woensdag 3 mei 2017

The Killer Angels - Michael Shaara

No, I don`t read a whole book in one day, I usually am reading two seperate ones at one go, one on public transportation, and one at home.  So every so often it happens I finish both of them the same day.

This book, predating me by half a decennia, is the classic work for all those who love the American Civil War, as it was made into that certain movie: Gettysburg.

Using a fantastic POV writing style, mostly from the "main actors" Longstreet and Chamberlain, but also the Union unsung hero of day 1, Buford, or "supporting characters" like Armistead, it offers a tremendous insight into the events that lead to the defeat that turned the war.

Upon then, the Confederate army of Northern Virginia, led by Robert E. Lee, had amassed the successes.  The Army of the Potomac, now under command of Meade for a week, has been suffering defeat and command issues since day 1.  But a series of very unlikely circumstances made this battle the turning point.

The disappearance of Stuart left the Confederate force blind to enemy strengths.  Buford, arriving barely hours before the southern force who picks the best ground, and his cavalrymen managing to hold on to it until the full northern army arrives.  Little Round Top, where the Union line held from being overturned thanks to Chamberlain's 20th Maine, boosted by deserters from the now defunct 2nd Maine, but roused to take arms up again thanks to the colonel`s speech.  And of course the infamous, but doomed from the moment Lee made up the plan, Pickett's Charge.

The Confederate losses ran so high the army never really recovered from it, and history could have been very, very different had Lee followed Longstreet's plan to bypass the ridges around town and move to Washington instead, fighting the defensive battle instead of making the last "Napoleonic charge" Lee ever ordered.

It`s fantastically written, and really immerses one into that infamous first july weekend of 1863...

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