Synopses & Reviews
Bring back the pleasure of reading, read Jeff Shaara
in Large Print.
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The story of Gods and Generals begins with Michael Shaara, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic The Killer Angels. A native of New Jersey, Michael Shaara grew to be an adventurous young man: over the years, he found work as a sailor, a paratrooper, a policeman, and an English professor at Florida State University. In 1952, his son Jeff was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
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 brings the nation's greatest conflict to life.
Here is Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, a hopelessly by-the-book military instructor and devout Christian. His fierce exterior hides a compassionate soul that few - students and soldiers alike - will ever see, and he becomes the greatest commander of the Civil War. We follow Winfield Scott Hancock, a Captain of Quartermasters who is assigned command of a brigade of infantry, quickly establishing himself as one of the finest leaders in the Union army. Then there is Joshua Chamberlain, who gives up his promising academic career to volunteer for service in the new army, only to become one of the most heroic soldiers in American history. And here too is a brilliant portrait of the complex, aristocratic Robert E. Lee, who is faced with the agonizing decision of resigning from a distinguished thirty-year army career in order to defend his home, never believing until too late that a civil war would ever truly come to pass. As the war gathers momentum, Stonewall Jackson wins his reputation by a series of stinging victories over ineptly led Union forces. Lee, finally given command of the Confederate forces, recognizes that this strange, devout, and dangerous man is his greatest weapon. For a time, it truly seems as if God is on their side and that Lee will lead his army to final victory against overwhelming odds. Nowhere is this plainer than at the Battle of Fredericksburg, where, for the first time, all four men meet on the same field and experience the exhilaration and raw horror of battle from four very different points of view. But it is in the next great fight, the Battle of Chancellorsville, that Lee's brilliant strategy, and Jackson's supreme achievement, are overshadowed when Jackson ismortally wounded by his own men. This loss is the true turning point of the war. Lee now realizes that against the evergrowing numbers of Union forces, he can only win by a direct threat to Washington. So the battle-hardened armies of the Confederacy begin their fateful invasion of the North, toward an obscure crossroads in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg.
About the Author
Jeff Shaara was born in 1952 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University in 1974. For many years he was a dealer in rare coins but sold his Tampa, Florida, business in 1988 upon the death of his father, Michael Shaara.