The library will host an evening with Jeff Shaara, best-selling author of “Gods and Generals”

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Jeff Shaara, author of ‘gods and generalswill travel to Forsyth County to speak and sign new books at the Forsyth Conference Center at 7 p.m., Monday, March 7.

An Evening with Jeff Shaara is one of many events hosted by Forsyth County Public Library as part of Forsyth Reads Together, a community reading program sponsored by Forsyth County Public Library, FCPL Friends and Advocates and the ‘Forsyth County Arts Alliance at Forsyth County. Community Foundation, an affiliate of the North Georgia Community Foundation.

Admission to the event is free, pre-registration is required and residents can do so on the library’s website at www.forsythpl.org.

Launched in 2008 to encourage literacy and foster community unity, Forsyth Reads Together has brought many renowned authors to Forsyth County over the years, including Rick Bragg, Kathryn Stockett, Dennis Lehane, Gregory Maguire and Martha Hall Kelly.

The Forsyth Reads Together 2022 book selection,’gods and generals,’ is the prequel to ‘The Killer Angels‘, winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for fiction written by Jeff Shaara’s father, Michael Shaara. In an interview for the Library Podcast, the author opened up about how he came to write the prequel to his father’s only work of historical fiction.

“I had never written anything before – it’s not false modesty, I was a businessman in Florida. My father’s book is the basis of the film ‘Gettysburg‘, the film by Ted Turner, […] but my father had died five years before the film came out,” Shaara said. “So he didn’t live to see the fact that the movie made his book a number one bestseller.”

He talked about how Turner wanted to make more Civil War-era films, both before and after the Battle of Gettysburg.

Shaara says he had no fear or intimidation about approaching’gods and generals as his first novel.

“Whatever story I make up, if it’s ugly and we’re not going to use it [to make a movie], it goes in the trash. No one will ever see it. So that’s why I wasn’t really scared [of] tackle that,” he said.

While Shaara was working on the early stages of research and writing, he was also representing his father’s estate with publisher Random House in New York and mentioned he was writing a prequel to ‘The Killer Angels.’ The publisher asked to see the manuscript.

“The phone call I got was, ‘We don’t care if it’s a movie. We love the book. We think you’re a writer, here’s a deal,” Sharra said. “It changed my whole life.”

When visiting the library next month, Shaara is expected to discuss the importance of research to portray historical figures accurately and authentically.

“The importance of following in the footsteps of these characters, it’s a lesson I learned from my father,” he said. “If I’m going to describe to you that hill where the kid with a gun in his hand walks into enemy guns, it’s really better if I’ve been on that hill, not just seen a picture of it in a book.”

Shaara will also discuss how he came to understand the novel’s four main characters, General Robert E. Lee, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain , through memoirs written by fellow officers and their wives. Having this perspective helps the reader understand how the characters made the decision to go to war, face their old friends on the battlefields, and how their families reacted.


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