Many more words have been expended on the American Civil War than bullets were fired. There is even a joke about it. (Question: Who won the Civil War? Answer: The American Booksellers Association.) Until recently I was immune to Civil War fever, had never toured a battlefield, didn't know the difference between Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Then I came across a reference to Killer Angels (Ballantyne), a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Michael Shaara. The novel, published in 1974, is an almost minute-by-minute reimagining of the Battle of Gettysburg, a turning point in the war. Shaara swings the narrative from one side of the front line to the other and back again as he slowly builds the tension over five days of manoeuvring and fighting. While the main characters are well-known officers like Lee and Pickett, the novel's real strength lies in its evocation of life for the common soldier. It is as if Shaara was there, covering the war for CNN, except that he is interested less in how one army defeated the other than in why men on both sides were willing to rush suicidally into combat. In other words, it is a war novel about the history of ideas.