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To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World Warby Jeff Shaara
Synopses & Reviews
Jeff Shaara has enthralled readers with his New York Times bestselling novels set during the Civil War and the American Revolution. Now the acclaimed author turns to World War I, bringing to life the sweeping, emotional story of the war that devastated a generation and established America as a world power.
Spring 1916: the horror of a stalemate on Europe?s western front. France and Great Britain are on one side of the barbed wire, a fierce German army is on the other. Shaara opens the window onto the otherworldly tableau of trench warfare as seen through the eyes of a typical British soldier who experiences the bizarre and the horrible — a "Tommy" whose innocent youth is cast into the hell of a terrifying war.
In the skies, meanwhile, technology has provided a devastating new tool, the aeroplane, and with it a different kind of hero emerges — the flying ace. Soaring high above the chaos on the ground, these solitary knights duel in the splendor and terror of the skies, their courage and steel tested with every flight.
As the conflict stretches into its third year, a neutral America is goaded into war, its reluctant president, Woodrow Wilson, finally accepting the repeated challenges to his stance of nonalignment. Yet the Americans are woefully unprepared and ill equipped to enter a war that has become worldwide in scope. The responsibility is placed on the shoulders of General John "Blackjack" Pershing, and by mid-1917 the first wave of the American Expeditionary Force arrives in Europe. Encouraged by the bold spirit and strength of the untested Americans, the world waits to see if the tide of war can finally be turned.
From Blackjack Pershing to the Marine in the trenches, from the Red Baron to the American pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille, To the Last Man is written with the moving vividness and accuracy that characterizes all of Shaara's work. This spellbinding new novel carries readers — the way only Shaara can — to the heart of one of the greatest conflicts in human history, and puts them face-to-face with the characters who made a lasting impact on the world.
"Moving on from the American Revolution and the Civil War, Shaara (The Glorious Cause, etc.) delivers an epic account of the American experience in WWI. As usual, he narrates from the perspective of actual historical figures, moving from the complexity of high-level politics and diplomacy to the romance of the air fight and the horrors of trench warfare. Gen. John J. 'Black Jack' Pershing commands all American forces in France in 1917 — 1918 and must prepare his army for a new kind of war while resisting French and British efforts to absorb his troops into their depleted, worn-out units. Two aviators, American Raoul Lufbery and German Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron) fly primitive aircraft in an air war that introduces new ways to die. And Pvt. Roscoe Temple, U.S. Marine Corps, fights with rifle and bayonet in the mud and blood of Belleau Wood and the Argonne Forest. These men and a supporting cast of other real-life characters provide a gruesomely graphic portrayal of the brutality and folly of total war. Shaara's storytelling is occasionally mechanical — he has yet to rise to the Pulitzer Prize — winning level of his father, Michael Shaara (The Killer Angels, etc.) — but his descriptions of individual combat in the air and the mass slaughter on the ground are stark, vivid and gripping. He also offers compelling portraits of the politicians and generals whose strategies and decisions killed millions and left Europe a discontented wasteland. Forecast: Numbers-wise, this should match Shaara's previous efforts, helped along by a 12-city author tour and vigorous promotion." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Military novelist turns to WWI and fits its sprawling destruction into his usual flat template....Shaara's admittedly impressive command of the details serves less to illuminate a titanic struggle than to keep readers comfortably at a distance." Kirkus Reviews
"Shaara is at his best in describing scenes of battle. He presents the horror of trench warfare in gory but necessary detail....This is first-rate storytelling that aptly describes aspects of a conflict that continues to shape our world today." Booklist
"World War I was murder on an awesome scale, and its impact lives on today. Sadly, it is either minimally understood or totally forgotten — something this book may help correct. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"A gripping account of World War I — from tactics to strategy. The reader feels the horror of the trenches in France and is drawn into the maneuvering of political and military leaders on both sides of the battle. Jeff Shaara shows the dominance of the U.S. military in the context of coalition warfare — as relevant today as it was in 1918." General Tommy R. Franks
"A sweeping, searching look at World War I. Jeff Shaara's novel rings with authenticity, from the feelings of frontline soldiers to the challenges of high-level command." General Wesley Clark
"Jeff Shaara has again demonstrated that rarest of writing gifts, making literature read like history and history read like literature. He has now shone that talent on another era as he brings World War I to pulsating life." Joseph E. Persico, author of Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour
"The best novel about the Great War since Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, which it greatly surpasses in depth, scope, and intensity....This account of how the war was really fought will be a real eye opener for anyone interested in historical fiction or modern history." John Mosier, author of The Myth of the Great War
"A riveting masterpiece revolving around the ghastly conflict that still profoundly defines the world we live in. With To the Last Man, Shaara cements his reputation as a war writer of Tolstoyan or Homeric dimensions." Steve Forbes
"Jeff Shaara's To the Last Man lets you live WWI in the air, in the mud, and in the councils of government in a way that makes you understand how the participants experienced it. Von Richtofen, Lufbery, Ludendorff, and Pershing come alive." Major General John S. Grinalds, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), President, The Citadel
The author of The Glorious Cause tells the spellbinding and emotional story of World War I.
About the Author
Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of The Glorious Cause, Rise to Rebellion, and Gone for Soldiers, as well as Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure — two novels that complete the Civil War trilogy that began with his father's Pulitzer Prize?winning classic The Killer Angels. Jeff was born in 1952 into a family of Italian immigrants in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University. He lives in Missoula, Montana. Visit the author online at www.JeffShaara.com.
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