In his latest book, A Blaze of Glory
, Jeff Shaara returns to the roots of the writing legacy created by himself and his father, Michael—the American Civil War. This time Shaara heads to the lesser known western campaign of the war, the struggle along the Mississippi River in which Gen. U. S. Grant earned his reputation as the Union’s hardest fighting general.Glory
focuses on the 1862 Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburgh Landing. Coming on the heels of his victory at Fort Donelson, Shiloh was a pyric victory for Grant. Surprised by the forces of Confederate Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston, the Union forces were nearly forced back into the river before Grant could rally them and counter-attack, eventually retaking the battlefield and sending the rebels into retreat. The fight was costly for both sides, resulting in tens of thousands of casualties, a butcher’s bill that wouldn’t be surpassed until the Battle of Antietam. Among the dead was Gen. Johnston.
Shaara’s narrates the battle from the point of view the major commanders – Grant, Johnston and William T. Sherman – as well as two fictitious soldiers, a Union infantryman and a Confederate cavalryman.
This is Shaara at his best. The story is more focused than his four-book series about WWII. This allowed him to paint portraits of the major characters with more detail and color. The battle scenes – so much more compact than WWII battles – are more vivid. Shaara’s return to the family roots is much welcomed by this reader. I’m looking forward to the next two books in this trilogy.