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Gods and Generals (The Civil War Trilogy #1)

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  22,025 ratings  ·  489 reviews
In a prequel of sorts to his father Michael Shaara's 1974 epic novel The Killer Angels, Jeff Shaara explores the lives of Generals Lee, Hancock, Jackson and Chamberlain as the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg approaches.

Shaara captures the disillusionment of both Lee and Hancock early in their careers, Lee's conflict with loyalty, Jackson's overwhelming Christian ethic and Ch
Paperback, 498 pages
Published 2000 by Birlinn (first published January 1st 1996)
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The Killer Angels by Michael ShaaraGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBattle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPhersonCold Mountain by Charles FrazierThe Civil War by Shelby Foote
Best Civil War Books
8th out of 569 books — 642 voters
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueCatch-22 by Joseph HellerSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
Best War Novels
61st out of 655 books — 650 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jun 03, 2010 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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??
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
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
Matthew Hodge
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 5 of 5 stars
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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
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.
Blain Dillard
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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
I really enjoy historical novels and this was no exception. I enjoyed getting to know more about the men who fought this tragic war. I knew that that the Union army could and should have won the war much much earlier than they did but until reading this book, I wasn't quite aware exactly how cautious and often idiotic the numerous leaders of the army were. I was struck with the great emotion and conviction with which the southern soldiers fought. They weren't fighting to keep slavery - they were ...more
I am a big fan of military histories - fact and fiction. For years my biggest gap was the American Civil War (War Between the States). I cannot tell you why this so because I do not know why. A friend, who is a big Civil war buff, finally shamed me into reading about it. My first venture was JEFF SHAARA's bestselling GODS AND GENERALS (ISBN 978-0345422477, paperback, $7.99).

In 1974 Jeff's father, MICHAEL SHAARA had his bestselling, Pulitzer Prize winning novel THE KILLER ANGELS, published. It w
A well written book chronicling the lives of four men; Robert E. Lee, Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson, Winfield Scot Hancock, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain,from prior to the Civil War through their involvement in the war up until the South's victory at Chancellorsville, VA. The Southern generals were an inspiration to their men and clearly thought God was on their side. The author tells about the failures of the Northern commanding generals, McClellan, Burnside, Pope, to be able to size up their si ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Thad rated it 4 of 5 stars
Gods and Generals: Review
We all have preconceptions about the justification of the Civil War. Gods and Generals is a historical fiction novel by Jeff Shaara about the Civil War which caused me to examine those thoughts. This story was written as a prologue to the book Killer Angels, which was written by his father Michael Shaara.
Gods and Generals takes place all over America, from Washington D.C to San Francisco, California. The story begins a few years before the war, with tensions growing b
This book is about the civil war and different military generals in the war. It goes thru the beginning of the war, the generals positions, history, and view points in the battles of the war. General lee was a great military mind before the war, born in Virginia and a farm raised boy, he went to west point and graduated the 2nd in his class. He was a brilliant military mind and Lee was proud to serve his country’s military. As the nation broke into two sides, lee was split as well. To stay in hi ...more
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  • The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War
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  • Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg: General Joshua L. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine
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  • Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam
  • Rebel (The Starbuck Chronicles, #1)
  • They Met at Gettysburg
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 Last Full Measure

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“And so, pointing fingers become pointing guns, because nobody listens to fingers.” 17 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.” 9 likes
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