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  1. A Blaze of Glory by Jeff Shaara |
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Known for his epic novels of historical fiction, Jeff Shaara has further distanced himself from those within the genre by writing solely or, at least predominantly about war, through American eyes. Shaara chooses to focus the first novel on the Battle of Shiloh, to that point the bloodiest battle ever fought on US soil, in Spring, Shaara chooses wisely as he moves the focus w Known for his epic novels of historical fiction, Jeff Shaara has further distanced himself from those within the genre by writing solely or, at least predominantly about war, through American eyes.

Shaara chooses wisely as he moves the focus west in this case, West would be along the lines of Kentucky and Tennessee , at times on the cusp of the North-South divide. As he states in his introduction, Shaara is careful to choose a handful of characters to tell this story.

From the Union side, narratives include those with a focus on General Ulysses S. Grant and faceless soldier Fritz Bauer. Within the narrative, characters advance not only the plans of the battle as both sides mobilised, but some of the inner struggles that both the mighty and peons felt, some barely able to grasp the concept of war.

As pressure mounts and the major battle seems imminent, the characters are forced to their limits and the little-known Bauer and Seeley become central, allowing them to describe the horrors they witness. While historians have focussed much attention on the views of Grant and even Johnston, this insight into the blood, gore, and loss of the frontline soldiers helps stir events as Shiloh becomes less about a land grab and more the piercing of souls and loss of innocence. By the end, with bodies strewn all over, neither side can truly say they have won, even though history will record it as a significant Union victory.

A Blaze of Glory by Jeff Shaara |

Shaara offers another round of 'the horrors of war' as it echoes throughout the pages of this powerful novel, peppered with just enough reality to provide the reader with additional chills. I have long been a fan of Shaara and his writing. His style of getting to the core of the issue, the views of the day-to-day soldiers offers something refreshing that is missing from biographies or pieces of historical non-fiction. Shaara pulls out a random usually fake soldier and levies much of the real insights of war through their eyes.

This allows the reader to better understand things, with less of the clean-cut precision that war historians tend to offer. His use of real sources helps to support the claims of truth behind the novels he pens, though they remain fiction because of the dreamt-up dialogue he uses to propel the story forward. That being said, I will admit that there are times that I got lost in the minutiae or the dialogue and details, even though I am focussed with a keen narrator through the audiobook version. I struggled repeatedly to find some of the key moments of character development or the crucial lead-up to events.

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I found myself learning about some of the characters, but ask me specifics about their plights or worries and I would be lost. I find this to be more my lack of sustained interest in the intricate details of the US Civil War sorry, my American friends than Shaara's writing. I cannot, in good conscience, offer up a five-star rating for this book, though I feel it is more my impediment than the author's inability to transmit things. I find myself in the position where I hold my nose and rate the book more along the lines with what I know it is worth rather than how it made me feel, disconnected from what I know of the author.

I also promised myself that I would read all the books in this tetralogy and I will. I want to open my mind and perhaps catch myself enthralled by the time this is all over and done with. I owe it to myself and Jeff Shaara, whose past work has been stellar, even to a lowly Canadian such as myself. Shaara, for you would still make your father proud with a novel like this. While I sometimes have troubles with concepts or intricate battle plotting, I know I need to pay better attention and I will surely learn a great deal from you.

An ever-growing collection of others appears at: View all 4 comments. Jun 15, Michael rated it really liked it Shelves: Here he initiates a series on the Civil War in the West i. The battle is an important phase in the struggle over control of the Mississippi River and the railroads, which were the lifeblood of the economy and war making capacity of the South. It is also important that the horrific losses on both sides revealed to all that easy victory in this war was not in the cards and that tremendous sacrifices were called for to resolve the conflict.

As usual, Shaara provides perspectives from both sides of the conflict, and as in all books since the trilogy, he adds the important viewpoints of some front line soldiers in addition to generals. On the Union side, Shaara covers the perspectives of Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, the former riding on victories at Forts Donelson and Henry on rivers in western Tennessee and the latter smarting from the panic and failure of is troops at Bull Run. In the face of the loss of the two river forts, he consolidates his army at Corinth in northern Mississippi, site of a critical railroad junction.

About , fought in the battle, and roughly 25, casualties resulted, evenly divided, with about 3, total killed in action. This two-day total was more casualties that all the previous U. The battle was a horror show, especially for green troops ordered to make wave after wave of assaults over the mud and creeks against a flood of musket and artillery fire shades of the Somme even without machine guns. Private Bauer is awed and shocked by his comrade in arms ability to take joy in the killing. The advance and retreat over the same killing ground meant crossing over the bodies of those fallen before.

There had been too many horrors that day, no way to erase any of that, his ears still wringing from the astounding volume of musket fire thrown across such tight spaces in never-ending waves, a steady hum and roar like some ungodly swarm of hornets.

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  4. On the retreat, the men who littered the ground were nearly all in blue, and it was impossible to ignore the gut-twisting sight of so many pieces of men, severed arms and legs, corpses chopped in half by cannon fire, some shredded by canister. The value of a fictional treatment for me is to get a chance to experience a considered version of the mind of key players at critical turning points where there is still debate by historians.

    How was it that Grant and Sherman were caught unprepared for the attack? And, the next day, how was it that Grant held back pursuit of the Confederates when he had them on the run? Blame for these failures was pointed in many directions after the battle and long after the war. In this account, Shaara paints a plausible answer to these questions while trying to capture some of the personalities and experience of the men behind the decisions.

    In a preface, Shaara reminds the reader that: Well, as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated. Halleck and Beauregard come off as idiots, the nemeses of his generals. Louis that requires the Big Man to stay neatly tucked away in his office.

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    He knew the scene well, Halleck at his desk, puffy eyes under a raggedly receding hairline, a chinless martinet whose vanity oozed out like the mud that stirred beneath the riverboat. One of these days, he thought, there will come a time when Henry Halleck stretches too far his belief in his own magnificence.

    There will be some mistake, something only he can be faulted for, and by God, his genius will be seen for what it is, the imagination of a small, frightened scoundrel, who rubs his army the way a child plays with toys. Right now, I am just that …one of his toys. Only brigade that held up was Buckland. He needs a promotion. Only one likely to lose his command is me. Damn them to hell. That the conflict was bound to become an inglorious war of attrition was hard to accommodate. At the end of the battle, Bauer is surprised how his mentor in the field has turned so gloomy, responding to his query over whether the whipped Rebels will be ready to surrender: This was not great literature, but it made an important early stage in the Civil War come alive for me.

    I am looking forward to reading the two others in the series, one on the Battle of Vicksburg and the third on the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. The book was provided by the publisher through the Goodreads Giveaway program. View all 5 comments. May 18, Steven Peterson rated it really liked it. This is another in a series of works by Jeff Shaara, whose father authored the well acclaimed work "The Killer Angels" a novel of the battle at Gettysburg.

    The mode of operation is the same, between both pere and fils. Several figures are selected to act as characters in their novels. We see the particular battle or campaign through their eyes. By, then, aggregating these individual views, we get an overal This is another in a series of works by Jeff Shaara, whose father authored the well acclaimed work "The Killer Angels" a novel of the battle at Gettysburg. By, then, aggregating these individual views, we get an overall sense of the nature of the battle or campaign.

    Generally, this has worked well. This novel focuses on the first major bloodletting in the Civil War--making Bull Run seem like a skirmish. Here Ulysses Grant's forces met an equal sized army, led by Albert Sidney Johnston, a Confederate general who had a towering reputation--but who had not fared as well as what people had expected from him. In this novel, there are more "ordinary" characters, "grunts" in both the Union and Confederate armies. Other characters who provide us their view of the battle include William Sherman, Albert Sidney Johnston, and so on. The work gives is insights into the character of some of the major figures in both armies, from U.

    Grant to Pierre G. The novel takes us from the aftereffects of Grant's victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, which wrecked Johnson's defensive line from the Mississippi River to Eastern Tennessee. The story of his retreat, linking with forces led by Beauregard and Bragg, and his subsequent decision to mount a surprise attack on Grant's forces, now camping at Pittsburg Landing Shiloh was a small church in the land above the Mississippi. The surprise attack turned into a nightmare for the Confederates the anger and frustration among Confederate generals is well told.

    Union forces seemed stubbornly resistant to recognizing signs of an imminent attack. The view from the ground continues to work well. Some issues did arise here though. There seemed to be an overemphasis on the humdrum lives of the grunts, which slowed the development of the action. It was fine for giving a sense of the private's perspective, but did it really add to the narrative?

    The historical aspects of this novel seem pretty well done I am an amateur in terms of history, but most of the book is consistent with my understanding of this sanguinary battle.

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    Jun 16, Stephen rated it really liked it Shelves: Come all you gallant soldiers, a story I will tell About the bloody battle on top of Shiloh's hill It was an awful struggle; it'll cause your heart to chill All from the bloody battle on top of Shiloh's hill. The n Come all you gallant soldiers, a story I will tell About the bloody battle on top of Shiloh's hill It was an awful struggle; it'll cause your heart to chill All from the bloody battle on top of Shiloh's hill.

    The WW2 novels saw Shaara attempting to create his own narrative approach, one focused on fewer characters, but in A Blaze of Glory he returns to both his original style and setting: Here, the action begins in the west, and the main event is the staggeringly bloody battle of Shiloh. Shaara turning his attention to the little-regarded western theater is most welcome: This allows Shaara to tell the story from both sides, without demonizing either. Although we won the battle, my heart is filled with pain The one that brought me to this life I'll never see again I pray to the lord if consistent with his will Lord save the souls of them poor boys that died on Shiloh's hill.

    The most haunting version I've yet heard is Bobby Horton's. YouTube has a cover by Wayne Erbsen. My first experience with Jeff Shaara was an excellent one. I'm glad I listened to the book rather than reading it. Miahael's reading was able to portray the various characters' human qualities or lack thereof that probably would not have been apparant otherwise. I am somewhat of a Civil War history junkie and the b My first experience with Jeff Shaara was an excellent one. I am somewhat of a Civil War history junkie and the book, while fiction, was true to the carnage that was the Battle of Shiloh.

    I look forward to more from Jeff Shaara. Apr 25, Sam Sattler rated it it was amazing Shelves: A Blaze of Glory: I was particularly pleased to see that the new series begins with the Battle of Shiloh because of the number of hours I have spent walking that particular battlefield site over the years. A Blaze of Glory leaves me with a better understanding of what happened during those two critical days in and, just as importantly, what might have happened if either army had been better prepared for the fight. Shaara, as in his past historical novels, uses a range of characters some real, some fictional to tell his story.

    This allows the author to offer insights into the personalities, motivations, jealousies, fears, doubts, and dreams that were carried to the field by all those soldiers on April , All told, more than , men fought on this relatively small patch of ground and almost 24, of them are counted as casualties of Shiloh although less than 4, actual deaths are included in the total. Caught by surprise at dawn on the first day of the battle, Union troops, as dusk approaches, have been driven as far as they can go without drowning themselves in the rain-swollen Tennessee River.

    Unfortunately for the Confederacy, General Albert Sidney Johnston is dead having bled to death from a leg wound he barely seemed to notice at the time and has been replaced by his second-in-command, the more cautious General P. But the next morning, the reinforced Union army attacks first and the Confederates are the ones forced to concede the field to a victorious army. Shaara does not change historical facts.

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    Rather, he uses his research and insight into the human condition to explain why things happened as they did. Naturally, his speculation and interpretation of events can be disputed, but without a doubt, he has humanized the Civil War in a way that even the best history books are unable to match. It was erroneously entered as four stars at some point, and the system is resisting my effort to correct it. I am a longstanding fan of Jeff Shaara's. I see people write criticism of his work that sometimes approaches hysteria, and frankly, I don't get it. Like his Pulitzer-winning father before him, Shaara uses a combination of extensive knowledge of the war; a fertile imagination; and considerable writing skill to turn America' To clarify: Like his Pulitzer-winning father before him, Shaara uses a combination of extensive knowledge of the war; a fertile imagination; and considerable writing skill to turn America's most pivotal war into stories.

    Story, in turn, is a tremendously effective vehicle for teaching about history. At this point, I should mention that I got my copy courtesy of the First Reads program; my thanks go to the publisher. This copy will hold a place of pride in my personal library, alongside the other books of Shaara's that were given me as gifts or purchased outright for full jacket price. Is it worth full price? I say yes, with this qualification. It's worth it if you have a serious interest in the American Civil War, and if you are open to reading historical fiction.

    It's so named because any time one takes the known facts and adds dialogue, or inner dialogue, presuming to know the thoughts of historical characters, then of course part of it is made up. If you can't live with that, either stick to nonfiction or go away. Interest in the Civil War is key here because nobody can turn the battle of Shiloh into a fun read. It isn't a fun subject.

    So if you want a fluffy beach read, this book isn't that. I was somewhat surprised to note that my own Goodreads shelves had listed this book as read by me, and the rating as 4 stars. I think it may have been an error, because I usually write a review, even if the book wasn't free to me. However, another possibility exists: Don't read this book on your e-reader! You need to be able to see the maps, which are pivotal to understanding the action as Shaara describes it.

    If you didn't need it, the author and publishers would not have devoted the space to it. I flipped back a few times to give those maps a second and third glance as I was reading. I do love my new e-reader and I use it a lot, but when possible, I read military history and historical fiction on paper. When I taught American history, I always kept some of Shaara's other work on my classroom shelves.

    Fiction is often more accessible to students who have come to believe that history is a meaningless list of names, places, and dates. When story is used, the reader comes to understand that what took place involved real human beings and sometimes, they even recognize that their lives today might be different from what they are if things had unfolded differently back then. I found this was also true of my students, that fiction was often a necessary conduit that made them more willing to read nonfiction on the same topic.

    And once that bridge is crossed, it doesn't matter that there was no actual soldier named Bauer who did the things Jeff Shaara's foot soldier did. This brings me to the last thing I want to say about this well researched, carefully crafted book. Is a writer of strong historical fiction bound to include only real players in the story he reels out before us? It's fiction; he can write anything he wants to. Well then, if he invents a character and gives him as much breath and life as the others, who were real, is his writing unworthy of our time and attention?

    I stand by the writer in this case. There were so many fresh-faced young soldiers out there who won no permanent place in our nation's history. The working class, the lowest on the totem pole, are often disenfranchised by the fact that their history goes unwritten. For Shaara to create a single character to show that these men are not forgotten is gutsy and laudable.

    While leadership was critical to winning the war, it's very important not to forget all those unknown boys and men who marched, slept in the rain and the mud, and sometimes died of dysentery before the next day's march began. Others can say what they wish, but I really appreciate what Shaara has done in helping us remember the common soldier. The Shaaras inspired me to read the memoirs of Grant and Sherman; I have a biography of Stonewall Jackson as my next-in-line galley. But the more I read of these masters of nonfiction, the more credible Shaara's work looks to me.

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    Again, is this worth your bookstore dollars, or is it something only to be read free or cheap? If you have a strong interest in both historical fiction and the battle of Shiloh, there's nothing better. Buy the book and read it; if you have to pay the full cover price, do it. It's a worthwhile investment, and maybe some young person in your life will be inspired to borrow it. What could be more important? Aug 16, James rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Interesting novel about one of the most dreadful slaughters of the Civil War.

    Historical Fiction Military Fiction Category: Historical Fiction Military Fiction Audiobooks. Buy the Audiobook Download: Apple Audible downpour eMusic audiobooks.

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