Courage and Heroism in the Battle of Gettysburg in “The Killer Angels”

“The Killer Angels” written by Michael Shaara in 1974, published by Ballantine Books, is a story showing the courage and heroism of people involved in the Battle of Gettysburg that took place in 1863. The novel presents the battle in an objective manner, and does not take sides when displaying the position of the two armies on the subject of slavery. It is an outstanding book and is worth reading due to the presence of real characters. In other words, the characters have been brought to life and the audience not only gets to learn about the battle itself, but also about the views and opinions of the participants.

One of the most interesting methods is how Shaara presents the narrative through the viewpoints of army personnel, which makes the events come to life. The results are well rounded characters, detailed imagery, and an objectivity that didn’t label either side as the hero. Michael Shaara first developed a passion for writing when he was in grade school. After graduation, Shaara joined the armed forces where he served as a paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne Division, a seaman, and police officer.

In 1951, he graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree and continued his educational process by engaging in some graduate work at Columbia University and the University of Vermont. After publishing many science fiction novels Shaara begin to take on larger project such as writing war novels. In The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, vivid imagery, details, and insightful character development reveal the differences between the Union army and the Confederacy. These two armies have different causes for fighting, but the main cause for the war is slavery.

This key issue sparked the war. The Confederacy is fighting for independence from the North, yet the Union is fighting for freedom and an end to slavery. The thesis of this novel in my opinion reads as, although we are soldiers that are highly trained and motivated war still is a constant struggle in our everyday lives and the lives of our families. War is never easy and we engage in this job for the loyalty, courage, selfless service, duty, honor, integrity and personal courage to stand and protect this place we call home.

The main point isn’t primarily focused on displaying the soldiers’ reasons for fighting the war, but Shaara wants to focus on the soldiers as individuals and how they cope with the stress of being in a war zone. At times, history books show the impact from such an objective point of view that the experience itself isn’t made easily understood by students or readers. Shaara gives life to the events and allows the audience to emotionally engage with individuals involved in it by the arrangement of his powerful words.

Providing us with a more personalized understanding of a war from which we are otherwise removed. The main values that Shaara personally incorporated was Selfless Service he took it upon himself to write at book specifically detailed to highlight a soldier’s point of view. Honor is another value outlined by Shaara the way that he states how the officers talk to the soldiers and explain how they can make a difference not only in the community that they live but in the world shows that both parties exhibit honor to be viewed as soldier whether union or confederate.

Personally, I agree with the thesis outlined by this author because you never read in the history books or gain an understanding of the aspects of the soldier, the strain that they undergo or the risks that they take that can impact their lives. They do all of this not by placing self first, but the welfare of you the people. I understand because being a soldier is not easy you not only impact your self but the love ones around you, it really does take one dedicated individual to engage in this job as a soldier.

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