Home > Guest Book Review > Guest Book Review: The Works of Jeff Shaara

Guest Book Review: The Works of Jeff Shaara

Welcome to the second entry in the guest reviews series I’m hosting.  Please give your warmest attention to my guest, Jim Peterson!

Meet the Guest:
My name is Jim Peterson, and I’m the Technology Coordinator for the Goodnight Memorial Library in Franklin, KY. I wear two big hats here – both Technical Services Librarian & IT department. I manage the library’s website, fix, build, break (sometimes) and maintain all the computers, servers & network devices. I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen most days. In my down time, I like to do vegetable gardening, landscaping, camp, hunt, fish – you know, all those good ole boy activities – as well as do customization work on my vehicles.

Battle scene on a book cover.Summary:
The works of Jeff Shaara are of historical fiction. What is unique about his books is that they are a chronological account of important periods in American history, as seen through the eyes of those who lived them. Characters are developed from much research, using personal letters, letters from loved ones, diary entries and written records from the periods. The Shaara works give you a true sense of what this country’s forefathers were thinking and feeling, absorbing you into the story as though you were standing right beside them. You hear the cracks of the rifles, the blasts of the canons, and the fiery, passionate rhetoric.

I am going to write about the works of Jeff Shaara, son of Michael Shaara. I feel that I can’t do the author justice without giving a little background on his father, who only published one book that was widely recognized. Michael’s book, The Killer Angels, was rejected by the first 15 publishers who saw the manuscript. It was eventually published in 1973 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. Michael suffered a fatal heart attack in 1988 and never saw the legacy of his work come full circle. Some 19 years after it was published, the film Gettysburg (1993) was based on Killer Angels, and propelled the book to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. Son Jeff rediscovered the manuscript of a baseball story, For Love of the Game, which was released in 1999 as a major motion picture starring Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston.

Jeff Shaara picked up the mantle of his father, Michael Shaara, in turning out great historical fiction after his father passed away in 1988. Jeff continued the story of the Civil War in writing Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure, both of which were well-received with Gods and Generals winning the 1996 ALA William Young Boyd Award and being used as the basis for the motion picture Gods and Generals.

Jeff has also gone back in time, starting with the American Revolution and chronicling the travels and events surrounding Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington, John Hancock, and all the founding fathers of our country. In Rise to Rebellion and The Glorious Cause, you feel the suffering of the men at Valley Forge, and the frustration of George Washington as he tries to assemble and lead an army. You learn that Benjamin Franklin was quite eccentric, even by today’s standards. You feel the arrogance of the British through the eyes of Generals Gage and Cornwallis, as well as the weight of the defeats on both sides.

Jeff Shaara has also remembered to re-educate us on the wars that our own history books touch on only slightly. In Gone for Soldiers, we learn of the dominance of Winfield Scott and the rise of soldiers Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew Jackson. We feel the Mexican heat as the soldiers battle it out against the best that the dictator Santa Anna has.

In all, Jeff Shaara has written nine New York Times Bestsellers. He has written To The Last Man, a novel of the First World war centering around John Pershing, the Red Baron and the Lafayette Escadrille, the wing of American fighter pilots who rebel against the President’s order to stay out of the war and help France fight off the Germans. This was another ALA Boyd Award winner as well.

So far, Shaara has written three novels on the Second World War, following Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, Erwin Rommel, Omar Bradley and several others. They are just as detailed, just as engrossing, and just as not-put-down-able as the first one, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

If you love historical fiction and American history, these books should definitely be on your must-read list.

5 out of 5 stars, every one!

Jeff Shaara’s website and The Goodnight Memorial Library

Check out
Jim on Twitter, Facebook, and his blog!

Thanks to Jim for participating!  If you’re a librarian and would like to take part, please send me an email at opinionsofawolf (at) gmail (dot) com.

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