Thomas L. Kilpatrick (review date 1 May 1996)
SOURCE: A review of Gods and Generals, in Library Journal, Vol. 121, No. 8, May 1, 1996, p. 134.
[In the following review, Kilpatrick praises Shaara's depiction of the novel's four main protagonists, Generals Lee, Jackson, Hancock, and Chamberlain.]
In his 1974 epic novel, The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara focused on the Battle of Gettysburg and the four men—two Union, two Confederate—who led their men in bloody battle. Twenty-two years later [in Gods and Generals], Shaara's son follows the same four men—Lee, Jackson, Hancock, and Chamberlain—through the years leading up to that pivotal battle. Shaara captures Lee's and Hancock's disillusionment over their early careers, Lee's conflict in loyalties, Jackson's overwhelming Christian ethic, and Chamberlain's total lack of experience while illustrating how each compensated for shortcomings and failures when put to the test. The perspectives of the four men, particularly concerning the battles at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, make vivid the realities of war. Considered together, the two novels by father and son present a powerful portrait of the generals who won and lost the Civil War. Recommended for most libraries.