The Civil War Trilogy Books Review (2020)

With this trilogy, Jeff Shaara picks up his father’s mantle (Michael Shaara) and has produced this amazing series of American Civil War novels: Gods and Generals, The Killer Angels and The Last Full Measure.

It is hard to believe that this is Jeff Shaara’s first attempt at writing a novel and it is surely the first time that the child of a Pulitzer Prize winner has written a novel on the same subject, and even about the same people, as his father. What confidence, skill and passion were required to produce this outstanding record of the American Civil War? Whatever it takes, it is clear from The Civil War Trilogy books that Jeff Shaara has it in spadesful! If you like this book, you have to take a look at our selection of the best civil war books.

The Civil War Trilogy

The book Gods and Generals is a prologue to his father’s book The Killer Angels. For anyone with an interest in the powerful men who were behind the plotting and planning before the Battle of Gettysburg, then Gods and Generals will give you all the background knowledge you require. We covered in our 5 best civil war fiction books as well.

Shaara shares personal details about the lives and characters of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Winfield Scott Hancock and Joshua Chamberlain from the start of their careers until these men were tested in the fire of battle. They were epic military leaders and Jeff Shaara draws the reader in by presenting the story through the eyes of the different leaders. It is as if they are all marching steadfastly and inevitably towards the small town of Gettysburg.

The Killer Angels is a recount of the Battle of Gettysburg and describes the horrific four-day battle that will never be forgotten in America’s history. It is a story of courage, determination and bloodshed. Michael Shaara’s ability to bring the leaders to life and allow them to speak beyond the grave is compelling and enlightening.

We find ourselves battling to take sides because both armies had their own dreams, and they were the same dreams that ordinary men have had from the beginning of time – dreams of freedom and dreams of a better life. Except when these forces clashed, it changed the future and the lives of the people forever.

Some claim that The Killer Angels has the ability to awaken an interest in the American Civil War even for those who have no link with the land on which the battle was fought. It is probably for this reason that the novel became the inspiration for Ron Maxwell’s film Gettysburg in 1993.

The Last Full Measure is the tale of the discord between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant in the closing two years of the American Civil War. These two men were complex characters of their day but with widely differing backgrounds, opinions and wartime strategies –they are recognized as heroes, but not without faults.

Shaara enjoyed the challenge of revealing the true nature of General Grant and his passion for bringing Grant to life as a real man, rather than just a legend is apparent. It is as if the evolution of Grant’s military talent as revealed in the Mississippi Campaign mirrors Shaara’s development as an outstanding novelist in his own right.

The Last Full Measure starts just after the battle of Gettysburg when all are weary as the war has already lasted more than two years. The Union Army was sorely in need of an authoritative leader and Ulysses S. Grant was just the man they needed to change the course of the war.

The battle of Gettysburg had been an unmitigated catastrophe for Robert E. Lee and he was mindful that the South could not endure the war being drawn out much longer, but he was unwavering in his dedication to see it through no matter what.

Shaara mirrors the intensifying battle between Lee and Grant with the drama of the final battles of the Civil War- right up to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The reader views the end of the war through the actions of these great men who gave their “last full measure”. As you could find out in our The Civil War Trilogy books review, The Last Full Measure is the apt crowning glory to this outstanding trilogy.

Author

Michael Englert

Michael Englert

Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. He enjoys a good bottle of wine and (surprise, surprise) reading. As a small-town librarian, he is currently relishing the silence and peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing.