Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gods and Generals” as Want to Read:
Gods and Generals
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Gods and Generals (The Civil War Trilogy #1)

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  25,125 Ratings  ·  540 Reviews
The New York Times bestselling prequel to the Pulitzer Prize–winning classic The Killer Angels

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 b
ebook, 512 pages
Published October 5th 2000 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gods and Generals, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Gods and Generals

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 03, 2010 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a faint background in Civil War history
Recommended to Lauren by: My Sister and Pastor
I love how Jeff Shaara writes. It takes some getting used to, yes, but once you get used to it...Brilliant! Outstanding!!!!!! I especially love how he focuses on the army, barely touches the political side of the war-and when the political side is touched, it's mostly negative.

I'd never thought to deeply about the Civil war until this school year. Now, with this book coming to top off my school year, I must say
history is a whole lot more complicated then I thought.

The story begins in 1858 (57??
Nov 25, 2011 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
This book could be considered the prequel to THE KILLER ANGELS (reviewed separately), written by Mr. Shaara’s father. This book takes a unique perspective leading up to the Civil War, introducing us to the notable historical figures in that confrontation. Mr. Shaara shares with the reader, through excellent characterization and dialogue why the Civil war was so important to these men. The author manages to bring to life the years leading up to the Civil War. Seemingly historically accurate, this ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Mom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really don't know what happened with Jeff Shaara from this book to his second attempt, The Last Full Measure, but I enjoyed this book more. There is still the rambling on, and the writing still has the same irritating problems, but not to the same extent as Measure. I still enjoy the historic events told in a comprehensible way; it fulfills my need to understand the order in which things happened. I must say, I could not read two pages where he goes on about the death of General Jackson, it is ...more
Oct 17, 2015 Gaga rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like historical fiction and picked up this book for that reason. However, it seems less like fiction and more like military history. This book seemed to me to be endless descriptions of what every general on both sides was doing during the Civil War--and not the whole Civil War, but just until 1863. This is the first book by either of the Shaaras that I have read, and I won't read another. Obviously, I didn't know what I was getting into because I know he is very well regarded by many people.
Matthew Hodge
Apr 06, 2014 Matthew Hodge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, hard-copy
The first in the epic father/son Civil War trilogy (the next one is The Killer Angels by Jeff's father Michael Shaara, followed by Jeff's sequel The Last Full Measure). This was Jeff's first book, and it must have been intimidating writing a prequel to his father's book, which had won the Pulitzer prize and been made into the astonishingly good film, Gettysburg.

But Jeff rose to the challenge admirably and delivered a book similar in tone to his father's and carefully maintaining the air of trage
Oct 08, 2009 Cam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I have read some really great books in the past year or two(Memoirs of a Geisha, The Kite Runner, Seabiscuit)- and this book definitely joins the list. It was so well written and interesting. It's about the civil war- it's quite thick and I thought it might be boring, but it was a page turner. I felt so connected to all of the characters, and I found myself really conflicted on whether I wanted the Union or the confederates to win the war- the book presented the generals as real people, so it di ...more
Dec 06, 2007 Michal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in the Civil War.
When my history professor gave me a list of books to choose from to read for his Civil War class, I chose this one on impulse. I came into the novel with very little knowledge about the events recorded in the book, but Jeff Sharra brought it to life for me.
All too often, the Southern soldiers are depicted as uneducated brutes who hated slaves. While I'm sure that was true of some, Sharra portrays the Southern Generals as fighting for their homeland, for their families, and as unwilling to turn
May 12, 2010 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There is very little I can say about this book that hasn't already been said. It seems a rather polarizing read with people either really liking it or really hating it. Unfortunately for me I fall into the latter category.
The book is just ok...considering the subject matter at hand it should have been great. By confining himself to copying his father's style, the book never flows, drama never builds, characters are never rounded out.
Switching from one character's point of view to anothers can be
Apr 11, 2007 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Civil War & Historical Fiction enthusiasts
Shelves: fiction
The author's father was named Michael Shaara and wrote "The Killer Angels" which was a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that was made into the movie "Gettysburg". The son, Jeff Shaara, copied his father's unique writing style but did not do it justice. Admittedly, "The Killer Angels" is a historical fiction novel that covers 3 days while the son had to cover several years of the Civil War. This was not easy for that writing style. Still the book is an acceptable prequal to the "Killer Angels" if you ...more
Jeff Shaara simply could not pull off what his father accomplished. I'm sure Mr. Shaara is a smart historian of sorts, but as a writer it just doesn't give the proper payload. Perhaps he simply tried to cram too much in the lead-up to the Battle at Gettysburg, unlike his father who concentrated all of his attention and efforts on just those three historic days? Either way, the writing is simply annoying (too many "..."s throughout), and the only thing interesting is the sprinkling of Jeff Shaara ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Tom rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Corny dialogue, very stilted. This book and the series of three novels about the Civil War was highly recommended, so I was very disappointed.I couldn't even finish it. I remembered why I really dislike so many historical novels--they try too hard and sound like a low budget movie.
David Jarrett
Oct 11, 2014 David Jarrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a terrific read for anyone interested in the history of the American Civil War but not interested in reading a textbook about it. Told from alternating points of view of four general officers, two from the south and two from the north, the book shows how the bungling of politicians and generals led to the horrific loss of both Union and Confederate soldiers' lives and limbs during the worst war this country has ever experienced. The narration is detailed, sometimes pedantic enough t ...more
Jan 30, 2015 Brittany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting approach to historical writing, and a new view of the Civil War for me. Normally, I think about the Civil War in terms of politics, Lincoln, slavery, Confederates, Yankees, etc. This was the first time I even had a chance to consider tactics and war effort, because American history in the public school system simply doesn't teach it that way. I don't think I particularly enjoyed it, but I did open my history thinking box to possibilities and modern comparisons I wouldn't have otherwi ...more
Riley Feldmann
Apr 25, 2016 Riley Feldmann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a conflict that irrevocably changed the fate of the United States as we know it today, the Civil War is often stuck in the back of society's mind outside of an abnormally tall hat and some sort of "Proclamation". That's a bit of hyperbole, of course, but too often the Civil War can come off like any other piece of history if not approached correctly: it seems old, dry, lifeless, and devoid of personality.

It is that bankruptcy in treatment that makes Jeff Shaara's Gods and Generals such a ple
Blain Dillard
Feb 03, 2015 Blain Dillard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I read Gods and Generals mainly because it was the prequel for the book I really wanted to read (eventually) : Killer Angels. G&G was a good read, though I sometimes got lost in the extended battle scene details. I did thoroughly enjoy the character building done for the generals, especially Lee, Jackson, Stuart, Hancock, and Chamberlain.

I always learn a lot when I read historical fiction. And this was no different. I never realized how poorly executed the Civil War was at times, and how po
Timothy Riley
This was a fairly lame book. I think it didn't require much more than Junior year of college level research. It was not very riveting. Without looking into it, I believe the author is pretty much a confederate apologist. He idolizes men like Lee, Jackson and Longstreet. His descriptions of them are glowing; they are the heroes while the union generals are buffoons and the union fighting men victims of inept leadership-that last part is fairly accurate. I know that a story like this should not ta ...more
Benjamin Thomas
I’ve read quite a few Jeff Shaara novels but never his first one. Most readers will know that Jeff’s father Michael Shaara wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning The Killer Angels (a book among my all-time top 10 – all genres). Upon Michaels’ death, Jeff took up the mantle and began his writing career by offering this “prequel” to that famous novel.

“Gods and Generals” tells the story of the first years of the American Civil War through the points of view of four key individuals: Robert E. Lee, Thomas
Jan 29, 2012 Pegg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This one rivals his father's book, "The Killer Angels". If you like Civil War history at all, if you enjoy historical fiction at all, if you just like a good book... read this one!

The story centers around four main characters; Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and Winfield Hancock. I've read several biographies of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and I believe Jeff Shaara did a fantastic job of capturing the personalities of these men. While fiction (because
Apr 29, 2010 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love American History, but I had a really hard time getting into this book. Sometimes I really enjoy switching point of view between different characters, but I struggled with it in this book. Every time I began to feel connected to one of the characters, I would have to readjust when the story was yanked away to a different location.

I think epic stories covering great distance and a long time period are difficult to write. I felt that this book was accurate in its character portrayals, but it
Dec 05, 2012 Stephen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love Civil War stories, but thought this one was just stupid. Yes, this is a novel, but it's written with all the dryness of a paper towel and there was no humor or humanity. The people in the book are ostensibly real and are presented as such. And yes, we do know what they're thinking more than you would if this were a non-fiction book. However, the text is dry and the stories are boring. I wanted to like this book, but after just having finished the North & South trilogy, this dry tale o ...more
I grabbed this off the shelf at the truck stop to listen to in the car going up to Utah this past weekend. I really liked the book, The Killer Angels by this author's father, Michael Shaara, which is about the Battle of Gettysburg. This is a prequel, about the background of the leading military figures on both the Union and the Confederate sides in the American Civil War.
Oct 11, 2016 Cameron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know nothing about the civil war, and it made this book fascinating. I got to enjoy the suspense of every battle and loved getting into the lives of the generals. I've been trying to start studying the civil war and this was a great way to start. Very well researched and written historical fiction.
Oct 12, 2008 Dave rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book barely rates an "ok" which is better than movie of the same name. The surprise of this is that this book was borne out of Jeff's attempt to write a screenplay sequel for the movie Gettysburg that was created from his father's original book. Jeff attempts to mimic his dad's style in a book that involves 3+ years instead of 3+ days. For this reason alone it doesn't work. The gaps in the narrative can best be described as "Swiss Cheese". The pre-war chapters of Hancock and "Lo" Armistead a ...more
Jan 27, 2015 Jean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the beginning of this historical novel a lot.

I was surprised to learn how loyal Robert E. Lee was to the Union. It was his loyalty to his home state of Virginia that caused him to embrace the rebel cause.

When the Civil War actually started, and other generals were introduced in addition to the four who were described in alternating chapters in the first third of the novel, I got confused and lost interest. I think someone who loves American history or has a good knowledge of the Civi
Lynn Green
Jun 09, 2013 Lynn Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeff Shaara uses the formula used so successfully in Killer Angels, an historical novel about the Civil War battle of Gettysburg, in Gods and Generals which covers the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. Each chapter focuses on one of the major figures in these conflicts including Lee, Jackson, Winfield Scott Hancock, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and others.

I appreciated Shaara's in-depth research which matches that of his father's book. The characters are complex and nua
Apr 16, 2009 Chloé rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like The Killer Angels, this book is very good at revealing the personal struggles and thoughts of some leading figures in the Civil War. It's engaging, informative, and a must read for anyone with an interest with history. However, I much preferred his father's book, The Killer Angels. Perhaps a comparison is a bit unfair due to the timespan, but this type of book seemed to work better with three days instead of three years. And I liked Michael Shaara's style a bit better, though they are simil ...more
Hank Pharis
A novelistic recounting of the story of Robert E. Lee, Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson, Winifield Scott Hancock,
and Joshua Chamberlain leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg. Well written and enjoyable!
Jan 10, 2014 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This books really puts a human face on the civil war. I found my self rallying for both the blue and gray...kind of an odd experience. This book takes you into the field and around the strategy tables. This and Shaara's other books are full of inspiring leadership lessons. It has been a while since I found myself struggling to put the book down but with God's and Generals, it was a battle! Excited to read the next book Killer Angels by his dad which covers the battle of Gettysburg.
Of the three in the "father-son trilogy," this one ranks lowest, in my opinion, but that doesn't mean it's not any good. Shaara, the son, covers a lot of material, beginning the novel well before war breaks out, showing how the men who served together make the decisions that transform their friends into the enemy they must face on the battlefield. Although not as personal as The Killer Angels, the style of telling the story through the eyes of the participants is still an effective way to touch ...more
Sep 28, 2016 Kacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life, Death, Gods and Generals

General Stonewall Jackson once said “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees”(pg.482) bravery, courage, and doing the right thing is a hard thing to do when you are fighting for your life because being in the civil war in 1863 is not an easy thing to win. Gods and Generals is a true novel about the civil war. The author Jeff Shaara brought every character to life with his word choice and his way of putting them. This book is perfectly told
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Battle of Fredericksburg 5 27 Feb 08, 2013 05:27PM  
the book 1 18 Oct 04, 2012 02:59PM  
  • Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant: The Final Victory (Gettysburg, #3)
  • Shiloh
  • The Killer Angels (The Civil War Trilogy, #2)
  • Look Away (U.S. Civil War, #1)
  • The Bloody Ground (The Starbuck Chronicles, #4)
  • Terrible Swift Sword: The Centennial History of the Civil War Series, Volume 2
  • Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend
  • Cain at Gettysburg
  • Gettysburg
  • Lee
  • From Manassas To Appomattox
  • The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy
Jeff Shaara, a descendant of Italian immigrants, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey ("Shaara" was originally spelled "Sciarra"). He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Criminology. From age 16, Jeff operated a rare coin business, first out of his home, then in a retail store. After moving to Tampa, Jeff became one of the most widely know ...more
More about Jeff Shaara...

Other Books in the Series

The Civil War Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Killer Angels (The Civil War Trilogy, #2)
  • The Last Full Measure (The Civil War Trilogy, #3)

Share This Book

“And so, pointing fingers become pointing guns, because nobody listens to fingers.” 20 likes
“Major, I do not know why God does the things He does, but I believe you have the same duty to God as you have always had: to follow the right path, to live your life with a clear conscience.” 12 likes
More quotes…