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Civil War (Jeff Shaara) Books In Order

Publication Order of Civil War Trilogy Books

A Blaze of Glory (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Chain of Thunder (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Smoke at Dawn (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Fateful Lightning (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

“Civil War” is a set of historical novels by Jeff Shaara the award-winning and bestselling novelist from Tallahassee, Florida. Jeff had always been interested in history though for the most part because he was influenced by Michael Shaara his father who was also a history buff. He attended Florida State University and got his bachelors in Criminology, before he went on to work as a coin and precious metal dealer in Florida. He got his start as a professional author when he wrote “Gods and Generals” in 1996. The novel opened the floodgates as he became one of the most prolific and popular historical fiction authors. From that time on, he averaged about a novel every other year and has maintained the same frequency ever since. With his interest in history, he has been involved in writing not only about the Civil War but also in the Mexican War and the American Revolution, in which he has published several novels. His debut novel “Gods and Generals” was adapted into “Gods and Generals” a Warner Brothers movie that was released in 2003. Apart from getting his novels adapted into movies he has also received several awards from Florida State University.

Apart from his fiction works and novels, Shaara has written several columns including several on “Rime Entertainment.” She has also written a foreword for MacKinlay Kantor’s novel “Long Remember.” He has also contributed and participated in the “National Endowment for the Arts Program” funded Operation Homecoming. Working for the program, he has taught several workshops some of which have been on aircraft carriers and military bases. From 2007, he was a director of the historical organization American Battlefields Trust. He presently lives in Philadelphia.

The “Civil War” series is different from other historical fiction works since they take the reader to the real locations with the real persons that made the historical event. The only thing that makes the series fiction is the fact that Shaara takes one into the minds of his characters. Reading the novels, it is obvious that a lot of research has gone into them. Moreover, the author has asserted that he reads a ton of books before writing a single novel. The novels are thus drawn from a variety of sources from the memoirs, letters, diaries, interviews of the likes of Patton, Bradley, Rommel and Kesselring, and other primary sources. The research is critical as it enables the author to get into the head of the characters, which makes it possible to write entertaining and fairly accurate dialogues. As for the GI characters, most of it is also from real-life experiences. The author gets much of what he writes about GIs from people contacting him with material from letters, diaries, and the likes from real GIs that were in the different battle theaters in the Civil War. For instance, he once got an account of a man that served in the 42nd Infantry Division that was invaluable in how he viewed GIs. From his father, Shaara learned the importance of sites and this is clear in the Civil War series. Most of the novels are written from the perspective of real-life visits that he often does so that the novels come out as showing what the battleground looked like rather than telling.

“A Blaze of Glory,”the debut novel of the “Civil War” series by Jeff Shaara is set in 1862, where the western Confederate Army is about to collapse after they lost at the battle of Fort Donelson. Albert Johnston the commanding general is forced to abandon the state capital and rally his troops to defend Charleston Railroad and Memphis. Hot on his heels is Ulysses Grant who is beaming with confidence after taking Fort Donelson. If they can crush the confederate army and take the railroad, they will have dealt a blow to the Confederate effort in the west. But Johnston is well aware of their plans and intends to launch a shock attack on the Union encampment in Shiloh. Shaara takes the reader through a maelstrom of the small town of Shiloh and tells the story of the war like no one ever before. He dramatizes the decisions and key actions of Beauregard, Johnston Sherman, Grant, and the renowned Nathan Forrest. He also includes the perspectives of enlisted men, conscripts, and junior officers such as Private Fritz Bauer and Confederate cavalry lieutenant James Seeley.

“A Chain of Thunder” of the “Civil War” series chronicles another decisive American battle. The novel is set in May 1863, where Major General Ulysses Grant managed to cross the Mississippi after several months of bitter and hard combat. They have forced John C Pemberton’s army to flee to Vicksburg, but they had burned several bridges to prevent the pursuing army from crossing the Big Black River. But after two failed assaults and heavy casualties against the rebel army, the morale and confidence of Union Soldiers are low. Grant’s masterstroke is in laying siege to the city where he traps civilians and soldiers alike inside the Federal entrenchment. One and half months later, the destitute and starving southerners cannot take it anymore and abandon the Mississippi to the Union, marking a critical turning point of the war. Drawing on his intimate knowledge and comprehensive research, Shaara writes an excellent narrative from historical fact. On one side stands Grant an emerging general and his deputy William Sherman while the confederates have Joseph Johnston and Pemberton. The novel gives voice to a battle that has reverberated through the years even though it has been one and a half centuries since the war ended.

“The Smoke at Dawn” the third novel of the series is set in 1863, where the Unions Forces are now in command of the entire Mississippi River, thus cementing Ulysses Grant’s reputation. The Federal Army in the east has captured Chattanooga he crucial rail hub under the command of Rosecrans William. But the general is careless and in their pursuit of the confederate forces, they are severely defeated at Chickamauga Creek. The Union army panics and flees back to their base in Chattanooga. The Federal army seems doomed to the fate the confederates had been dealt in Vicksburg. But Abraham Lincoln is disgusted by the happenings and relives general Rosecrans of command and places Ulysses Grant as the overall commander of the entire Union forces. Grant gathers a huge army whose mission is to destroy the confederate forces under general Bragg who is already fighting his subordinates just as much as the Union army. This erases all the advantages the confederates have over the Union army at the worst time. Jeff Shaara blends searing depictions of battle and historical detail to make a beautiful story.

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