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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Killer Angels

by Michael Shaara

An excerpt

“The truth is, Colonel, that there's no divine spark, bless you. There's many a man alive no more value than a dead dog. Believe me, when you've seen them hang each other...Equality? Christ in Heaven. What I'm fighting for is the right to prove I'm a better man than many. Where have you seen this divine spark in operation, Colonel? Where have you noted this magnificent equality? The Great White Joker in the Sky dooms us all to stupidity or poverty from birth. No two things on earth are equal or have an equal chance, not a leaf nor a tree. There's many a man worse than me, and some better, but I don't think race or country matters a damn. What matters is justice. 'Tis why I'm here. I'll be treated as I deserve, not as my father deserved. I'm Kilrain, and I God damn all gentlemen. I don't know who me father was and I don't give a damn. There's only one aristocracy, and that's right here - " he tapped his white skull with a thick finger - "and YOU, Colonel laddie, are a member of it and don't even know it. You are damned good at everything I've seen you do, a lovely soldier, an honest man, and you got a good heart on you too, which is rare in clever men. Strange thing. I'm not a clever man meself, but I know it when I run across it. The strange and marvelous thing about you, Colonel darlin', is that you believe in mankind, even preachers, whereas when you've got my great experience of the world you will have learned that good men are rare, much rarer than you think.”
Our question: Do Americans seek an equal society at the expense of a just society?


  1. The answer is more complicated. We really do not care about society. We are taken in by this vague generalizations about helping everyone but in reality we really only want ours and we do not care who has to pay for it.

    Therefore the words Social Justice are appealing because you can imprint whatever you as the individual think would be best for socety.

    Social justice is actually communism repackaged. Dont believe me read about it. It is redistribution of wealth. More than that private property is a hinderance because you can not have private property if society is to decide the best use of all resources including yours.

    But social justice sounds so nice. I mean who could be against justice? and social well we all like to be social...

  2. As you can see from above, AOW, many Americans care only about property and how much they can get.

    They care about neither justice or equality. They care about property.

    It's a dying culture which isn't going to deserve tears.

  3. Duck,
    I don't follow your reasoning in your comment above.

    I'm not all that familiar with The Killer Angels. Am I missing something in the excerpt?

    Provide your literary analysis of the excerpt, please.

    [Wikipedia on Kilrain, the speaker in the above excerpt]

  4. Yes. Worse, we don't have children in school read the classics, humanities, or stuff like this to spark thought about these large philosophical questions.

  5. Ducky is a representative of the jaded mob that is the segment of American culture dying off due to its own pseudo-intellectual corruption, and no more value to the American enterprise than a dead dog. The question that hangs in the balance is whether there are enough "Duckys" to destroy the entire culture and drag down the entire society with them. We shall discover the answer to this question come November.

  6. Silverfiddle,
    The homeschoolers that I work with do read the classics -- as do many in private education.

    But at the university level? Well, a lot of the required reading in required English courses is pure TRASH.

    Back when I attended the university, in 2nd year English, we did indeed read classics. Great course! My professor was liberal, but she followed the state requirements. Yes, there were state requirements as to which books had to be read. That method worked -- but it did not necessarily churn out liberals.

  7. The Ducks of the world are pushing the agenda but we are following.

    It will be a cold day in hell before the government run schools teach the classics.

    The goal of government run schools is submission not education.

  8. The answer is simple. Yes. For some. No, for others.

    The poor want equality.

    The rich want justice.

    There's nothing more to it than that.

  9. I liked the excerpt very much. I'd never heard of "Kilrain" before. Is this a popular thing I ought to have known about, or something rare and recondite you discovered on your own, AOW?

    This phrase stood out:

    "You are damned good at everything I've seen you do, a lovely soldier, an honest man, and you got a good heart on you too, which is rare in clever men."

    What an apt and estimable summation of the meaning of good character!

    And the narrator fever endears himself by saying he's not clever but that somehow he has the ability to recognize and appreciate in others without suspicion or even a hint of jealousy.

    Even though I love the trappings of aristocracy, and will be forever grateful that one upon a time people of wealth, high rank and influence sponsored what-turned-out-to-be the best Art, Music, Architecture, Drama, Poetry, Literature ever to flourish on this old earth, I have an even greater love and admiration for warm-heartedness, passionate devotion, kindness, generosity and taking joy in doing one's work as well as it may be done. I love earthy good humor, sensuality and above all else –– SINCERITY.

    Every human being with any pretension to culture, erudition, elevated taste and completeness (i.e. fulfillment) must embody and achieve balance between two distinct and disparate elements -- the Ascetic and the Rabelaisian. The spiritual and the sensual are in truth two sides of the same coin.

    Those who allow themselves to be ruled by FORMULA are apt to miss the whole point of mortal existence. I've known many such, and all tend to be dismal, dispiriting creatures.

    Anyway, thanks for publishing this excerpt, I loved it.

    ~ FreeThinke


  10. Good God, man. BREVITY IS THE SOUL OF WIT. Try it sometime. You ramble on like the last old fart my grandma married, before he croaked. The guy would just never shut up.

  11. FT,
    I looked up Kilrain via The Killer Angels entry at Wikipedia.

    Prior to that, I really didn't know who Kilrain was.

    Sam posted the excerpt -- in case you didn't notice the label.

  12. Black Sheep,
    Some of us do go on more than others.

    I read like the wind, so long comments don't bother me.

    I will admit that your line about the last man whom your grandmother knew is hilarious. I had an uncle like that!

  13. Some of us have a lot more to SAY than others too.

    And some of us prefer to express ourselves in ENGLISH as opposed to invective.

    Take soothing Pepto Bismol and feel GOOD again!

    Be of good cheer! Enjoy the moment. Things can always get worse –– and probably will.

    Walt Whitman had it right when he said:


    Best regards,

    ~ FreeThinke


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