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Gods and Generals

(The Civil War Trilogy #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  32,785 ratings  ·  791 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 bec
...more
Mass Market Paperback, 512 pages
Published April 29th 1998 by Ballantine Books (first published May 28th 1996)
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Susan LaFollette I started with Gods and Generals, am almost done, and then going to Killer Angels. I think it should be read in order because each story leads up to t…moreI started with Gods and Generals, am almost done, and then going to Killer Angels. I think it should be read in order because each story leads up to the next. (less)
Nat Medlen It mentions this idea, it must to have any reliability in the historic genre. However, it does not stress this as a reason. It spends much more time l…moreIt mentions this idea, it must to have any reliability in the historic genre. However, it does not stress this as a reason. It spends much more time looking into the lives of many of the leaders. Some of the ones from the South fight for the cause of slavery, but some of them don't. Some of the ones from the North fight for the ideological point of view of ending slavery, while some of them simply fight as duty to their country or to preserve the Union. I hope that helps.(less)

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Ron
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those who may not know, Jeff Shaara is the son of Michael Shaara who wrote The Killer Angels. Without that great book, there would be no Gods and Generals, or the many other books Jeff has written since this first one.

Let me first talk about The Killer Angels. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1975, it did not receive the public recognition it deserved until after Michael Shaara’s death at age 50. That’s sad to me, because it is such a good book. The recognition finally came when the movie Ge
...more
Lauren
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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??
...more
Elizabeth Dragina
Dislike. A complete and total dislike. The description was good. The characters were good. The story line was fine. Just. Don't. Like. It.

That's all I have to say...........
...more
Glen
A Civil War book, fictionalizing several different sectors of society. Set mostly in the time it seemed possible the South would actually win the war.

Not bad, but I'm not entirely convinced of the historiosity.
...more
Sotiris Karaiskos
Seeking quality historical novels about the American Civil War, I came to this trilogy which, I see, is particularly popular. From the beginning, however, I was troubled by the order in which I should read them, if I should read them in chronological order, in the order they were written or based on their quality. Because I also read a historical book on the American Civil War I chose the chronological order and I think it was the best choice.

In the first chronological book of the series we are
...more
Nadia Awadi
I'm going to quote the words of Jason Mraz and say:

" I won't give up on us
God knows I'm tough enough
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it."


Well it turns out I'm not tough enough and this book wasn't worth it. Oh, and I'm totally giving up on us.

Rating: 2.75 stars

This book is the story of 4 generals (or maybe more. I seriously don't know) and what they went through during the Civil war.

Seems exciting enough.

The problem is I don't read historical fiction but this book was s
...more
Matthew Hodge
Apr 06, 2014 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
...more
Christine
Nov 24, 2011 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
Gaga
Oct 17, 2015 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. ...more
Rick Slane
Focus is on a few officers from both sides before Gettysburg.
Mom
Jul 23, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Tom
Apr 30, 2014 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. ...more
Anthony
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the reasons I’ve been reading this trilogy – starting with The Killer Angels – is to really be able to wrap my head around this war. I’ve always known that slavery was the root cause, but I couldn’t understand why the entire south would fight so HARD…. Just to keep slaves?? I mean, I can see why the wealthy southerners wanted to hang on to their free labor... But there had to be more to it.

Another book that I’ve read earlier in the year helped answer some of my questions: John Jake’s No
...more
Taryn
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unread-shelf
I read The Killer Angels over a decade ago and finally read the "son-written prequel" in Gods and Generals. Better late than never, right? But, in my experience, sometimes those books you've "always meant to read" come to you at just the right time. This was one of those.

Reading a book on the Civil War during an epidemic and divisive election year has been interesting. While I'm not comparing any of the things we're currently experiencing to the atrocity of slavery, the division, the confusion,
...more
Michal
Dec 03, 2007 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
...more
Tango Dancer
Jun 25, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was given to me by a good friend, who was so sure i would enjoy as he had. Sadly, I felt it did not live up to my expectations of a good book on the American Civil War.

Amongst the books many failings are: -

* A complete lack of any explanation of the causes of the war, or why the main characters chose to fight for which side. Slavery is dismissed with one character saying "It's gods will your a slave" with no further discussion. One character actually states he's fighting because he bel
...more
Cam
Oct 08, 2009 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
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
Mark
May 04, 2010 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
...more
Pat Camalliere
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this for the third time, as my book club selection. I still enjoyed it immensely and cried again when Stonewall Jackson died. I like how the Civil War is portrayed through the eyes of four commanders, two from the north and two from the south. Reading critically now as a published writer, it’s not without its faults. Point of view issues abound, some parts slow down for pages, the battle scenes are hard to follow, some of what is portrayed as fact appears contrived and overly emotional. The ...more
Rob
Apr 11, 2007 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
Alejandro
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
Jennifer Hughes
This was interesting enough to finish, but I didn't get into it as much as I was hoping to. It was interesting to read about the lead-up to the Civil War from the perspectives of several pivotol leaders of both North and South. I read "The Killer Angels," which was written some years earlier by Jeff Shaara's father, in college and enjoyed that one a lot more. ...more
Matt
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
Not completely bad. But dissapointing compared to Killer Angels.
David Eppenstein
All of Shaara's books are excellent and he is an author whose books I collect. While his books are technically not histories the history is incredibly accurate and readable. ...more
Evan Hays
Well, I started with The Killer Angels a couple of summers ago and then went back to this one. These are a perfect summer read for me because I start teaching the CW at the beginning of the year to my 8th graders. For such a high standard as his father's book was, Jeff Shaara deserves an awful lot of credit for this book. He easily could have written something that was just a weak attempt at copying at what his father had done, but he really does live up to his father's legacy. I'd say this book ...more
Dylan Snell
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Personal Response:
I enjoyed reading Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara. I enjoyed reading this book because each chapter was told from a different point of view on the same event that took place. I also enjoyed reading this book because it was about the American Civil War, which I enjoy learning about. There was a movie made based on the book, and now I want to see the movie. The book does get long and boring in the beginning and middle sections, but when the major battles begin, the book gets v
...more
Joe
Jan 27, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-civil-war
Good, but I didn't enjoy this one as much as his father's book, The Killer Angels. My guess is that if you read this one first, you will enjoy it more than I did, as I think The Killer Angels is far superior.

One of the reasons is that Michael Shaara's book covers one battle, at Gettysburg. Michael is able to take field notes, letters, battle reports, and other accounts and more easily put those words into the mouths of the likes of Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, Joshua Chamberlain, etc. Jeff t
...more
Mary Soon Lee
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, historical
Jeff Shaara is the son of Michael Shaara, who wrote the superb book "The Killer Angels" about the Battle of Gettysburg. "Gods and Generals" is a prequel to that book, covering the lead-up to the Civil War, plus the first two years of the war. The book adopts the same approach as "The Killer Angels," recounting events from the perspective of several key figures, in this case primarily Lee, Hancock, Jackson, and Chamberlain.

I found this a very good book, albeit grim reading. It is eloquent, engros
...more
Marsha Valance
Shaara has chosen four major figures of the Civil War (Generals Lee, Jackson, Hancock, and Chamberlain) and woven an excellent novel told from their individual viewpoints. The central person in each alternating chapter moves the story toward the bloody battles of the Wilderness and Chancellorsville, and finally to the eve of the Gettysburg campaign. The religious convictions of Lee and Jackson are contrasted with the equally strong beliefs of Hancock and Chamberlain against secession and the des ...more
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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

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)

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