Shaara takes an historical event-The Battle of Gettysburg-and writes about it in novel form, and the result is living the battle with the main charact...moreShaara takes an historical event-The Battle of Gettysburg-and writes about it in novel form, and the result is living the battle with the main characters. The characters were real people--Robert E.Lee, James "Pete" Longstreet, George Pickett, Lewis Armistead, Ambrose Powell Hill, Richard Ewell, Richard Brooke Garnett, J.E.B.Stuart, and Jubal Early--Confederate generals; General George Meade, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, John Buford, John Reynolds, and Winfield Scott Hancock--all Major Generals and all officers for the Union.
The story of the battle is told through their various points of view--the successes and the failures, as well as their personal struggles they must cope with while engaged in fighting. Lee is ill with heart disease; Longstreet still struggles with grief over the loss of three of his children in one week, due to an identified fever; Chamberlain missing his family in Maine and his realization he will do whatever it takes to win a battle--a realization he isn't comfortable with.
The Battle of Gettysburg lasted for three days in the suppressive heat and humidity of early July. it's one thing to read historical accounts about the battle; it's another to read about the battle as it unfolds and experiencing it from the point of view of the principal commanders involved--Chamberlain making a desperate decision when his men run out of ammunition and the Rebels are charging again in an effort to take Big Round Top--Longstreet arguing with Lee against Pickett's charge and being overruled--Armistead leading that disastrous charge in a last ditch attempt to break the Union lines--Lee's grief over the loss of men.
Recommended for readers of historical fiction and especially those with an interest in the Civil War. (less)