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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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  • 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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  • 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 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*

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

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Great book

    Amazing that the civil war happened 150 years ago. We have come so far as a nation and this book is a grest reminder of what we have had to endure to get to this point. Although no killer Angels, thid
    S is a very good book on its own merits.

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