Gods and Generals
Gods and Generals
A Novel of the Civil War
Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345404923, 512pp.
Publication Date: May 28, 1996
In this brilliantly written epic novel, Jeff Shaara traces the lives, passions, and careers of the great military leaders from the first gathering clouds of the Civil War. Here is Thomas Stonewall Jackson, a hopelessly by-the-book military instructor and devout Christian who becomes the greatest commander of the Civil War; Winfield Scott Hancock, a captain of quartermasters who quickly establishes himself as one of the finest leaders of the Union army; Joshua Chamberlain, who gives up his promising academic career and goes on to become one of the most heroic soldiers in American history; and Robert E. Lee, never believing until too late that a civil war would ever truly come to pass. Profound in its insights into the minds and hearts of those who fought in the war, "Gods and Generals" creates a vivid portrait of the soldiers, the battlefields, and the tumultuous times that forever shaped the nation.
"From the Trade Paperback edition.
Michael's interest in Gettysburg was prompted by some letters written by his great-grandfather, who had been wounded at the great battle while serving with the 4th Georgia Infantry. In 1966, he took his family on a vacation to the battlefield and found himself moved.
In 1970, Michael Shaara returned to Gettysburg with his son Jeff. The pair crisscrossed the historic site, gathering detailed information for the father's novel-in-progress. In 1974, the novel was published with the title The Killer Angels. This gripping fictional account of the three bloody days at Gettysburg won Michael Shaara a Pulitzer Prize and a vast, appreciative audience. To date it has sold two million copies.
When Michael Shaara died in 1988, his son Jeff began to manage his literary estate. It was a legacy he knew well, having helped his father create it. When director Ron Maxwell filmed the movie Gettysburg, based on The Killer Angels, he asked Jeff to serve as a consultant. Maxwell encouraged Shaara to continue the story his father began; inspired, Jeff planned an ambitious trilogy, with The Killer Angels as the centerpiece, following the war from its origins to its end.
With Gods and Generals, Jeff Shaara gives fans of The Killer Angels everything they could have asked--an epic, brilliantly written saga that bringsthe nation's greatest conflict to life.
Michael Shaara was teaching creative writing at Florida State University while writing The Rebel in Autumn. He'd already published most of his 44 short stories (mainly science fiction), and his first novel, The Broken Place, was published to great literary acclaim but few sales. Based on an event at Florida State, Rebel was written during the campus protests of the late 1960s. His agent began shopping the book in 1970, just a few short months before the Ohio National Guard shot into a crowd of student protesters at Kent State University, killing four, in an eerie echo of Rebel's climactic scene. And so the book never saw the light of day, although it is a beautifully written and artfully crafted novel. Shaara's next novel, The Killer Angels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975; it is a brilliant portrayal of the Battle of Gettysburg that was later made into the movie "Gettysburg" starring Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Sam Elliot among others. A heart attack killed Shaara in 1988 at the age of 59. His son, Jeff Shaara, has taken up where Michael Shaara left off with The Killer Angels, writing bestselling novels of the Civil War, Mexican War, WWI and WWII, enjoying the commercial success his father was never able to achieve.
“Powerful . . . Though the story of the Civil War has been told many times, this is the rare version that conveys what it must have felt like.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Compelling . . . a work of vivid drama and skill.”—The Dallas Morning News
“[Jeff] Shaara’s beautifully sensitive novel delves deeply in the empathetic realm of psycho-history, where enemies do not exist—just mortal men forced to make crucial decisions and survive on the same battlefield.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Historical detail and depth of character carry the book, which examines the viewpoints and vulnerabilities of one of the most fascinating collections of military minds ever assembled on a single battlefront.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Shaara has created human beings of the myths and cold facts.”—St. Petersburg Times