The History Book Club discussion

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AMERICAN CIVIL WAR > 10. KILLER ANGELS (HF) ~ SECTIONS - 1. CHAMBERLAIN + 2. LONGSTREET - (291 - 318) (03/08/10 - 03/14/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
This is the reading assignment for week ten - (March 8, 2010 to March 14, 2010)

Friday, July 3, 1863 — 1. Chamberlain (10 pages) 291 - 300 - Week Ten
Friday, July 3, 1863 — 2. Longstreet (19 pages) 300 - 318 - Week Ten

Hello Everyone,

Today we are continuing our historical fiction discussion on Killer Angels. This is the first historical fiction group selected book. We hope that the membership will participate.

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers.

This book was kicked off on January 4th.

This discussion will be led by assisting moderator of historical fiction - Elizabeth S.

We look forward to your participation. Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

Since we only started this book on January 4th, there is still time remaining to obtain the book and get started. This is a quick and fast paced book.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

This thread opens Monday, March 8th for discussion. This is a non spoiler thread.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara Michael Shaara


message 2: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments We begin Day Three with Chamberlain up a tree on Big Round Top where the 20th Maine is still the far left of the Union line. He and all his men are out of rations. You can feel Chamberlain’s fatigue in the words Shaara has written. Chamberlain faces guilt for using his brother, Tom, to plug a hole in the line during Day Two’s fighting. We learn about men who have been wounded and aren’t recovering, the worry about finding food and drinkable water. And then the good news that they will be replaced with another regiment and put in the “Safest place on the battlefield. Right smack dab in the center of the line. Very quiet there” (Page 300). There is a lot of significance to those words for us omniscient readers, since we know the plan Lee made at the end of the last chapter.

Our second chapter this week is Longstreet. Lee rides up in the early morning to explain his plan. And Longstreet argues again against an attack. He points out how many men the Union have entrenched on the hills, how the Union is in a near circle where they can quickly rush reinforcements to any position and the Confederates are strung out in a long line. Lee moves among the men, and Shaara describes how the men reverence him. Lee alters his plan a little to accommodate some of Longstreet’s arguments. First there will be a “massed artillery fire” and then Longstreet is to attack with the divisions of Pickett, Heth, and Pender. Should be 15,000 men. Longstreet says he does not believe 15,000 men could take that hill. Lee believes it will break the line. Longstreet explains the plan to the men who will lead the charge. And then they wait for the guns to do their work.


message 3: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments For the conference at the end of Longstreet's chapter this week, I recommend referring to the Confederate Order of Battle found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysbu...

It'll help you know which general is in charge of a division and which in charge of a brigade and who is in charge of who. Two of the divisions the Longstreet will send into battle are actually from Hill's Corps, not Longstreet's.


message 4: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Interesting note about historical accuracy in the Killer Angels:

In Chapter 1, Shaara makes his biggest departure from historical fact. He moves the Twentieth Maine from Big Round Top to a position in the center of the Union line, right where the Confederates attack the next day. But in fact, Chamberlain’s regiment was moved to a ridge just north of Little Round Top, three quarters of a mile south of the line’s center. Shaara makes this significant departure from history to show the Union perspective on Pickett’s Charge. Moving Chamberlain also heightens the novel’s drama by putting the Twentieth Maine once again in harm’s way. (From the SparkNotes.)

What do you think about an author taking such a license to change history? Does it bother you? Is it worth it?

My biggest question, i.e. "Would the story have been just as good without the altered history?", will have to wait until we discuss the later chapters.


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 08, 2010 12:37PM) (new)

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
It was great in the movie Gettysburg...created a lot of drama because the audience knew what was going to happen. But the problem is that the fiction becomes what people remember versus the historical facts. It bothers me but then again Shaara thought he could go the distance with Chamberlain and the Maine boys and in actuality he did just that.

I am not sure really...being from Maine originally that was one of the best parts in the movie for me (lol).

I read the book for the first time with all of you.


message 6: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments For the meaning of the French terms "pont au feu" (page 302) and "A feu d'enfer", please see Frank's great explanation in message 18 of last week's thread.

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...

Here's a copy of the significant paragraph of Frank's message:

At any rate, according to WikiAnswers, pont au feu is literally "bridge of fire" (or in some cases "burning bridge"). In this case, it's a military tactic (so Lee did know at least a few) meaning a preliminary artillery bombardment to soften and demoralize the enemy's forces before sending your troops to charge the enemy.

The WikiAnswers for a feu d'enfer gives more detail here.


message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
By the way glad to have Frank here too.


message 8: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "It was great in the movie Gettysburg...created a lot of drama because the audience knew what was going to happen. But the problem is that the fiction becomes what people remember versus the histor..."

I think that is the biggest problem with historical fiction. Meaning the fact that things can be changed and people remember the change rather than the truth. That is part of the fun of reading historical fiction with a group dedicated to history. We get the feel of the time period through the fiction, and we can check up on the historical part.


message 9: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments What do you all think about Chamberlain's agonizing about "plugging" the hole with his brother? Is he stressed enough about it that it would affect future decisions? Does this take away from Chamberlain's effectiveness as a Colonel? It makes me wonder about close family serving together.

And then on the other hand, we've seen throughout the book that Tom has been a big support to Chamberlain. Surely some of Tom's effectiveness in helping his brother is because they are brothers and Tom knows him well enough help in the best way.

Seems like two sides of the coin to me. Do they balance? Should siblings be allowed to serve together?


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
My feeling is that there is such an emotional connection that it may cloud the ability to be realistic and sometimes also the ability to make those tough decisions.


message 11: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "My feeling is that there is such an emotional connection that it may cloud the ability to be realistic and sometimes also the ability to make those tough decisions."

Exactly. And yet you may fight harder knowing that your brother is right there.

Is there some rule about siblings or family members serving together in today's armed forces? I seem to remember in No Ordinary Time some reference to a situation where a ship was sunk with something like 4 brothers all on it, and so the navy started a policy that siblings couldn't be on the same ship. Or some such thing. Anyone know for sure?

No Ordinary Time Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin by Doris Kearns Goodwin Doris Kearns Goodwin


message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
This may answer some questions Elizabeth:

http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq7...


message 13: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Definitely what I was thinking of for the navy. How did you find it? It is one of those things where I don't even know what to search for. (smile) Thanks.


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 10, 2010 09:49PM) (new)

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
You are welcome...just a researcher at heart (smile).

Also, here is a letter sent by FDR and some other info not that pertinent to Killer Angels but you might be interested in it.

http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq7...

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara Michael Shaara


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