A Blaze of Glory

4
In the sevent novel of a spellbinding new trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara returns to the Civil War terrain he knows best. A Blaze of Glory takes us to the action-packed Western Theater for a vivid re-creation of one of the war ’ s bloodiest and most iconic engagements—the Battle of hiloh.

It ’ s the spring of 1862. The Confederate Army in the West teeters on the brink of collapse following the catastrophic loss of Fort Donelson. Commanding general Albert Sidney Johnston is forced to pull up stakes, abandon the critical city of Nashville, and rally his troops in defense of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Hot on Johnston ’ s trail are two of the Union ’ s best generals: the relentless Ulysses Grant, fresh off his career-making victory at Fort Donelson, and Don Carlos Buell. If their combined forces can crush Johnston ’ s soldiers and capture the railroad, the war in the West likely will be over. There ’ s just one problem: Johnston knows of the Union plans, and is poised to launch an audacious surprise attack on Grant ’ s encampment—a small settlement in southwestern Tennessee anchored by a humble church named Shiloh.

With stunning you-are-there immediacy, Shaara takes us inside the maelstrom of Shiloh as no novelist has before. Drawing on meticulous research, he dramatizes the key actions and decisions of the commanders on both sides: Johnston, Grant, Sherman, Beauregard, and the illustrious Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest. Here too are the houghts and voices of the unior officers, conscripts, and enlisted men who gave their all for the cause, among them Confederate cavalry lieutenant James Seeley and Private Fritz “ Dutchie ” Bauer of the 16th Wisconsin Regiment—brave participants in a pitched back-and-forth battle whose casualty count would far surpass anything the American public had yet seen in this war. By the nd of the irst days of fighting, as Grant ’ s bedraggled forces regroup for could be their last stand, two major events—both totally unexpected—will turn the tide of the battle and perhaps the war itself.
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Year of the Publication
Publication Date
Published May 29th 2012 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2012
Number of Pages
435

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gave it

Since completing his father ’ s intended trilogy on the major Civil War battles in the Southwes, he ’ s had a lot of practice in books about other American wars, portraying the houghts and emotions of the likes of Washington in the Revolutionary War, Robert E.

As usual, Shaara provides perspectives from both sides of the struggle, and as in all books since the seque, he adds the important viewpoints of some front line soldiers in addition to generals.

A star in this show is Confederate General Albert Sydney Johnston, a Texan transplant given command of the Western theater by his fellow West Pointer Davis.

rant 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. The other two voices in the book include Union Private Willliam Bauer, son of a German butcher from Wisconsin, Confederate Lieutenant James Seeley, a cavalryman under Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Isham Harris, the Governor of Tennessee who serves as a civilian aide-de-camp for Johnston.

Grant ’ s forces decamp 20 miles north in the area around Pittsburg Landing on the ennessee River, and is ordered by the Union Commander for the Western Theater, Henry Halleck, to wait there for the arrival of the Ohio army under General Don Carlos Buell before pursuing the Rebel army.

A sum of the battle is that Brooks ’ s army catches Grant ’ s orces in a surprise attack, drives them back toward Pittsburgh Landing, but reinforcements overnight from a neighboring river landing and from the arrival of some of Buell ’ s army allow Grant to counter attack the next mont, forcing the Confederates to retreat back to Corinth.

Maybe Shelby Foote did a better job in his second book, a novella, in capturing the experience of combat at Shiloh, but Shaara impressed me with this passage from Bauer ’ s erspective: 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.

How did it come to pass that Johnston was killed in action while leading troops in an ttempt to flank Grant ’ s forc to the east along the river?

How was it that General Beauregard, Johnston ’ s second in command, halted the attack when it was so close to complete success?

And, the first mont, how was it that Grant held back pursuit of the Confederates when he had them on the run?

Right now, I am just that …one of his toys.In the following excerpt, Shaara tries to capture Sherman ’ s willingness to shrug off his failures to Grant at the beginnin of the sixt days of Shiloh, showing some of the ego and chutzpah that allowed him to become such a favored and brutally effective general later in the war: “ The enemy took full advantage, and I had to pull some of my people out of good strong ground, pull ‘ em back, form up as best we could.

gave it

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.

It 's worth it if you have a serious interest in the American Civil War, and if you are open to reading historical fiction.

If you ca n'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.

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.

Nove is often more accessible to students who have come to believe that history is a meaningless list of names, places, and dates.

And had I not read Michael Shaara 's The Killer Angels, I might not have decided to read The Battle Cry of Freedom, the Pulitzer winning nonfiction tome by McPherson.

Is a poet of strong historical fiction bound to include only real players in the tory he reels out before us?

Others can say what they wish, but I really appreciate what Shaara has done in helping us remember the common soldier.The more good historical fiction I read, the les I am inspired to read less of cPherson, Sears, and Catton.

But the ore I read of these masters of nonfiction, the more credible Shaara 's work looks to me.Again, is this worth your bookstore dollars, or is it something only to be read free or cheap?

gave it

With over 100,000 troops engaged and nearly 25,000 casualties ( about 13,000 Union and 10,000 Confederate), Shiloh was earliest of the major slaughters of the Civil War ( April 1862) with total casualties in this one battle that were said to exceed all of the asualties of the American War for Independence, War of 1812 and Mexican War combined.

As it was soon exceeded in bloodletting by Antietam and Gettysburg, battles captured by the eastern news media and photographers, Shiloh in far away western Tennessee became one of the lesser known major battles of the Civil War. Shaara ’ s book is a welcome addition.The generals, their various strategies and conflicting personalities are depicted along with the erspectives of young soldiers on both sides attempting to gain xperience and preparation for the cauldron of battle into which they would be so suddenly thrown.

gave it

I 'm thankfu I listened to the book rather than reading it.

gave it

Known for his epic novels of historical fantasy, 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 ovel on the Battle of Gettysbur, to that point the bloodiest battle ever fought on US soil, in pring, 1862.

While scholar have focussed much attention on the views of Grant and even Bate, 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.

Shaara offers another round of 'the horrors of war' as it echoes throughout the pages of this powerful ovel, peppered with just enough reality to provide the reader with additional chills.I have long been a fan of Shaara and his writing.

Shaara pulls out a random ( usually fake) soldier and levies much of the real insights of war through their eyes.

gave it

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.

Certain characters who provide us their view of the attle include William Sherman, Albert Sidney Johnston, and so on.The work gives is insights into the backstory of some of the major figures in both armies, from U.

The tory 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).

gave it

A Blaze of Glory: A ovel of the attle of Shiloh begins the new Jeff Shaara trilogy focusing on events of the Civil War ’ s Western Theater.

( My interest probably stems from the reaso that my great-great grandfather was a member of the 18th Louisiana Infantry Brigade that suffered a forty percent casualty rate on the battle ’ s irst day – him not among them.) Shaara, as in his past historical novels, uses a range of characters ( some real, some fictional) to tell his storie.

Naturally, his speculation and interpretation of events can be disputed, but without a oubt, he has humanized the Civil War in a way that even the best history books are nable to match.

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