Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Books on Tape

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Books on Tape

Article excerpt

"THE KILLER ANGELS" A Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novel by Michael Shaara (12 hours, 41 minutes, unabridged, Cathedral Audio Books, $49.95)

All one has to remember is a Christmas gift from a maiden aunt to know that terrific packaging doesn't make the contents special. But it's understandable why the publisher gave such great care to the visual presentation of this book, which is about the deadly three-day clash between Union and Confederate forces at Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863. The work will probably have an extended shelf life, so its binder is made to resemble a volume of an encyclopedia.

This story of the Civil War's bloodiest and pivotal battle is read with great ability by George Hearn, who not only has to change accents repeatedly, but moods and tempos as well. The forward and afterward are read by Ronald F. Maxwell, who wrote the screenplay and directed the four-hour-long movie "Gettysburg," which he faithfully adapted from the Shaara novel.

Probably nothing is as cloudy as war, and a battle that pitted 160,000 Americans against one another will never be clear, especially a clash that produced more than 50,000 casualities. The author views the three, lethal days in Pennsylvania through the eyes of some of the combatants, mainly Col. Josuha Lawrence Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Maine Regiment; Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate forces; and Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, Lee's second in command.

It is Chamberlain's regiment that holds off a much larger force during a critical engagement, and it his thoughts and words that give rhyme if not reason to the carnage there.

No one could know what these men were thinking during this period in their lives, so the author interjects thoughts and words while sticking close to the facts as reported and analyzed. It may be one of the most valuable aspects of a historical novel, giving sense to action when none seems applicable.

Chamberlain, a professor of rhetoric and religion at Bowdoin College, won the Medal of Honor for his defense of Little Round Top on the second day of the battle. …

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