with that visit. It is written well, and does a lot to make the battle more than a set of dry facts and numbers.

The novel focuses pretty narrowly on what happened during the battle, specifically, and only devotes a few pages to discussions about the cause of the war. I would have liked more attention to be given to that broader context. Other than that, no complaints.

I will add that I am somewhat leery of reading fictionalizations of historical events; without expertise, you don't know which part is fiction and which is fact. There are some negative reviews at Amazon claiming that Shaara played fast and loose with historical facts; but I don't see any such criticisms at wiki. On the plus side, wiki claims that the novel "has also been cited by Joss Whedon as the original inspiration for his science fiction/Western hybrid series Firefly."

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