Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • Gods and Generals
  • Written by Jeff Shaara
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780345422477
  • Our Price: $7.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Gods and Generals

Buy now from Random House

  • Gods and Generals
  • Written by Jeff Shaara
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780345409577
  • Our Price: $16.00
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Gods and Generals

Buy now from Random House

  • Gods and Generals
  • Written by Jeff Shaara
  • Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780345404923
  • Our Price: $30.00
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Gods and Generals

Buy now from Random House

  • Gods and Generals
  • Written by Jeff Shaara
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780345438492
  • Our Price: $7.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Gods and Generals

Buy now from Random House

  • Gods and Generals
  • Written by Jeff Shaara
    Read by Stephen Lang
  • Format: Abridged Audiobook Download | ISBN: 9780553756418
  • Our Price: $13.95
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Gods and Generals

Gods and Generals

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook
  • Audiobook

A Novel of the Civil War

Written by Jeff ShaaraAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jeff Shaara



eBook

List Price: $7.99

eBook

On Sale: October 05, 2000
Pages: 512 | ISBN: 978-0-345-43849-2
Published by : Ballantine Books Ballantine Group

Audio Editions

Read by Stephen Lang
On Sale: February 04, 2003
ISBN: 978-0-553-75641-8
More Info...
Listen to an excerpt
Visit RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO to learn more about audiobooks.


Gods and Generals Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Gods and Generals
  • Email this page - Gods and Generals
  • Print this page - Gods and Generals
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

The New York Times bestselling prequel to the Pulitzer Prize–winning classic The Killer Angels
 
In this brilliantly written epic novel, Jeff Shaara traces the lives, passions, and careers of the great military leaders from the first gathering clouds of the Civil War. Here is Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, a hopelessly by-the-book military instructor and devout Christian who becomes the greatest commander of the Civil War; Winfield Scott Hancock, a captain of quartermasters who quickly establishes himself as one of the finest leaders of the Union army; Joshua Chamberlain, who gives up his promising academic career and goes on to become one of the most heroic soldiers in American history; and Robert E. Lee, never believing until too late that a civil war would ever truly come to pass. Profound in its insights into the minds and hearts of those who fought in the war, Gods and Generals creates a vivid portrait of the soldiers, the battlefields, and the tumultuous times that forever shaped the nation.

Excerpt

Gods and Generals: Antietam/Sharpsburg

After Lee's victory at Bull Run, he took his men on a march into Maryland, drawing the Union army out of Virginia. But Union commander George McClellan captured Lee's plans; for once in his life he moved quickly to pin the Confederates down in the fields around the town of Sharpsburg, by Antietam Creek.

On September 17, 1862, the two armies clashed in the bloodiest day of the entire war. McClellan launched a series of uncoordinated attacks on Lee's outnumbered army. Joshua Chamberlain served in the Union army's reserve, waiting all day to be ordered into the bloody fight.


Excerpt
They reached a small village, Porterstown, and marched through wide streets, the townspeople standing in doorways, leaning out windows, some waving, others just staring. Farther ahead, on the creek itself, was the Middle Bridge, held by the Confederate division of Daniel Harvey Hill. The rebel forces were dug in, back, away from the creek, and to their front the Federal army was spreading out, into lines of attack, were crossing the creek and preparing for the assault. The battle had begun on the far right, just after dawn, and now, as the sun began to rise up behind them, Chamberlain could hear the steady rumble, and as they moved closer, the sharp sounds of single cannon. He sat high on his horse, moving along with the same slow rhythm of the march, but now the men did not fall out, did not feel the weight of the hot September morning, but stared to the front, marching steadily, closer to the sound of the guns.

He heard the steady clatter of muskets now, still off to the right of the road, to the northwest. The battle is not in front of us, he thought. Strange that we should move this way...not up there.

In front of them, Chamberlain saw a rise, a long, wide hill, and as they began to move up, he saw guns, rows of black cannon set into shallow, round depressions before the crest of the hill. Just then they began to fire, quick bursts of gray smoke, and a sudden shocking boom that startled him and his horse. He bounced around on the road, had to grab the horse hard to calm him. From over the hill he saw Ames, riding hard, past lines of troops that were moving away now, to the right, toward the sounds of the battle.

Ames reined up his horse, and Chamberlain saw he was sweating. "Colonel, we're here, right here. Keep the men in column lines. Let's move them out into this field. Wait for further orders. We are part of the reserve."

Chamberlain turned, and Ames rode past him, into the columns of men, and gave the command to the bugler. With the signal, the men moved quickly off the road. Then Ames rode up again, toward the front of the column, slowed his horse as he reached Chamberlain, said, "Colonel, keep them tight, keep them ready. I am to survey the field to our front."

Chamberlain watched him ride away, up the long hill, turning his horse to the side behind the rows of black cannon. The guns began to fire again, a loud and thunderous volley, and the hill became a great, thick fog bank.

He stayed on his horse, saw now across the road, on the left, vast numbers of troops, lines disappearing into a distant grove of trees, and the men not moving, keeping their formations. He rode out the other way, to the right, into the grass, saw more troops farther out that way, a great field of blue, waiting. He looked to his own men, saw the companies staying in their formations, coming off the road, and he rode up to the head of one column, saw Captain Spears of Company G, a small, sharp man who had also been a teacher. He had a narrow, thick beard, sat on a horse, watched Chamberlain approach, puffed on a large round pipe.

"Well, Colonel, do you think we will get our chance?"

Chamberlain looked back to the crest of the hill, could still not see through the smoke, and another volley thundered out, shaking the ground, startling his horse again.

"Whoa, easy...We'll see, Captain. Right now we must be ready...be ready to move forward on command!" He felt a little foolish, a vague order, felt again as if he were left out, didn't know what was happening. The battle sounds had continued to the northwest, and he wondered, Are they moving away, around us? He glanced at Spears, said, "I'll be right back...just going up the crest a ways, take a look maybe."

"We're right here, Colonel."

He turned the horse, then decided to dismount instead. This wasn't a parade. He jumped down, felt his belt, his pistol, began to walk toward the thick cloud of smoke.

The guns continued to fire, every minute or so, and he wondered, How far away is the enemy? There had been no explosions, no incoming shells, none of the sounds he'd been told about, coached about, by Ames, just the deadening thunder of their own big guns....

Now, from the sounds of the battle, he saw his first troops, thick lines of blue, uneven and ragged formations, moving toward a cornfield, and then smoke, solid lines of gray, and in a few seconds the sound reached him, the chattering musket fire, and the blue lines were in pieces, men moving back, some still advancing, some not moving at all. He saw more lines now, solid blocks of blue spreading wide, advancing, and more smoke, and more sounds, and then, farther away, a glimpse through the smoke, other lines of men, some moving, some firing, quick flashes of white and yellow, and the big guns beside him firing again....

He turned to watch the men working the cannon, and was startled to see more men, his men, watching the battle, lying on the ground, creating a neat blue patch on the hill. He had not thought anyone else would be up here, should not have been up here; he should not be up here, but he knew they could not just wait, could not sit behind some big hill and hear it all and not see.

Chamberlain stood up, began to wave his arms, fast and high, motioning to his men, and another blast came from the guns. He braced himself, did not fall, kept waving, back, move back, wondering if they saw him or were ignoring him. He moved along the hillside, tried to yell, but the sound of the guns took his voice away, and suddenly he heard a high, distant scream, louder now, whistling toward him, dropping down on him from behind. He turned, saw nothing, but the sound pierced his ears, and the ground suddenly flew high around him, dirt spraying him, knocking him down, and he lay still, shook his head...checked, all right, but...a bad day for the ears. Then another scream, overhead, and behind the hill, down where the rest of his men sat waiting, there was another explosion, and he tried to see, but it was beyond the crest.

Suddenly, someone had him under the arms, lifting him, and he said, "No, I'm all right," and he saw the face of an officer, a man with black crust under his eyes, around his mouth and nose, glaring at him with eyes of cold steel.

"You are bloody well not all right, you damned fool! Get these men back off this hill! You're drawing fire to my guns!"


From the Hardcover edition.
Jeff Shaara

About Jeff Shaara

Jeff Shaara - Gods and Generals

Photo © Laurie Lane

Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of The Steel Wave, The Rising Tide, To the Last Man, The Glorious Cause, Rise to Rebellion, and Gone for Soldiers, as well as Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure–two novels that complete the Civil War trilogy that began with his father’s Pulitzer Prize—winning classic The Killer Angels. Shaara was born into a family of Italian immigrants in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University. He lives in Gettysburg.
Praise

Praise

“Powerful . . . Though the story of the Civil War has been told many times, this is the rare version that conveys what it must have felt like.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Compelling . . . a work of vivid drama and skill.”—The Dallas Morning News

“[Jeff] Shaara’s beautifully sensitive novel delves deeply in the empathetic realm of psycho-history, where enemies do not exist—just mortal men forced to make crucial decisions and survive on the same battlefield.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Historical detail and depth of character carry the book, which examines the viewpoints and vulnerabilities of one of the most fascinating collections of military minds ever assembled on a single battlefront.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Shaara has created human beings of the myths and cold facts.”—St. Petersburg Times


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



ABOUT THIS BOOK

Introduction/Summary

From 1858, when the conflict between the states was just beginning to escalate, through 1863 and five years of fighting, the federal government under Presidents Buchanan and Lincoln had the ability to vanquish the rebellious Confederacy and bring the Civil War to a halt. Yet it repeatedly failed to do so. In battle after battle, the Confederate troops succeeded in forcing back the Union Army. How could 50,000 underfed, undersupplied soldiers prevail against a well-prepared, well-equipped force of 150,000? This is the question that haunts Gods and Generals, Jeff Shaara's moving novel of the early years of the Civil War.

A prequel to his father's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Killer Angels, Gods and Generals depicts the deepening conflict as it splits the nation and erupts into war. Using a novelist's tools and the techniques of psychohistory, Shaara takes us inside the minds of the great military figures of the period--Robert E. Lee, Winfield S. Hancock, Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain--as well as those who served with them, allowing us to witness "the tragedies and successes of their personal lives and their experiences as soldiers." These experiences illustrate how, for five costly years, error and arrogance at the highest levels undermined the Union Army and set up the Confederacy for a victory it could never achieve.

Because Shaara takes no ideological sides but gives us human beings who are complex, flawed, and wrestling with their own truths, Gods and Generals deals only peripherally with the moral issue of slavery. It focuses instead on the waste of human life engendered by war, finds few villains, but celebrates those who live by their beliefs and carry on honorably, despite egotistical or inept superiors, the vicissitudes of chance, and the physical suffering of war.

Shaara has divided his novel into four parts. Chapters are headed by character, month, and year, with events moving chronologically. The alternation of points of view and the rapid onrushing of events sets an often breathtaking pace, and those unfamiliar with the facts of the period will be flooded with the quantity of detail that Shaara is able to encompass in each brief chapter.

Part I spans the period from November1858 through June l862. First we witness the peacetime return from Texas of a dispirited Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee, who must settle the estate of his father-in-law, grandson of Martha Washington. Lee is mired in sadness at the long absences from his ailing wife Mary and the children he hardly knows. He is bogged down with the details of the plantation, including complex questions of slave-holding, but most of all he regrets his lackluster career and his inability to tolerate the politics that would enable him to advance.

Next we are introduced to Jackson, a hero of the Mexican War, wracked with personal loss, the death of his former wife and child, the child of his second wife, the childhood loss of his mother. All of this he attributes, as he does all that occurs, to God's judgment. Jackson is deeply religious, verging on fanatic, a perfectionist, misplaced in the classroom at Virginia Military Institute where his students call him "Tom Fool." He appears to be a man thoroughly out of sorts with his life, except on the artillery field of V.M.I.

Then we see Chamberlain, wandering the Maine woods, a brilliant yet restless professor at Bowdoin College who is inexplicably dissatisfied with his recent accomplishments and wonders whether he should have attended West Point rather than become a scholar. And finally we find Hancock, with a fine wife and children, but professionally dissatisfied as quartermaster of a far outpost of Los Angeles, a hundred miles from the nearest military depot. All four men believe that real opportunity has passed them by.

The anti-slavery uprising led by John Brown at Harper's Ferry in November 1859 briefly delivers Lee and Jackson from their peacetime ennui. President Buchanan calls upon Lee to quell the insurrection, which he does with great skill and no loss of life. Jackson is then charged with containing the violent crowds at Charleston who threaten to interfere with Brown's execution.

Lee does not grasp the depth of the conflict brewing in the nation, however, and from September 1860 when he returns to his post at Fort Mason Texas, through April 1861 when Virginia secedes from the Union, Lee holds fast to the hope that the voice of reason will prevail and Virginia will remain neutral. Lee sides neither with "the radicals of the deep South" nor with the northerners who speak of "radical abolition," but when he is forced to make a choice, it is his loyalty to his home state that becomes the deciding factor. One month later, Lee is named Brigadier General by his former West Point classmate Jefferson Davis and assists in the transfer of all the Virginia troops into the Confederate forces.

Gods and Generals looks closely at the divisive nature of the Civil War in which friends and colleagues were often forced onto opposite sides. In California, Hancock's superiors, Majors Albert Johnston of Texas and Lewis Amistead of Virginia, join their home states and the Confederate cause. "'I do not believe we are a collection of independent states, but one nation,'" Hancock tells them as he prepares to report to Washington. Yet at a farewell party, he and Amistead are overcome by emotion, for they know they will never meet again. "I hope you will never...feel what this has cost me,'" Amistead tells him, "'If I ever...raise my hand...against you...may God strike me dead.'"

In September 1861, Hancock and his wife arrive in Washington. Rumors of "the savage rebel army...a general panic" have proven untrue. The city is tranquil. But there was real carnage at, Manassas, or Bull Run, where General McDowell accompanied by congressmen, dignitaries and carriages filled with brightly dressed women watched Union soldiers massacred by a determined Rebel army. The war is real, and it is not going to disappear as many northerners seem to believe, and it will give Hancock, Lee, Jackson, and Chamberlain a chance to fulfill their long-held ambitions.

Hancock's opportunity arises in September of 1861 when General McClellan promotes him from quartermaster and captain to Brigadier General. Hancock welcomes the opportunity to be a fighting soldier at last. But at the Battle of Williamsburg with General McClellan believing his army outnumbered and reluctant to attack, the command falls to General Sumner who, with inexplicable timidity, orders Hancock's advancing troops to retreat at a point when Hancock sees their position is still strong. "The plan came to him like a clear blue light, like a window opening in his brain." Appearing to retreat, Hancock wages a counterattack, losing only thirty men.

Shaara shows us the difficulty on both sides in the early days of the war, the clash of egos, the concern for reputation that made "quick actions and smooth organization impossible". But when Jefferson Davis appoints Lee Commander of the Army of the Confederacy, the south gains a key advantage, for Lee is a brilliant leader with a keen understanding of both tactics and strategy.

Part II begins in July 1862 as Lee organizes the independent southern troops into a confederacy and John Pope replaces an error-plagued General McClellan as commander of The Northern "Army of the Potomac." Meanwhile, Chamberlain leaves the safety of academic life, says farewell to his wife and children and joins the Union Army. Because of a lack of good officers and despite having no previous military training, he is appointed Lieutenant Colonel, second in command of the Twentieth Maine Regiment under Colonel Adelbert Ames.

By 1862 the Arlington estate of Lee's wife has been ransacked and is under federal control, his wife given safe conduct to Richmond by General McClellan; Lee laments his neglect of his family but believes that through this, God is allowing him to become "a better father" to his troops. Using General Pope's egotism to trap him, Lee plans the Manassas strategy that will sweep Pope's army from the field and send them into retreat. When a fall from his horse results in serious injury to both hands, the courageous Lee carries on, inspiring his troops with "the intangible sprit of the commander." He agonizes over his men's lack of food, uniforms which are "rags, barely strung together," then orders Jackson and Longstreet to Harper's Ferry where 12,000 Federal troops pose a danger to the Confederate flank.

In September 1862, after the Union suffers a second disaster at Manassas (Bull Run), General Pope is replaced. Confederate successes far out-number the Union's. But a chance interception of Lee's Special Order 191 gives McClellan advance knowledge that Jackson is headed for Harper's Ferry and Longstreet is moving north into Maryland.

On September 17, Hancock is stalled by a lack of orders from General Sumner. And though McClellan succeeds in turning back the invading Confederates at Antietam, he does not press his advantage, so no decisive victory results. The cost in lives is high. Chamberlain views the dead strewn over the battlefield and experiences a sudden wave of horror as he experiences the reality of war.

On September 19 Hancock articulates the Union problem: "They would have won this war by now if it weren't for the generals." By November, the Union Army is dispirited. No one talks of a quick end to the war. Gloom has taken over and soldiers speak of Lee's "mysterious power." McClellan is replaced as commander by General Ambrose Burnside, who many consider to be "as culpable as anyone else for the failures of Antietem."

Preparing for what will become The Battle of Fredericksburg, Hancock sees another disaster-in-the making. Between the two sides lies the Rappahannock River; Burnside has ordered pontoon bridges which do not arrive. "They would sit still again," Hancock realizes, "The great power of this army would be held up one more time because something went wrong." When Hancock explores the Rhappahannock, he sees a herd of cattle make its away across and promptly reports to General Couch that the river is shallow enough to ford. When Hancock and Couch report this to Burnside advising him to begin the crossing immediately, Burnside rejects the plan as too risky. He insists they must wait for the pontoons to arrive. It will be December before this happens, cold and late, and by then Lee's forces will be ready.

Part III opens the same morning with Lee surveying the terrain and speculating on the battle to come. The Union troops number nearly 120,000, Longstreet's only 40,000, but the Confederates have the good ground, above the river on Maryes Hieghts, and Jackson's forces are on their with way with 35,000 additional troops. Lee realizes that this will be the largest force he has yet commanded. He understands as well Burnside's plan of attack and waits patiently for the Union forces to cross the Rhappahannock.

In December, just before the battle, Jackson learns that his wife has borne a daughter, "You did not take her from me, Thank You," he prays.

Hancock learns of an additional Burnside blunder: he has ignored crucial information presented by General Sumner--a map that showed a deep canal cutting across the open field behind Fredericksburg, one that will be be a difficult obstacle for the Union forces, especially in the face of artillery fire. Burnside declares the map wrong, denying the existence of a canal. Hancock and Sumner are ordered to cross the river and take Maryes Heights. They know "it will be a bloody mess," but they are soldiers first, whose duty is to obey their superiors.

Jackson and Lee also realize Burnside's errors in advance, and Lee wonders if it might be "God's way of evening up the sides." As the battle rages Hancock watches his men dropping everywhere, "a vast carpet of blue...the canal filled with...bodies." Chamberlain uses dead soldiers as shelter against the attack and feels the waste, the tragedy. The retreating Union forces destroy the town of Fredericksburg in a barbaric display of frustration after a "bloody, stupid defeat."

Part IV spans the period between January and June of 1863 when Burnside is replaced by "Fighting Joe" Hooker who proves no less distinguished than he. Mud stymies Burnside's new plan, ground troops and wagons are mired in it, the assault is halted, the army ordered back to Falmouth, and the winter camps behind Fredericksburg. Jefferson Davis ignores Lee's plea for supplies for his "glorious fighting force" which is "slowly starving to death." And after suffering a heart attack, Lee quickly resumes command amid tributes of love and respect from his troops. Jackson befriends a five year old child, frolocking unashamedly with her, then grieves openly when she dies of Scarlet Fever. "A general cannot cry for his men," but this child's death galvanizes all the pent-up grief he has been carrying, the personal losses, the losses he has witnessed in battle. Even "Stonewall" Jackson is a man of feeling, Shaara shows us.

In April 1863 Chamberlain becomes Commander of the Twentieth Maine, and the new Union commander, Major General Joseph Hooker, has reorganized the Army into the corps system with individual units identified by insignia which boosts morale. Hooker moves the army quickly and efficiently into position around Chancellorsville, and his May 1 assault is a success, the rebels "have been pushed back to the edge of the open ground." But then, inexplicably, both Hancock's and Couch's divisions are ordered to withdraw. In a nightmarish repetition of the mistakes of his predecessors, Hooker pulls back, ordering his troops to dig defensive trenches. "He stopped believing in his own plan. He just ran out of nerve," Couch says.

Stonewall Jackson understands that Hooker is simply "waiting for us to take the fight to him." He takes full advantage and appears to withdraw then surprises the Union forces from the rear. Once again the Union Army is in chaos, and suffers a new defeat. But on the second of May, Jackson himself is shot by friendly fire, men of the Eighteenth North Carolina who will "carry this with them for the rest of their lives." General Jeb Stuart takes over Jackson's command and joins with Lee. Hooker is forced to retreat north to the Rappahannock River.

But the discrepancy between the troops is growing, barely 25,000 exhausted and underfed Confederates facing an army of nearly one hundred twenty thousand, many of whom have not yet seen action. And the following day the Union forces succeed in pushing back the Confederates . Stuart cannot get control of the battle that is being fought by small groups of men, many of whose officers are down. When Hooker's headquarters in Chancelorsville are attacked, Hooker himself is wounded. He transfers field command to Couch but orders his army to withdraw to "the safety of the river." The Union generals see that the order is folly and urge Couch to override it. As the order is carried out, Hancock grieves for his men who are running from an enemy they have defeated.

When Jackson learns who has shot him, he places no blame and ascribes his injury to "the war." We see his final days, as he moves in and out of a nightmarish reverie, is visited by his wife Anna and new baby and prayed for by his men. Ultimately, on May 10, Jackson dies. A great cry goes up from the men on that day: the Rebel yell.

With Hooker unable to take action, Lee left with a mere 40,000 troops, and Jefferson Davis fixated on the defense of Richmond, Lee realizes that the Confederates cannot keep fighting on their own ground, that the Union will be able to return with more men and more equipment "and eventually they will find a commander who understands...who is capable."

In June 1863 they find that commander in George Gordon Meade. Meanwhile, Lee awaits the arrival of Stuart's cavalry, which has been separated by an advancing column of Federal troops. He has "felt a dark hole, small but growing" as he senses his great mission "slipping away." The novel ends with an image of the Union Army making camp in preparation for the next battle amid "the peaceful farms and quiet streets of a town called Gettysburg."

DISCUSSION AND WRITING

Discussion and Comprehension

1. Why does Robert E. Lee continue to keep slaves on the Arlington estate if he "would be happy to allow them to leave"?

2. How do the religious beliefs of Lee, Jackson, and Hancock influence the way each one views the private and public events in their lives? What specific examples of this do we see in Gods and Generals?

3. If Hancock had been Commander how might his decisions have differed from the ones made by General Sumner at Williamsburg, McClellan at Antietam, and Burnside at Fredericksburg.? How might the war have been different as a result?

4. The Union soldiers have neither respect nor affection for their various commanding generals, and suffer from serious loss of morale. The Confederate soldiers, on the other hand, admire and love General Lee despite the hardships they must endure. What are the causes for this contrast in attitude?

5. Chamberlain is a professor who believes it is necessary to act on your principles. What principles lead Chamberlain to leave his college and volunteer for the Twentieth Maine? What kind of education does Chamberlain's experience in battle offer him? What kind of a military leader does he prove to be?

6. Hancock, Summers, and Couch all must follow orders that they know to be wrong, orders that result in the loss of thousands of lives. How do they justify this? How does history regard soldiers in later wars such as World War II and Vietnam who "just followed orders"? What are the moral questions that this raises?

7. How does Jackson take advantage of General Hooker's weakness to surprise the Union troops at Chancellorsville?

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

Activities and Composition

1. Before reading Gods and Generals, list everything you know about three of the following: Abraham Lincoln; Robert E. Lee; Stonewall Jackson; Winfield Hancock; Joshua Chamberlain. What is your view of each? After reading Gods and Generals, do the same.

2. In an informal essay, discuss the ways that Shaara's novel added to your knowledge of these three individuals. In what way has your view of them changed? What aspects of the novel contributed to this change?

3. Assume the identity of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and compose a lecture to be delivered at Bowdoin College on the nature and reality of war based on the experiences "you" have had as leader of The Twentieth Maine Regiment at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

4. "The Lost Chapters". Write brief chapters that might have appeared in Gods and Generals had the author chosen to include the following characters: Mira Hancock, Anna Jackson, Mary Lee. Select dates in the novel that would add to our understanding of the human dimensions of the story.

VOCABULARY

Vocabulary

loose cannon: (slang) person who speaks without restraint

martial law: temporary rule by the military

radicals: revolutionaries

abolition: elimination

confederation: alliance

brigade: a unit of soldiers comprising two or more regiments led by a brigadier general

insignia: emblem

barbarism: brutality, savagery

artillery: troops armed with large caliber weapons

volley: burst of gunfire, barrage

pontoon: flat-bottomed boat used as support for a temporary military bridge

ford: to cross

reconnaissance: exploration, surveying

BEYOND THE BOOK

Additional Resources

(Note: this section is adapted from Alice Jones-Milller's selections included on The Killer Angels guide.)

Blight, David W. Frederick Douglass' Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee. Baton Rouge: Lousiana State University Press, 1989.

Brown, William Wells. The Negro in the American Rebellion. New York: Citadel Press, 1971.

Chang, Ina. A Separate Battle: Women and the Civil War. New York: Lodestar Books,1991.

Coggins, Jack. Arms and Equipment of the Civil War. First Edition (Illustrated by the author) Garden City, N.Y:Doubleday, 1962.

Eisenschimi, Otto and Ralph Newman. The American Iiad:The Epic Story of the Civil War As Narrated by Eyewitnesses and Contemporaries. Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co. 1947.

Griffith, Paddy, Battle Tactics of the Civil War: New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989.

Hall, Richard Patriots in Disguise: Women Warriors of the Civil War: First Edition. New York: Paragon House, 1993.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom. New York:Ballantine Books 1989.

Stampp, Kenneth M., editor, The Causes of the Civil War, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.1965.

You can also visit www.jeffshaara.com for more information!

ABOUT THIS GUIDE

Teacher's Guide by Jacqueline Parker. Ms. Parker is a writer, consultant, and seminar leader in New York and Los Angeles.


Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: