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The Smoke at Dawn: A Novel of the Civil Warby Jeff Shaara
Synopses & Reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Jeff Shaara returns to the Civil War terrain he knows so well, with the latest novel in the series that started with A Blaze of Glory and A Chain of Thunder. In The Smoke at Dawn, the last great push of the Army of the Cumberland sets the stage for a decisive confrontation at Chattanooga that could determine the outcome of the war.
Summer, 1863. The Federal triumph at Vicksburg has secured complete control of the Mississippi River from the Confederacy, cementing the reputation of Ulysses S. Grant. Farther east, the Federal army under the command of William Rosecrans captures the crucial rail hub at Chattanooga. But Rosecrans is careless, and while pursuing the Confederates, the Federal forces are routed in north Georgia at Chickamauga Creek. Retreating in a panic back to Chattanooga, Rosecrans is pursued by the Confederate forces under General Braxton Bragg. Penned up, with their supply lines severed, the Federal army seems doomed to the same kind of defeat that plagued the Confederates at Vicksburg. But a disgusted Abraham Lincoln has seen enough of General Rosecrans. Ulysses Grant is elevated to command of the entire theater of the war, and immediately replaces Rosecrans with General George Thomas. Grant gathers an enormous force, including armies commanded by Joseph Hooker and Grant’s friend, William T. Sherman. Grant’s mission is clear: Break the Confederate siege and destroy Bragg’s army. Meanwhile, Bragg wages war as much with his own subordinates as he does with the Federals, creating dissension and disharmony in the Southern ranks, erasing the Confederate army’s superiority at exactly the wrong time.
Blending evocative historical detail with searing depictions of battle, Jeff Shaara immerses readers in the world of commanders and common soldiers, civilians and statesmen. From the Union side come the voices of Generals Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and George Thomas—the vaunted “Rock of Chickamauga”—as well as the young private Fritz “Dutchie” Bauer. From the Rebel ranks come Generals Bragg, Patrick Cleburne, and James Longstreet, as well as the legendary cavalry commander, Nathan Bedford Forrest. A tale of history played out on a human scale in the grand Shaara tradition, The Smoke at Dawn vividly recreates the climactic months of the war in the West, when the fate of a divided nation truly hangs in the balance.
Praise for The Smoke at Dawn
“The Smoke at Dawn is a beautifully written novel about a battle usually ignored. The historical details and the personal examinations fuse perfectly—with the raw power of the battle meshed hand-in-hand with the inner struggle of the men who determine the fates of others and of nations. Shaara once again elevates history from mere rote fact to explosive and engaging drama.”—Bookreporter
“Shaara’s mastery of military tactics, his intimate grasp of history, and his ability to interweave several supporting narratives into a cohesive and digestible whole as he revisits a catastrophic period in U.S. history will appeal to a broad range of historical- and military-fiction fans.”—Booklist
“Blending historical detail with vivid depictions of battle, Jeff Shaara immerses readers in the world of commanders and common soldiers, civilians and statesmen. . . . The Smoke at Dawn vividly recreates the climactic months of the war in the West, when the fate of a divided nation truly hangs in the balance.”—Huntington News
"Shaara's third volume of four focusing on the 'Ã¢Â€Â˜Western' theater of the Civil War,' after 2013's A Chain of Thunder, is a top-notch war novel. As in his previous books, whether about the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, or the two World Wars, he manages to make the minutiae of troop deployments and battlefield tactics absorbing even for the non-buff. This series is especially appealing for its look at an obscure yet crucial juncture: the 1863 'campaign around Chattanooga,' which here is portrayed as a bellwether of the Confederacy's ability to prevail in the wider conflict. Along well-known figures such as Grant and Sherman are involved, Shaara primarily enables the reader to experience the hell of war through the lower ranks, such as sniper Fritz Bauer. As with the best historical war novels, knowing the ultimate outcome of the bitter fighting is not a bar to engagement. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of A Chain of Thunder, A Blaze of Glory, The Final Storm, No Less Than Victory, The Steel Wave, The Rising Tide, To the Last Man, 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. Shaara was born 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 Gettysburg.
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