By now, there’s barely a Civil War skirmish that doesn’t boast its own deluxe coffee-table edition. Many of the genre’s current scribblers—ever desperate to find a new angle on some tired old battle—are masters of ponderous minutiae, less concerned with Why They Fought than How They Shat. Jeff Shaara’s Gods and Generals is a refreshing throwback to the old tradition, which prized such forgotten skills as crafting a compelling narrative and breathing life into long-dead historical characters. A worthy prequel to his father Michael’s classic, The Killers Angels, Gods and Generals follows its protagonists—many of whom were classmates and boon companions at West Point—in the years leading up to their fateful meeting at Gettysburg. Shaara reads from his work at 7:30 p.m. at Borders, 1201 S. Hayes St., Arlington. FREE. (703) 418-0166. (Eddie Dean)