Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reflections: Gods and Generals

Sarah J. Zern opines on Jeff Shaara's Gods and Generals:

"The Civil War was always a topic that my father took great pride in teaching to his children.  One of our ancestors, General Joseph E. Johnston, played a fairly important role in the Confederacy, and so discussing the war has a very special place in my family’s hearts.  Because of my family’s roots in the Confederate Army and growing up in the South, I was always taught about the “real” reasons that the Southern States went to war against the North.  As I started to read Gods and Generals, I found that these reasons were very fairly voiced, and so I instantly became very intrigued with how the author would treat the historical events of the bloodiest war that America has ever seen.

This book follows four main characters, two of which join the Union Army, and two of which join the Confederacy.  The author did an excellent job of giving a detailed and very humanistic background of each of these men.  I was emotionally attached to each the more I read about them, and had a greater understanding about why each of them decided to join the side of the war that they did.  All were men who did not believe in slavery, the topic that is most credited with beginning the Civil War, yet they were divided as to which cause they supported due to so many factors.  I thought that the author was extremely fair and respectful as he discussed each of these great men.  I never felt any bias one way or another from the author, which was incredibly refreshing.

This book takes the reader from the days leading up to the Civil War all the way to the Battle of Gettysburg, which is covered in the next book of the trilogy The Killer Angels.  Because I so enjoyed the accurate and emotional way in which the author writes about history, I immediately picked up the next book in the trilogy so that I could see what happens to the men so reverently spoken of in Gods and Generals.  This is undoubtedly one of the best books I have read this year."

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