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The story of Gods and Generals begins with Michael Shaara, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic The Killer Angels. A native of New Jersey, Michael Shaara grew to be an adventurous young man: over the years, he found work as a sailor, a paratrooper, a policeman, and an English professor at Florida State University. In 1952, his son Jeff was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Michael's interest in Gettysburg was prompted by some letters written by his great-grandfather, who had been wounded at the great battle while serving with the 4th Georgia Infantry. In 1966, he took his family on a vacation to the battlefield and found himself moved.
In 1970, Michael Shaara returned to Gettysburg with his son Jeff. The pair crisscrossed the historic site, gathering detailed information for the father's novel-in-progress. In 1974, the novel was published with the title The Killer Angels. This gripping fictional account of the three bloody days at Gettysburg won Michael Shaara a Pulitzer Prize and a vast, appreciative audience. To date it has sold two million copies.
When Michael Shaara died in 1988, his son Jeff began to manage his literary estate. It was a legacy he knew well, having helped his father create it. When director Ron Maxwell filmed the movie Gettysburg, based on The Killer Angels, he asked Jeff to serve as a consultant. Maxwell encouraged Shaara to continue the story his father began; inspired, Jeff planned an ambitious trilogy, with The Killer Angels as the centerpiece, following the war from its origins to its end.
With Gods and Generals, Jeff Shaara gives fans of The Killer Angels everything they could have asked--an epic, brilliantly written saga that brings the nation's greatest conflict to life.
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In a prequel of sorts to his father Michael Shaara's 1974 epic novel The Killer Angels, Jeff Shaara explores the lives of Generals Lee, Hancock, Jackson and Chamberlain as the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg approaches. Shaara captures the disillusionment of both Lee and Hancock early in their careers, Lee's conflict with loyalty, Jackson's overwhelming Christian ethic and Chamberlain's total lack of experience, while illustrating how each compensated for shortcomings and failures when put to the test. The perspectives of the four men, particularly concerning the battles at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, make vivid the realities of war.From the Publisher:
I arrived at Ballantine shortly before then-publisher Clare Ferraro dropped a 1,200 page doorstop on my desk, practically causing it to bow in the middle. This was the original version of GODS AND GENERALS by Jeff Shaara. I quickly read THE KILLER ANGELS to get a feel for the subject, and then started plowing through G&G. After about 400 pages, Jeff began to find a comfortable style and method of telling the story of Lee, Hancock, Armistead, Chamberlain, Longstreet, and Stonewall Jackson before the battle of Gettysburg. And the book kept getting better. After beating out Turner Books (which has since gone out of business) for the right to publish GODS AND GENERALS, I met Jeff, and we began to get to work. He and I hit it off right from the beginning. Strangely enough, he was born exactly ten years to the day before my best friend, so perhaps it was in the stars that we would work well together.
The biggest challenge of editing GODS AND GENERALS was cutting it down. It was actually easier than one might think, because Jeff had made a typical first-time novelist's mistake--he started his story too early. When Jeff came into my office, he started out by saying "Now one thing we can't do is cut this manuscript . . . " After getting over the initial shock of my suggestion of cutting the first 400 pages of the book, within fifteen minutes he was completely turned around, saying, "We can't publish this book unless we cut the first 400 pages!"
Jeff had started writing about his characters in the Mexican War, and in the peacetime army of the 1850s. While the Mexican War chapters were exciting, they didn't belong in GODS AND GENERALS. And nothing happened in the 1850s, militarily speaking. So Jeff compressed a lot of information into a small number of pages, and begain GODS AND GENERALS in 1858, with Lee's return home to execute the estate of his late father-in-law, and then with John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry.
As an interesting footnote, Jeff's next book will be about the Mexican War. But I've already told him he can't recycle scenes from the 400 pages we cut. He's a much better writer now!
Doug Grad, Editor
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Book Description Random House Large Print, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110679758852
Book Description Random House Large Print. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0679758852 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1192192
Book Description Random House Large Print 1996-05-28, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. FAST SHIPPING*FREE TRACKING The pages of this book are clean and unmarked. Nice tight square corners. There is however from very slight shelf wear along the front edges. The spine is un-creased. Bookseller Inventory # 121453
Book Description Random House Large Print, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0679758852