The Killer Angels

by Michael Shaara

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Is the novel The Killer Angels pro-Union or pro-Confederate?

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I do not think the novel is pro-Union or pro-Confederate. Michael Shaara does a good job of giving credit where credit is due, but he also takes care to point out the strengths and weaknesses of all parties. I believe the book is fair in its analysis of Gettysburg and the participants involved.

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I'm not sure my answer will help you with your essay, but I believe the late author Michael Shaara bent over backwards trying to maintain neutrality in telling his tale of the Battle of Gettysburg. While it is true that there are several more chapters focusing on the Confederate leaders than their Union counterparts, the difference is negligible. It is clear that Shaara has high regard for the leading players: Lee, Longstreet and Chamberlain, particularly. However, Shaara is quick to point out their weaknesses as well: Lee's stubborness and utter belief that his men cannot be defeated; Longstreet's defeatist attitude after he recognizes that Pickett's Charge cannot succeed; and Chamberlain's all too humane response to the men around him. I believe Shaara concentrates more on the Confederate leaders primarily because they are far more interesting. Lee is already a living legend in the South and feared throughout the North. His counterpart, George Meade, is an unknown quality with few known accomplishments under his belt. The focus on Pickett's generals (and specifically Armistead's relationship with the Union General Hancock) creates a great story that was not evident among the Union participants. However, Chamberlain may be the most deeply personalized character in the novel, and Shaara's finest literary moments comes in these chapters. Unlike many historical references which glorify the Confederacy's high water mark at Gettysburg, Shaara instead tells it like it was with an unbiased view rarely found in such books.

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