Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels: War and Loyalty

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The Killer Angels
Michael Shaara

In The Killer Angels, one of the ideas and themes that Michael Shaara expresses is that no matter how loyal you are to the cause of what you’re fighting for and the war that you are struggling through, you always have a much more stronger loyalistic feeling and connection toward the people that you love the most. An example of this is when Chamberlain uses his brother, Tom, to plug a gap in the brigade line during a particular moment of battle. After subconsciously putting his brother’s life in danger, Chamberlain, in the period of time in which the rest of the book covers, cannot believe he did such a thing and continuously reprimands himself for it. Here shows that he valued his brother’s life more than performing well in the war because it bothered him that he had risked his brother for the battle. He would not have cared if he had wanted the war over his own flesh and blood. Also, many times throughout, a plentiful amount of the officers on both sides are found reminiscing about their families, sometimes in the wake of a battle. As seen in the particular fight wherein Chamberlain goes to sleep, remembering a word that his wife had wrote in a letter to him. Another point that Shaara points out in his book is that there were differentiating views between the Union and the rebels on the cause of the war. The Union thought it was about slavery whereas the people from the south were fighting for their rights.

I found that I felt a strong agreement with Shaara on one particular opinion that he makes clear. Shaara asserts that the war would not have ended in defeat for the Confederacy if Robert E. Lee had listened to James Longstreet. Longstreet repeatedly suggests to Lee to move the troops around to the right and loop back behind the Union army to cut them off from Washington and attack from there. Lee refuses, turning down Longstreet each time. He will not listen to reason. Thinking that his way is the only way and no one...
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