My husband, Jay, is also a book nut. Sometimes we read the same books – thrillers, for example. But generally our tastes don’t match. He loves the Civil War era and books about the American West/Frontier days. Recently he read a book that truly moved him and he just couldn’t get it out of his head. I suggested he write a review of the book to get his thoughts down on paper. I told him he could be a ‘guest blogger’ with his review. Here’s what he wrote:

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Gods and Generals

Jeff Shaara

Ballantine Books, 1996

My brother-in-law, Don, referred the book, Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.to me. It’s very good, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. But, when I found out it was a trilogy I decided to read them in chronological order.  One of my personal quirks is reading things in order wherever possible.   

In my research I discovered that the father, Michael Shaara, wrote the middle book (Killer Angels) first and died before he was able complete a total review of the Civil War. His son, Jeffery Shaara, wrote the other two books.  

Jeffery’s book, Gods and Generals. was from the period just prior to the Civil War forward to the battle of Gettysburg. Each chapter highlights a general. There is Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Winfield Scott Hancock, Joshua Chamberlain, Robert E. Lee and more. Because it’s a novel, the author could give his interpretation on their thoughts and feelings. He gives us the generals’ ideas about the war before it began and their inner turmoil moving forward. 

The story emphasizes the human struggle for the country on both sides of the Civil War.  The book explores the ideas of how men who were comrades in arms and personal friends could end up on the same battlefield with the objective of eliminating his friend. In a chapter about Robert E. Lee there is quote I liked. 

“As Lee had expected in the new Confederate Army the clash of egos, the struggle of ambitious men with private agendas, had rendered quick actions and smooth organization impossible.”  

The author of Gods and Generals turned out to be a strong recommendation for the balance of the three book series.  The writing gave me a visual picture of this war from a general’s point of view both north and south. I enjoyed this book immensely and was moved emotionally by the conflicts these men had to encounter.  

If you are going to read about the Civil War I would strongly suggest that you begin the journey reading Gods and Generals by Jeffery Shaara.  I also viewed the movie/dvd on this book (same title), which also helped me visualize the characters, and helped turn them into real people.

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