Michael Shaara died thinking he was a failure. His great love was writing. He did get a few short stories published, but not enough to pay the bills, so he taught writing at Florida State University and his wife had a job as well to support the family. His first book received a few positive reviews, but was a commercial failure.
His greatest passion was a book on the battle of Gettysburg, a project he began after a pleasing family vacation there. It took him seven years to complete the project. Not long after its completion, he had a major heart attack. The Killer Angels was rejected by thirteen publishers. Finally, in 1973 it was printed by a small publishing house. It was virtually ignored by the public, but did receive a Pulitzer Prize. Even that did nothing to help the sales. In 1988, Michael died.
Filmmaker Ron Maxwell decided to use the book, The Killer Angels, as the basis of his film, Gettysburg. Because of that, the book rocketed to the best seller list nineteen years after its publication and after Shaara had died. What is most significant was that Michael’s son, Jeff, picked up the mantle and has written five best sellers in the genre of his father. He even worked to get his father’s baseball book published and turned into a move. Michael Shaara was a greater success than he knew and his influence wider than he had dreamed.
-Michael Shannon, Preaching March/April 2003
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