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A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Wellington described The Battle of Waterloo as 'a close run thin

Wellington described The Battle of Waterloo as 'a close run thing.' The same can be said of the Battle of Shiloh [April 6-7, 1862]. Jeff Shaara's novel Blaze of Glory provides a memorable vision of that suspense filled campaign and battle. Within these two days over 13,...
Wellington described The Battle of Waterloo as 'a close run thing.' The same can be said of the Battle of Shiloh [April 6-7, 1862]. Jeff Shaara's novel Blaze of Glory provides a memorable vision of that suspense filled campaign and battle. Within these two days over 13,000 Federals were killed, wounded, captured or missing; Confederate loses were nearly 11,000 were killed, wounded, captured, and missing. Current estimates are that 15% of those wounded later died of their wounds within 90 days.

Shaara's novel travels several paths to the April 6 and 7 battle, one of which begins in Nashville as the Confederates retreat during the third week of March from Tennessee's capital city. The first four chapters offers the points of view of the Rebel cavalry covering a retreat and of the mind of military theater Confederate commander Albert Sidney Johnston. Audacious plans are formed during desperate times. Shaara then offers three chapters from the Federal point of view from the rank and file and from William T. Sherman, a division commander. In a similar way to Ralph Peters' recent novel Cain at Gettysburg, Shaara
creates compelling voices of German soldiers in the Federal army. Following the pattern of Shaara's previous two Civil War novels and his novels of World War One and Two, he utilizes both actual historic characters and invented characters.

Quickly and somewhat too broadly Shaara covers a lot of ground to get both armies to the battlefield; at times the novel approaches a comprehensiveness that may be found in historians' work on the battle. Yet, Shaara supplies the remarkable details of soldiers' marching during all types of weather and all hours of the day. The weather is wet, the roads are muddy, and the foliage is thick. At times confusion reigns along the battle's front and rear. His remarkable scenes include of the initial discovery by the Federals of the Confederate surprise-at-dawn assault, Sherman's wounding, the looting of the Union camps by Rebels, and the muzzle-too-muzzle gunfights at The Sunken Road, The Hornet's Nest, The Peach Orchard.

Historic and compelling Confederate characters include, among several others, Tennessee governor Isham Harris who became an aide to Johnston and a witness to his battlefield death, and general and hero of Fort Sumter and the Battle of Bull Run, Pierre Bureaugard who is sick and exhausted even before the battle begins. Federal generals Ulysses Grant, William Sherman, Don Carlos Buell and several others collide in competition for glory during the campaign. Shaara does not neglect the failure of commanders with their battle plans and with their lack of battle experience. He counters them with the heroism and courage of the rank and file soldiers who also lacked of battle experience. Both sides are shocked and disheartened by the carnage of 24,000 killed, wounded and missing within 48 hours. Among the dead were the Confederate western theater commander Albert Sidney Johnston who is at the battlefront encouraging a brigade when a bullet clipped an artery behind his knee and he bleeds to death.

Shaara offers a retelling of Nathan Bedford Forrest's wounding and his taking of a hostage at the Battle of Fallen Timbers soon after April 7. This story is a part of the Forrest biography lore but appears to have no actual eyewitnesses. Yet it works well as a finale in the novel. Those readers who enjoy fiction with a Civil War setting are well served by A Blaze of Glory. Shaara provides a sustained glimpse of Johnson's relationship with his headquarters' hostess while the he has Johnson reflecting upon his memories of his wife Eliza, their children and their large Texas plantation, China Grove. Additionally, Shaara offers descripitons of the Federal soldiers fond memories of their ethnic German families and communities. Blaze of Glory is a fine novel of civilians at war, generals in over-their-head, and of southwestern Tennessee terrain that is transformed from a remote frontier to a close and mortal hell.

posted by civiwarlibrarian on July 6, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

This book does a great job of explaining the Battle of Shiloh an

This book does a great job of explaining the Battle of Shiloh and surrounding events, but I thought the fictional quality was lacking. I enjoyed the chapters from Bauer's point of view because they seemed realistic. However, the others seemed to merely tell what was goi...
This book does a great job of explaining the Battle of Shiloh and surrounding events, but I thought the fictional quality was lacking. I enjoyed the chapters from Bauer's point of view because they seemed realistic. However, the others seemed to merely tell what was going on without any feel for the action. Just one man's opinion.

posted by 16599266 on June 16, 2012

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Page 1 of 4
  • Posted July 6, 2012

    Wellington described The Battle of Waterloo as 'a close run thin

    Wellington described The Battle of Waterloo as 'a close run thing.' The same can be said of the Battle of Shiloh [April 6-7, 1862]. Jeff Shaara's novel Blaze of Glory provides a memorable vision of that suspense filled campaign and battle. Within these two days over 13,000 Federals were killed, wounded, captured or missing; Confederate loses were nearly 11,000 were killed, wounded, captured, and missing. Current estimates are that 15% of those wounded later died of their wounds within 90 days.

    Shaara's novel travels several paths to the April 6 and 7 battle, one of which begins in Nashville as the Confederates retreat during the third week of March from Tennessee's capital city. The first four chapters offers the points of view of the Rebel cavalry covering a retreat and of the mind of military theater Confederate commander Albert Sidney Johnston. Audacious plans are formed during desperate times. Shaara then offers three chapters from the Federal point of view from the rank and file and from William T. Sherman, a division commander. In a similar way to Ralph Peters' recent novel Cain at Gettysburg, Shaara
    creates compelling voices of German soldiers in the Federal army. Following the pattern of Shaara's previous two Civil War novels and his novels of World War One and Two, he utilizes both actual historic characters and invented characters.

    Quickly and somewhat too broadly Shaara covers a lot of ground to get both armies to the battlefield; at times the novel approaches a comprehensiveness that may be found in historians' work on the battle. Yet, Shaara supplies the remarkable details of soldiers' marching during all types of weather and all hours of the day. The weather is wet, the roads are muddy, and the foliage is thick. At times confusion reigns along the battle's front and rear. His remarkable scenes include of the initial discovery by the Federals of the Confederate surprise-at-dawn assault, Sherman's wounding, the looting of the Union camps by Rebels, and the muzzle-too-muzzle gunfights at The Sunken Road, The Hornet's Nest, The Peach Orchard.

    Historic and compelling Confederate characters include, among several others, Tennessee governor Isham Harris who became an aide to Johnston and a witness to his battlefield death, and general and hero of Fort Sumter and the Battle of Bull Run, Pierre Bureaugard who is sick and exhausted even before the battle begins. Federal generals Ulysses Grant, William Sherman, Don Carlos Buell and several others collide in competition for glory during the campaign. Shaara does not neglect the failure of commanders with their battle plans and with their lack of battle experience. He counters them with the heroism and courage of the rank and file soldiers who also lacked of battle experience. Both sides are shocked and disheartened by the carnage of 24,000 killed, wounded and missing within 48 hours. Among the dead were the Confederate western theater commander Albert Sidney Johnston who is at the battlefront encouraging a brigade when a bullet clipped an artery behind his knee and he bleeds to death.

    Shaara offers a retelling of Nathan Bedford Forrest's wounding and his taking of a hostage at the Battle of Fallen Timbers soon after April 7. This story is a part of the Forrest biography lore but appears to have no actual eyewitnesses. Yet it works well as a finale in the novel. Those readers who enjoy fiction with a Civil War setting are well served by A Blaze of Glory. Shaara provides a sustained glimpse of Johnson's relationship with his headquarters' hostess while the he has Johnson reflecting upon his memories of his wife Eliza, their children and their large Texas plantation, China Grove. Additionally, Shaara offers descripitons of the Federal soldiers fond memories of their ethnic German families and communities. Blaze of Glory is a fine novel of civilians at war, generals in over-their-head, and of southwestern Tennessee terrain that is transformed from a remote frontier to a close and mortal hell.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012

    H

    SWIRLFUR: orange she cat with white patches. Mate: Batscreech. Kits: Bravepaw, Grasspaw and Shiningpaw and unamed kits. Status: Queen.
    BRAVEPAW: muscular orange tom with white chest paws and tail tip. Mate: none. Status: apprentice
    GRASSPAW: black tom with a white ear. Mate:none. Status: aprrentice
    SHININGPAW: black she cat with blue eyes. Mate:none. Status: apprentice
    C

    2 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2012

    This book does a great job of explaining the Battle of Shiloh an

    This book does a great job of explaining the Battle of Shiloh and surrounding events, but I thought the fictional quality was lacking. I enjoyed the chapters from Bauer's point of view because they seemed realistic. However, the others seemed to merely tell what was going on without any feel for the action. Just one man's opinion.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2012

    A great start to a new trilogy.

    Good to see that Jeff is back where he belongs in the Civil War era. This is a great start to a new trilogy as only he ( or his father) could do. Looking foward to next years installment already!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    Not a boring history book, but close....

    I really enjoyed the WWII Trilogy, so I had high hopes for the Civil War. While the book did keep me engaged, it was more for the visualization of battle lines and outcomes than for anything the characters were doing -- or not doing. This one really was more of a recitation of the events than having anything to do with the people waging and impacted by the war.

    If you are into history, enjoy reading history textbooks, and love to re-hash battle lines and movements, this book is for you. If you are more into the people fighting, political impacts (big picture) and examples of how individuals participated and were affected, look elsewhere.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2013

    Very well told.  It explodes with realism, and places the imagin

    Very well told.  It explodes with realism, and places the imagination into the battlefield.  You see the carnage, you hear the cannon's, and you feel the action around.  Sometimes, for me, it bogged with the telling of troop moements, but it was indeed part of the details that could not be left out.   It fills history with reality.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Yet another tremendous book by Shaara. I won't bog the readers o

    Yet another tremendous book by Shaara. I won't bog the readers of this review down with details but will simply say that if you are a fan of Shaara's historical fiction novels this won't disappoint. I enjoyed this one so much I pre-ordered the second book (A Chain of Thunder) and recieved it the other day. Shaara makes history come alive.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012

    Maizewind

    A slender she cat with a long slim tail and legs, dusty gold pelt like corn in the sunlight. And eyes the color of newly sprouted grass. Shes a hard worker and dedicated to all thing important in her life. Shes a bit stuborn but that can sometimes be a good thing.

    1 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    This was an exceptional novel. Shaara expalins the events leadi

    This was an exceptional novel. Shaara expalins the events leading up to the battle so well and the battle itself was written about in such great detail that everyone could see the tragedy on both sides of the battlefield. I have always said that Gods and Generals was one of my favorite novels of all time. Well, this one is worthy to be placed right next to it. It is a great read for any Civil War buff.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    Great book

    Great book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Wonderful

    I love civil war stories. This one is another great one with so many true facts. I recently visited the Shiloh Battlefield. I was amazed at how they have kept it as original as possible. The bloody pond. The peach trees. Pittsburg Landing and of course, the city of Corinth. Characters come alive and you can feel their pain, confusion and honor and pride. I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2012

    Very Good First Step to New Trilogy

    Unlike other Shaara works where he seems to throw you immediately into "battle", this work spends more time setting the stage for the epic battle at Shiloh. As a result, it was a bit more "reading" to get to the parts that Shaara is known so well for, the minds and soldiering of the actual battle. But once there, it's as good as always and I look forward to book #2!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2012

    Realistic

    I was fascinated with the story! You know it's a great book when it prompts you to get on the computer and study the topic. I did that quite a bit with this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2014

    Snoozer. The Killer Angels is one of my favorites, but every tim

    Snoozer. The Killer Angels is one of my favorites, but every time I talk myself into reading one of the novels by the second generation, the same thing happens....ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz This is neither a good fictional story nor a good historical description of the battle, IMHO.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Chipfoot

    Touches noses with Jigsawpaw.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Vesperpaw and Jigsawpaw

    They touched noses with their mentors.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Furyclaw

    Grinned happily and lowered her head to touch noses with Vesperpaw. c:

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    Makes you feel like you were there.

    I like his style of writing. The mix of historic fact with likely dialogue of the characters who were real and fictitious made the book come alive for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2014

    Mudfall

    Huzzah! Cheering and stuff! Yay! *it snows donuts*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2014

    Earthclaw

    Isnt it funny that l would have chosen lcestar as deputy if l wa chosen as leader? Thank you he dips his head

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