Follow TV Tropes


Context Literature / GodsAndGenerals

Go To

1[[quoteright:139:]]²''Gods and Generals'' is a 1996 novel of the UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar. It was written by Jeff Shaara and serves as a prequel to ''Literature/TheKillerAngels'', the novelization of Gettysburg that was written by his father Michael Shaara (later adapted into the movie ''[[Film/{{Gettysburg}} Gettysburg]]''). This book too was adapted into the [[Film/GodsAndGenerals film of the same name]] in 2003, although the more extensive narrative resulted in greater cuts.²²The novel covers the origins of the war starting in 1858, depicting the rising tensions in the South, John Brown at Harper's Ferry, and the divisions of loyalty when the Southern states began to secede following Lincoln's election. It focuses on the Eastern Theater, mainly the Army of the Potomac's revolving door of commanding generals and the generalship of Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. It closes in June of 1863, just before the Battle of Gettysburg.²²----²!!Tropes present:²* ADayInTheLimelight: The wives of Lee, Hancock, and Jackson have some point-of-view sections.²* AnnoyingYoungerSibling: Mildly, with Tom Chamberlain's tendency to address his older brother (and commander) by name.²* AscendedExtra: Hancock is a significant figure in ''The Killer Angels'' but is only seen a few times through the eyes of Buford, Chamberlain, and Armistead's description of him. In this book, he is one of the protagonists.²* ArmchairMilitary: ²** Hancock is cursed by this at the beginning. He's so good at being a quartermaster that his career is stagnating there; fortunately [=McClellan=] recognizes his capacity for field command and promotes him to General. Lee is hampered for similar reasons and for his lack of connections in Washington.²** High command (in both Washington and Richmond) had an unfortunate tendency to make appointments based on politics rather than ability and experience, resulting in a lot of incompetent officers.²* AsTheGoodBookSays: Most often Jackson, Lee, and Chamberlain.²* AttackAttackAttack: The "strategy" at Fredricksburg: repeatedly sending Union troops uphill, over open ground, towards the well-fortified Confederate position.²-->'''Lee:''' If I were General Burnside, I would not attack here. I'd move back upstream, come across from above us. But Burnside is not a man with the luxury of flexibility. He's being pushed from behind by loud voices in Washington, by newspapers who demand quick action. But we're here, and so he will attack us here.²* BlasphemousBoast: Hooker says that "the Almighty himself" could not stop the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville. Some of the men reflect on this after the defeat.²* BloodKnight: Stonewall Jackson is absolutely relentless and much is made of his fiery eyes in battle. Noted in ''The Killer Angels'' when one Confederate recalls that Jackson once said "I don't want them brave, I want them dead" when his men wanted to hold their fire against a valiant Yankee soldier.²* CallForward: The window-curtain that makes a sound like ''[[WrittenSoundEffect never, forever]]'' at Fredricksburg was something that Chamberlain remembered in ''The Killer Angels''.²* CondescendingCompassion: Pre-war Lee requires a lot of convincing to "sell" one of his slaves to his free brother, who has been saving up, because he doesn't think they're capable of supporting themselves as free men.²* ConflictingLoyalty: The book depicts the ethical struggle of Lee and Armistead in choosing to join the Confederates and, on a broader scale, the political upheaval in Southern states after secession comes down.²* DemotedToExtra: Longstreet does have a few chapters, but the Confederate sections focus more on Jackson (who was a PosthumousCharacter in ''The Killer Angels''). General Buford also does not appear on the Union side.²* FieldPromotion: Multiple. Hancock jumps from Major to Brigadier General when [=McClellan=] takes command and Chamberlain goes from Lieutenant Colonel to full Colonel near the end of the book.²* FriendOrFoe: Jackson is shot by Confederate men while conducting reconnaissance and dies after he contracts pneumonia on the sickbed.²* EnsignNewbie: Lt. Colonel Chamberlain. He was aware of his lack of military experience, so he turned down a possible appointment as a full Colonel.²* GeneralFailure: The early Union commanders, in order....²** General [=McClellan=] is actually excellent when it comes to organizing the army and selecting good commanders, but he's terrible in the field. (Hence the lament of one soldier that "[=McClellan=] brought superior forces to Antietam, but he also brought himself.")²** General Burnside is a genial man and a decent general under someone else's command, and unlike the others understands very well his own shortcomings, but his lack of strategic imagination and rigid adherence to the initial plan leads the army to disaster in the Battle of Fredricksburg.²** General Hooker is a MilesGloriosus who seems more concerned about how well he can boast than effective strategy and flames out at the Battle of Chancellorsville.²* HappilyMarried: Winfield Scott and Almira Hancock. The other marriages depicted are rockier for various reasons, mostly related to military life.²* HiddenHeartOfGold: Jackson befriends a little girl and frolics with her in camp like she was his own daughter, to the astonishment of his men.²* LimitedAdvancementOpportunities: Hancock and Lee are stuck at their current rank before the war. In Hancock's case, it's because he's too good at being a quartermaster for the Army to promote him out of the job. For Lee, it's a lack of connections and diffidence about politicking his way up.²* LoopholeAbuse: ²** At the Battle of Williamsburg, Hancock is repeatedly ordered to withdraw his men despite his excellent position. He finally complies by "retreating" into the Confederate flank.²** Chamberlain is given a two-year sabbatical from Bowdoin when his older colleagues feel his lectures on the war are too incendiary. Chamberlain uses his leave to sign up for the Army almost immediately.²* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Lee and Longstreet speculate that the men of the 18th North Carolina will carry Jackson's death with them forever.²* NewMeat: The 20th Maine. Until they reach a battlefield they're rather MildlyMilitary (as most of them are from the same area and are used to discussing things before a collective decision is made) and accidentally draw attention to the Union artillery at Antietam because they want to watch what's going on.²* NoSenseOfHumor: Jackson tends to respond to jokes by staring in confusion.²* NotSoStoic: Jackson is broken-hearted when the little girl he befriended dies of scarlet fever.²* OriginsEpisode: The first part of the book depicts where each of the protagonists were before the war and how they chose the sides they did (Hancock in California, Lee in Mexico, etcetera).²* TheProfessor: Chamberlain is a professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Maine.²* ReligiousBruiser: In an already religious time, Jackson stand out for his belief that God wants him to kill ''all'' of the Yankee troops in front of him.²-->'''Jackson:''' Mr. Smith, my religious faith teaches me that God has already fixed the time of my death; therefore, I think not of it. I am as calm in battle as I would be in my own parlor. God will come for me in his own time.²* RenaissanceMan: The head of Bowdoin wryly speculates that Chamberlain will become a great soldier, since he can become an expert in any subject apparently at will. ²* SternTeacher: Jackson's job prior to the war. He memorizes his classroom lectures and will repeat them word-for-word the next day if someone doesn't understand, although he's more interesting when teaching on the actual artillery range.²* SurroundedByIdiots: Hancock and his friend General Couch grow increasingly frustrated with their ineffectual commanders, although the narrative makes sure to point out that it was only the commanders, not the men themselves, who were the problem.²* SwitchingPOV: Following the pattern of ''Literature/TheKillerAngels''. Here, the principals are Hancock and Chamberlain for the Union, Lee and Jackson for the Confederates.²* TrademarkFavoriteFood: Jackson and lemons.²* WarIsHell: Throughout the book, from the First Battle of Bull Run[=/=]Mannassas onward. It's also particularly clear in the scenes at Fredricksburg when men are able to ford a canal because the bodies of their comrades have made it shallower and Chamberlain has to build himself a fort out of corpses.²-->'''Lee:''' It is well that war is so terrible... or we should grow too fond of it.²* WarWasBeginning: The narrative covers the tensions in the country that lead up to the Civil War--John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, the ethical questions about slavery, Lincoln's election in 1860, secessionist propaganda in newspapers, etcetera.²* WellDoneSonGuy: Chamberlain's father was disappointed that his son didn't go to West Point. Chamberlain joins the Army because he believes in the cause, but the thought of pleasing his father is a bonus.²* WorthyOpponent: Mostly Armistead and Hancock due to their strong friendship.²* WrongGenreSavvy: Civilians at the First Battle of Bull Run[=/=]Mannassas dressed up and brought picnic baskets to watch the battle (specifically, to watch the Union trounce the rebels). They were quite astonished to discover that, in fact, people getting shot and blasted with cannons is bloody and horrific.²----


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: