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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. 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.


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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. 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.

30 review for The Smoke at Dawn

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    In penning this penultimate novel in his Western Theatre tetralogy as it relates to the US Civil War, Shaara continues to dazzle and enthral readers with his attention to detail. As the previous novel ended, Grant's siege on Vicksburg, Mississippi proved fruitful in keeping the Confederates at bay, isolating them and forcing a massive retreat. In its aftermath, General Ulysses Grant left to fight off in Louisiana and, as the reader learns through the narrative, was injured after an equine mishap In penning this penultimate novel in his Western Theatre tetralogy as it relates to the US Civil War, Shaara continues to dazzle and enthral readers with his attention to detail. As the previous novel ended, Grant's siege on Vicksburg, Mississippi proved fruitful in keeping the Confederates at bay, isolating them and forcing a massive retreat. In its aftermath, General Ulysses Grant left to fight off in Louisiana and, as the reader learns through the narrative, was injured after an equine mishap. However, the War Department saw much left to do and summoned the general to head towards Tennessee, where Chattanooga awaited in the Fall of 1863. Grant surrounded himself with his admired colleague, General William T. Sherman, as they faced down the Confederates, headed by General Braxton Bragg. Grant and Bragg had a history, years before, and this chance to face off against one another proved a highly-anticipated opportunity to utilise the military prowess both felt they possessed, each fighting for a cause they believed was faultless. Bragg found himself utilising the admirable skills of General Patrick Cleburne, Irish blood flowing through his veins but Confederate sympathies in his heart. Bragg and Cleburne sought to outmanoeuvre Sherman and Grant, using the Tennessee fells and fields to their advantage, as Shaara recounts the story of the battle through the eyes of his most trusted military leaders. However, as is common in his series, the story is best told by those in the trenches and on the field of battle, where the reader can turn to Fritz "Dutchie" Bauer. This Union soldier had a coming of age in this novel, moving away from the volunteer that he was upon signing up in Wisconsin and seeking to be an enlisted soldier. This move is not only to diminish the pain of having no family left, but also to prove a point to himself and his friend, Sam Willis, his superior. Bauer's heartfelt passion for the Union and decision to place himself in a life of military service was further solidified as he grew more accustomed to the life of a soldier. The reader will have seen his progression and maturation throughout the series, only to see Bauer suffer a great loss on the battlefield followed soon thereafter by one of a personal nature. Bauer's suffering is felt deeply by the reader, though the narrative continues on, allowing the Union to drive Bragg and Cleburne back, after the Confederates almost toppled the Union forces with deceptive military plotting. This push of Confederate forces back towards Georgia sets up what is sure to be the most captivating final instalment of the series, and which will put Sherman on the map as he controls the entire Union Army in the West. Grant, a victory secured, is summoned to Washington and offered control of the entire Union force, hoping to cut Robert E. Lee off once and for all, as Jefferson Davis watches his successes disintegrate with each passing day. Shaara offers readers a wonderful depiction of the ongoing fighting and personalises the pains and victories, through the eyes of many men (sorry, no Lucy Spence-type female characters this time around). Brilliant and well-worth the effort invested for the attentive and curious reader alike. Those who have followed my reviews of the tetralogy will know that I thoroughly enjoy all that Shaara has to say. This series is of particular interest, as it puts the reader in the minds of a number of well- and lesser-known figures to tell the stories of the Civil War that are not as well broadcast in history texts. I admit that I am still not entirely able to wrap myself in the narrative, more because I struggle with the intense battle descriptions, but the gist of the story is not lost on me. Shaara's writing is both informative and highly intense, exemplifying his research abilities and how he chooses to communicate this in his fiction writing. Keeping some of the key characters from the series (Grant and Bauer) he offers readers some continuity while also a fresh flavour with the addition of new and powerful voices (Bragg and Cleburne), as if more 'villains' were needed for the reader to dislike, but also appreciate. The numerous narrative perspectives offer readers a personal insight into the story, rather than an omnipresent storyteller who can only peer down and subject the reader to detached sentiments. Shaara has prided himself on being able to pull the reader in and does so effortlessly in this recounting. With one novel left, there is still much to do, but building up characters effectively keeps the reader wanting to see what is to come, even if the inevitable outcome has been inculcated into at least some of the readers who paid attention in history class. I cannot wait to see what twists and turns Shaara has to offer, though ending the series will come with mixed emotions. Kudos, Mr. Shaara for bringing the reader to the front lines of another poignant battle in the Western Theatre. I can truly say I am learning much about all aspects of the War and its intricate pieces that make up the greater whole. Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/

  2. 5 out of 5

    happy

    With this latest novel, Mr. Shaara continues his and his father’s tradition of bringing the Civil War to life. In this volume of his Civil War in the West “Trilogy”, the author tells us the story of the Campaign for Chattanooga in the fall of 1863. As usual, he looks at the war from both the high level, he portrays both the Confederate Commander, Braxton Bragg and the Union Commander, US Grant and from the view of the common soldier. To tell this story he once again uses Fritz Bauer from the pre With this latest novel, Mr. Shaara continues his and his father’s tradition of bringing the Civil War to life. In this volume of his Civil War in the West “Trilogy”, the author tells us the story of the Campaign for Chattanooga in the fall of 1863. As usual, he looks at the war from both the high level, he portrays both the Confederate Commander, Braxton Bragg and the Union Commander, US Grant and from the view of the common soldier. To tell this story he once again uses Fritz Bauer from the previous two novels in the series. Mr. Shaara opens the novel as the Union forces are reeling from their crushing defeat at Chickamauga. As they fall back on Chattanooga. He has the Confederate Cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest scouting the Union positions and trying to convince Gen Bragg to attack immediately. The portrait Mr. Shaara paints of Bragg is not the least bit flattering. He summarily dismisses Forrest’s reports and settles into a siege. The author portrays Bragg as very insecure in his command he sees conspiracies against him everywhere. He is so insecure he sends 1/3 of his army off to Knoxville in order not to give James Longstreet any opportunities for glory. His distrust of his senior officers is portrayed as justified. Most of them sign a petition to Jefferson Davis to have him relieved of command. One of the few who don’t sign is Patrick Cleburne, one of his division commanders. Cleburne is portrayed as a very competent commander and is given very difficult assignments for his troubles. His troops are about the only troops that hold their ground when the Union finally assaults Missionary Ridge. The Union side of the story is told through the eyes of Gen’s Grant, Sherman and Thomas. Grant as always is portrayed as calm in the face of disaster. In this case he is trying to stabilize the situation in Chattanooga. Thomas, who is given command of the Army of the Cumberland after Chickamauga, is trying to prove his worth and the worth of his army to Grant. Their relationship is portrayed as very cool. Sherman is now in command of Grant’s old army and is portrayed as anxious to get to Chattanooga and prove his worth. He is slow in getting there and his troops even slower. The soldier’s point of view is once again told thru the eyes of Fritz Bauer. This time he has transferred to the Regular Army (18th Infantry) and Shaara uses this to explore the differences in attitude between regular regiments and the volunteers. He also participates in assault on Missionary Ridge, where the Army of the Cumberland is given a limited objective and when that is accomplished continues right on up to the top without orders. In the conversations between Grant, Thomas and Sherman, the author also gives a look at how the other two major Union commanders, Hooker and Burnsides, were perceived. Hooker‘s corps took Lookout Mountain before the major assaults on Missionary Ridge and Tunnel Hill. The scenes between the various commanders are very well done. Mr. Shaara brings the reader into the command tents of the various generals and gives one an excellent feel of what is was like to be there. About the only problem I had with the novel is Shaara’s portrayal of Bragg. He is so one dimensional as to make one wonder how he got the command in the first place let alone won the Battle of Chickamauga. All in all this is a 4.25 star read – rounded down for GoodReads

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    Shaara pere et fils have authored a number of historical novels, extending from early American history to more contemporary wars. Jeff Shaara has written many such novels; his father famously authored "Killer Angels," with its subject the battle of Gettysburg. The work here focuses on the battle of Chattanooga, with the Union forces in a bad way after a devastating defeat at Chickamauga. As with the other novels by father and son, the action is seen through the eyes of several characters. In this Shaara pere et fils have authored a number of historical novels, extending from early American history to more contemporary wars. Jeff Shaara has written many such novels; his father famously authored "Killer Angels," with its subject the battle of Gettysburg. The work here focuses on the battle of Chattanooga, with the Union forces in a bad way after a devastating defeat at Chickamauga. As with the other novels by father and son, the action is seen through the eyes of several characters. In this work, the Confederate actors include Patrick Cleburne, a hard hitting division commander, and Braxton Bragg, an acerbic and misanthropic commanding general. For the Union side, the voices include Ulysses Grant, George Thomas (the "Rock of Chickamauga"), William Sherman, and an enlisted soldier, Fritz Bauer. The narrative takes us from the dreary siege and the discomfiture experienced by Union troops to Grant's arrival in Chattanooga to defeated general of the Army of the Tennessee, William Rosecrans, being replaced by Thomas, to Sherman's arrival. We are introduced to many characters on both sides. The work takes us through the various stages of the campaign--from opening the "Cracker Line" (probably underdone), to Grant's and Thomas' interactions (fairly accurately portrayed as "cool"), to the arrival of Sherman. On the Confederate side, we see the internecine conflict as Braxton Bragg finds it hard to get along with others. And this does lead me to note that Bragg was difficult, but in this novel, he is portrayed as almost mentally ill--and I am not sure that we can go that far in assessing him. His conflict with James Longstreet and Nathan Bedford Forrest and. . . . does ring true though. We see the gathering of Union forces to assault Confederate positions--at Lookout Mountain, Tunnel Hill, and Missionary Ridge. The details make for compelling reading. In sum, this is a fine historical novel of the Civil War, albeit somewhat clouded by what seems to me to be a unidimensional view of Braxton Bragg.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alexw

    Best book of 2020. Shaara vivid narrative of the horrible food, water and weather are not to be missed. The gallery of history had a letter from General Braxton Bragg describing how he saved Jefferson Davis during the Mexican War which supports why Davis was so loyal to Bragg. Civil War buffs will be enthralled by the intriguing dialogue between Grant and Sherman.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Bartlett

    I have been a fan of Jeff Shaara for some time now and was quite excited when he announced a return to the Civil War. I was even more excited when he said it was going to be a series on the western theater of the war. The third book in the series, The Smoke at Dawn, is about the campaign of Chickamauga and the conclusion of the action there. As it was with his other novels, this book centers on a series of characters and their points of view which is a formula which has worked for him in the pas I have been a fan of Jeff Shaara for some time now and was quite excited when he announced a return to the Civil War. I was even more excited when he said it was going to be a series on the western theater of the war. The third book in the series, The Smoke at Dawn, is about the campaign of Chickamauga and the conclusion of the action there. As it was with his other novels, this book centers on a series of characters and their points of view which is a formula which has worked for him in the past. This book deals with Braxton Bragg and Patrick Cleburne for the Confederacy and Ulysses S. Grant and Private Bauer for the Union. After finishing this book, the question is asked whether or not Mr. Shaara has succeeded in telling a good story. Jeff Shaara is a New York Times bestselling author of many works including A Blaze of Glory and A Chain of Thunder, the other two books in the series on the Civil War in the West. The fourth and final book in the series, The Fateful Lightning, has just been released. Shaara is also the author of Gods and Generals, The Last Full Measure, The Steel Wave and Gone for Soldiers. These are just a few of his works centered around American Military History. I struggled with this book. I think the main reason I struggled was because the other two in the series were quite good and conformed to a formula which worked for The Killer Angels. If there is one thing which I can point to as a weakness for this work it is the overly descriptive narrative which he produces. Throughout the text, there are page long paragraphs describing the thoughts of the commanders and soldiers; all of this is not needed in a book about a campaign. The book about the Chickamauga campaign is also one of the weaknesses. The strength of A Blaze of Glory was its focus on the Battle of Shiloh. This book dragged as it explained the slow movements of the campaign. The narrative focus of the work was also hindered on its characters. Starting with Braxton Bragg as the commander for the Confederate forces, any reader would be frustrated with him within the first one hundred pages. Understandably, Shaara is attempting to create a historically accurate feel to this work, but I’ve never hated a character as much as Braxton Bragg. Throughout all of his chapters, he was incredibly whiny when it came to the insubordination going on around him. The chapters about General Grant were useless and provided little to no narrative push as the novel continued on. The story of Private Bauer was one of the parts of the other books which I thoroughly enjoyed. In this book, I was confused by his actions. In A Chain of Thunder, Private Bauer gets transferred to another regiment by his friend who has recently become an officer. In this book, Bauer requests a transfer to a new regiment which his friend has received a commission as an officer. When I first read this, I wondered why Bauer would even do that since his friend has been quite abusive to him in the rest of the series. At the end of the book, Bauer seems to only have followed his friend as a blind pup who enjoys a little abuse. At the end of the book, Bauer’s story also feels rushed and does not truly end. It should be mentioned that Bauer is not in the final book so this is his last bow in the series. The last character who is given a viewpoint is Patrick Cleburne which had the only enjoyable chapters in the book. I looked forward to his sections of narrative and hoped that there would have been more. There are other people who were given chapters smattered throughout the book, but those four were the main focus of this book and honestly, it fell flat. I attribute this book to be much like a poorly written Martin Scorsese film which peaks early on and drudges toward and end. By the middle of the book, I wanted it to be over and as I thought of it more and more, I realized something. In A Blaze of Glory, Shaara states that the Civil War in the West books will be a trilogy. The Battle of Shiloh would be the first book, the Siege of Vicksburg would be the second, and Sherman’s March to the Sea would be the third. The front flap of the first edition of the second book even states that this series is still going to be a trilogy. However, we get The Smoke at Dawn appearing as the third book in a Saga which now encapsulates the Civil War in the West and the only thing I can say is that this book feels forced. I’m not sure who to blame on this one, whether it be Shaara or his agent. One has to wonder if his agent forced him to write this book in order to add more during the Civil War Sesquicentennial. After reading the opening chapters of The Fateful Lightning, I have to say that The Smoke at Dawn does not feel like his usual work. I would usually say whether or not I recommend this book. I’m not sure. I think there are people who would like this book but I am not one of them. Therefore, I do not recommend this book for Civil War fans. The narrative style was tedious in this work with overly descriptive points that did not need to be made. The characters, with the exception of one, were awful and I forced myself to get through the book. It peaks early and drudges on to the finish. My final opinion would be to tell readers that this does not feel like his usual work. It is a book which feels forced and I can already say that The Fateful Lightning is miles better than this work within the first few chapters. Matthew Bartlett - Gettysburg Chronicle

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jim Bullington

    I consider this the best of Shaara"s books, and I have read them all. It is a wonderful telling of a classic battle. If General Norman Schwartzkopf could have read this book, I believe he would have compared it favorably with The Killer Angels. The General called this book by Shaara's father the best book about a battle that he ever read.My great, great grandfather, Josiah Bullington joined the 16th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry in June, 1861. There were 952 officers and men. By the end of this b I consider this the best of Shaara"s books, and I have read them all. It is a wonderful telling of a classic battle. If General Norman Schwartzkopf could have read this book, I believe he would have compared it favorably with The Killer Angels. The General called this book by Shaara's father the best book about a battle that he ever read.My great, great grandfather, Josiah Bullington joined the 16th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry in June, 1861. There were 952 officers and men. By the end of this battle they had 212. This book gives me insight into what he and the other soldiers endured. I look forward to the next book in this series. My admiration for Jeff Shaara continues to grow.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alger

    I think I am done with Shaara. There has been a drift in the style and scope of Jeff Shaara's novels toward more politics and repeating characters and more sweeping vistas and campaign length episodes. None of this would be bad in and of itself, but Shaara is a limited author writing in a formula lifted from his father's 40 year old best seller. This expanding scope has made the three primary weaknesses to Jeff's writing impossible to ignore. These are, in the order that they make Shaara's books I think I am done with Shaara. There has been a drift in the style and scope of Jeff Shaara's novels toward more politics and repeating characters and more sweeping vistas and campaign length episodes. None of this would be bad in and of itself, but Shaara is a limited author writing in a formula lifted from his father's 40 year old best seller. This expanding scope has made the three primary weaknesses to Jeff's writing impossible to ignore. These are, in the order that they make Shaara's books impossible to read: 1. Characterization: Jeff Shaara has stopped trying to make his characters distinct in voice or action. This has always been a problem of his novels, but in his earlier books he made efforts to make the voice of the protagonists 'authentic' by copying language from their letters and other writings. This gave his actors a strange affect, one where they spoke only in complete sentences full of literary allusions and poetic flights in the midst of a gun fight, but at least they were distinct people. In these later books Shaara has naturalized the dialog, and improved the readability, but in exchange we lose the vividness and individuality of the characters. Along with the dialog, there is an absence of distinguishable personal descriptions and actions. Repetition of scenes and dialog: Not only within the book, but within the series, Shaara has apparently run out of ways (or has stopped trying) to make his descriptions fresh. Were Shaara to make this repetition a conscious part of the narrative, to emphasize the sameness of war no matter what the scene of battle, that would be admirable. Instead we are given the same generic discussions and situations and observations as if they were novel and important. Often there is no importance to these scenes, which is why Shaara can duplicate them and only bore the reader. Simplified politics (national/personal): Somewhere along the way, Jeff has decided that high-level national politics needed to be addressed more directly in the novels. This should have been a real addition to the depth of the series, but for some reason he chose not to remove some of the action out of the area of campaign so that we could hear these political discussions as they might have actually been discussed. Instead we hear about the national level through exegesis in the general's quarters. Let me point out that not even politicians can make politics interesting, and the Civil War Politics For Dummies that flows from the mouths of Jefferson Davis, Stanton, and Dana is clumsy and dull. It is also both highly partisan (reflecting the opinions of the speaker) yet also weirdly comprehensive (to fill in the reader). Understandably including national politics is always going to be somewhat awkward, but what Shaara has done here is written a selective political history that serves his plot more than the past. Then there is the problem of caricature that stands in for characterization of high level commanders. Their personal politics certainly come into play in any discussion of the Chattanooga campaign, given the tensions and shuffling of commanders, but Jeff has fallen into a pattern of the winning generals being virtuous and natural leaders while the losers are generally repellent and uninspiring. Bragg's interactions with his staff are embarrassments on par with the constant descriptions of grudging and growing admiration of Grant. Where the previous two novels were stories of Sherman's man-crush on Grant, in this novel it is Gen. Thomas' turn to constantly admire Ulyss with a lover's eyes. The original model for this series, The Killer Angels, succeeded for several reasons. It was a book that broke up the chaotic simultaneous events of the Battle at Gettysburg into events that became understandable as we saw them through the eyes of the men in the battle. Although Lee and Meade were also viewpoints upon the battle, our understanding of what happened comes from Buford and Chamberlain and Longstreet's views, the commanders who pushed men into the battle with their own example and words, the men who faced bullets and cannon fire alongside their men. Jeff has stepped back from the front lines for the most part, and when we do descend into the maelstrom we see it through the eyes of a trooper who has no strategic view of the action. So where this leaves us in in a series that is increasingly about the personal war of Ulysses Grant, and less about the war itself. I find this objectionable because I already have the story of Grant's own war; it was written by his own hand and is infinitely better written. On the upside, Jeff dropped the strictly first-person narrative style of the earlier books to drop in interrupting sub-chapters of exposition. The relief is that it gets rid of the need for the chapters in the earlier books that described some small but necessary development in too much detail.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    The author Refers to his work as fiction because of some of the dialogue he add libbed but with much research I feel that he caught the moments much as they happened. That was a Nasty war with lots of deaths due to orders over common sense. Order; "Go up that hill." Common Sense; "Screw that, they are waiting with tons of guns and artillery, Lets just wait for them to get hungry and come down." That being said, This was a Good Read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    I hungered for this book! I am a great fan of Shaara’s work. I didn’t get the ARC, but Seattle Public Library came through. Had it not done so, this is one of the very few books for which I would have paid full jacket price. Shaara writes historical fiction about American wars, sometimes in the form of trilogies, and here he wraps up a trilogy on the Western campaign of the American Civil War. The scenario: Rosecrans, the Union officer who heads the Army of the Cumberland, has had a strong victor I hungered for this book! I am a great fan of Shaara’s work. I didn’t get the ARC, but Seattle Public Library came through. Had it not done so, this is one of the very few books for which I would have paid full jacket price. Shaara writes historical fiction about American wars, sometimes in the form of trilogies, and here he wraps up a trilogy on the Western campaign of the American Civil War. The scenario: Rosecrans, the Union officer who heads the Army of the Cumberland, has had a strong victory followed by a stunning defeat. First he used brilliant gamesmanship and planning to attack and take Chattanooga; this went largely unnoticed by the press, which was beside itself, understandably, over the twin victories of Vicksburg and Gettsburg. But then, unfortunately, Rosecrans pushed his luck too far, getting his ass kicked and a lot of good men dead at Chickamauga. The result was that he ran like hell, dug himself in, and refused to go forth again. Unfortunately, the Confederate troops led by Braxton Bragg cornered him and he was besieged. When Grant was given overall command of armies in the west, he was asked to choose whether to keep Rosecrans in place, or send him packing and promote George Thomas. He chose the latter. Shaara is generally brilliant at crafting character based upon the historical record. I found Bragg to be almost a caricature—and hell, for all I know, maybe he didn’t have many good characteristics from which to draw; I haven’t studied him much. Grant is portrayed with warmth in a way that sits right with me; the same holds true for Sherman. Thomas has always been something of an enigma, and he clearly is for Shaara also. Sherman and Grant both said in their memoirs that he was slow. (My own memory of Sherman’s is a letter to Grant in which he says, “We both know Thomas is a little slow,” and I sensed irony and understatement in his tone). Yet other historians swear that he was in fact misunderstood. Shaara gives him the benefit of the doubt while allowing for some ambiguity. I read my copy digitally, and I was pleased at the way I was able to zoom important maps that made it much more possible to see what troops were moving where. The most controversial aspect, judging from what other reviewers have said about this trilogy, is the creation of Bauer. When I have wanted to confer 4.5 stars on one of his novels in this series, I round up, and it is for Bauer that I do so. Bauer is the only character that is entirely fictional, but Shaara chose to create him to represent that nameless, faceless soldier who represented the vast number of those who bore the greatest burden. They didn’t become famous or have their belongings shown in museums. It’s rare to find a foot soldier’s whole story. Some kept journals, but these were often lost during a battle, scuttled during a hard march when everything non-essential got tossed on the road, or drenched in rain or during a river crossing. No journalist ever followed a humble private around to record his experiences and opinions. For his effort to include the every-man in spite of the flack he would endure from the purists among his readership, I give Shaara high marks. Next up: Shaara will tackle Sherman’s march through Georgia, through the flames of Atlanta, to the sea. This is my favorite part of the whole thing, and I am excited as I look forward to reading it. If you enjoy historical fiction based on the American Civil War, and especially if you do not harbor any cherished sentiments toward the dead lost “Cause”, you can’t go wrong with this one. Historical fiction at its best, from a master of the genre.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    The bells of the South in 1863 rang death knells, not peals of joyous victory. In July, on the same day that Lee's army suffered a staggering loss at Gettysburg, General Grant of the Union army took possession of Vicksburg, and within it gained complete command of the Mississippi river. The South fractured and its strength wasted, the Confederates needed a fresh triumph. In November, General Braxton Bragg commanding rebel forces in Tennessee thought he might be the man to deliver it. After routi The bells of the South in 1863 rang death knells, not peals of joyous victory. In July, on the same day that Lee's army suffered a staggering loss at Gettysburg, General Grant of the Union army took possession of Vicksburg, and within it gained complete command of the Mississippi river. The South fractured and its strength wasted, the Confederates needed a fresh triumph. In November, General Braxton Bragg commanding rebel forces in Tennessee thought he might be the man to deliver it. After routing a Union army, he cornered them in Chattanooga, where he hoped a quick siege would see their surrender and regain the South its lost momentum. The Smoke at Dawn is the story of the Chattanooga Campaign, of armies stumbling in the night through battlefields that soar into the sky. It's also the tale of commanding personalities, of men set at odds even against their comrades. The third book in Shaara's new Civil War series is a third triumph for the author -- and General Grant. Like Shaara's other works, The Smoke at Dawn is a swiftly-moving narrative composed largely of the thoughts and conversations of generals commanding the battle. This combined with more conventional narration is highly effective at putting the reader into the generals' position without being rambling. Many of the characters are familiar names; Grant, Longstreet, and Sherman among them. The greatest maneuvers and best battlefield performances, however, are put on by generals who fame has ignored. The focus on the generals from across the field give the reader a strategic understanding of what is happening, allowing witness of the way the armies wrangled around one another, attempting to control supply lines or use the river to land by stealth and deliver devastating stealth attacks. The river puts the generals in the curious place of sometimes being closer to their foes than their friends; Generals Thomas and Grant, commanding, can view Burnside's own headquarters from their own positions. As in his more recent work, Shaara also employs a few infantrymen to deliver combat scenes; the most notable here is Fritz Bauer, a Wisconsin orphan who would be alone in the world were it not for his best friend Willis. When Willis leaves the volunteers for the regular army, Bauer follows suit, and their course through the campaign gives not only plentiful action scenes, but the realization that soldiers often fought not for ideals but for their comrades. The book as a whole is steeped in the power of human relationships; the obstinate and autocratic Braxton Bragg's contemptuous attitude toward his subordinates withers away his own army's effectiveness. He earns no one's trust save Jefferson Davis', spending the entire battle fighting with his own officers and once sending an entire corps away just to be delivered from a potential threat to his authority. Between Bauer's devotion and Bragg's contempt is the happy medium of rivalry, most prominently Sherman's running duel with his equally highly effective Confederate counterpart. Despite Sherman's reputation and Grant's high esteem of him, Sherman can't seem to best Patrick Cleburne. For all of Bragg's discipline and Sherman's speed, however, ultimately the battle's upset is decided by unpredictable forces -- like a diversionary force that advances further than planned, attempting to avoid being slaughtered by artillery, and results in routing an entire army. Readers of Civil War fiction will find The Smoke at Dawn most attractive. The fourth book in Shaara's series will concern the Fall of Atlanta.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This novel is the third in a series of 4 novels about the Western Theater of the Civil War. I haven't read the first 2 in the series so now I have to back track. I previously read & enjoyed Jeff Shaara's "Gods and Generals" and "The Last Full Measure", which are the prequel and sequel to his father's (Michael Shaara) classic, "The Killer Angels", about Gettysburg. "The Smoke at Dawn" is about the battles to raise the Confederate's siege of Chattanooga. For anyone who isn't familiar with the Batt This novel is the third in a series of 4 novels about the Western Theater of the Civil War. I haven't read the first 2 in the series so now I have to back track. I previously read & enjoyed Jeff Shaara's "Gods and Generals" and "The Last Full Measure", which are the prequel and sequel to his father's (Michael Shaara) classic, "The Killer Angels", about Gettysburg. "The Smoke at Dawn" is about the battles to raise the Confederate's siege of Chattanooga. For anyone who isn't familiar with the Battle(s) of Chattanooga, I recommend Peter Cozzens' "The Shipwreck of Their Hopes" or Wiley Sword's "Mountains Touched With Fire". Nathan Bedford Forrest makes a brief but memorable appearance but he mainly serves as an illustration of how Braxton Bragg, one of the main characters, deals with real or perceived enemies within his own army, often to the exclusion of effectively dealing with Grant's armies. Other main characters are Patrick Cleburne, one of the best Confederate generals, Grant, Sherman, George Thomas, and an invented character, "Dutchie" Bauer, a common soldier in the Army of the Cumberland. Bauer is placed where he is to describe the Union's assault on Missionary Ridge. James Longstreet also makes an appearance in this novel. Jeff Shaara's treatment of Longstreet versus how Longstreet is portrayed in "The Killer Angels" is interesting. But then Longstreet fared quite differently as a Corps commander under Lee then he did with his independent commands at Suffolk and Knoxville. The author spends a lot of time, and does a good job, with the internal squabbles within the Confederate Army of Tennessee. He also displays, I think, a pretty deft and evenhanded portrayal of the tensions between Grant and Thomas. Yet this novel doesn't have any hints that there might have been bad blood between Grant and Thomas stemming from Thomas and Buell coming to reinforce Grant at Shiloh or what happened after Halleck kicked Grant "upstairs" as 2nd in command (but with nothing to do, which almost caused Grant to resign, until Sherman talked him out of it) between Shiloh and Corinth. Likewise the author describes an awkward chance meeting between Grant and Rosecrans at a rail station following Rosecran's removal from command but he never alludes to any tension between Grant and Rosecrans following the Battle of Iuka (see the current issue of Civil War Times). At the end of this novel the author drops a hint that the 4th book in the series will cover Sherman's March to the Sea (and possibly his March through the Carolinas?). I kind of wish that Jeff Shaara would write a novel about Hood's 1864 Tennessee Campaign. Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville provide plenty of drama. And he can bring back Thomas, Forrest and Cleburne. I'm curious to see how he would portray Hood. I enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading the books in this series.

  12. 5 out of 5

    patrick Lorelli

    This is the battle of Chickamauga and for whatever reason General Rosecrans gives up the high ground and retreats to Chattanooga. By now President Lincoln has decided to put Grant in charge of the army and the first thing does is relives Rosecrans and puts General George Thomas who is already there in command. He then orders Generals Sherman and Hooker, to Chattanooga. When Grant arrives the first thing he sees is that they must open a supply route plus a line that will flake the Confederates th This is the battle of Chickamauga and for whatever reason General Rosecrans gives up the high ground and retreats to Chattanooga. By now President Lincoln has decided to put Grant in charge of the army and the first thing does is relives Rosecrans and puts General George Thomas who is already there in command. He then orders Generals Sherman and Hooker, to Chattanooga. When Grant arrives the first thing he sees is that they must open a supply route plus a line that will flake the Confederates that have the high ground. The only way is by building a floating bridge which gets started. On the opposite side General Braxton Bragg, is really not doing anything except watching the North digging in, in front of Chattanooga. It is like he does not want to come off the mountain but now his problems are greater because his Generals are protesting his non action to Richmond. He ends up fighting with two of the strongest Southern Generals in Longstreet and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Their point of view is to attack before more Northern troops arrive. They still have an advantage. Bragg is content with doing nothing and really the best he did was get Longstreet and Forrest removed from the area. Once Grant is there it is just a matter of time before he will attack. The way the story is told is done nicely once again by Mr. Shaara, using historical facts and others records to make for an interesting story about another battle that was lost because a General did not want to act. Thinking he could out wait someone else, not listening to his other staff. Take Longstreet, he was Grants best man at Grants wedding yet not many people asked him how he would fight. When they did he would say he will continue to attack until he has victory. Vicksburg should have told these men, for they said it could not be done and though it took him mouths trying it finally paid off with success. This battle would be the same but a good way to tell the story. a very enjoyable read. I got this book from net galley.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mac

    I have a conflicted relationship with Jeff Shaara's work and with historical fiction in general. The potential advantage of writing as Shaara does is that he can give insight into characters and dramatic situations in a way that is not possible in a straight historical telling of the same events. Successful examples of this approach would be Shakespeare's history plays (however dubious they may be as far as facts) or, most relevantly, Jeff's father Michael Shaara's "Killer Angels," a dramatizati I have a conflicted relationship with Jeff Shaara's work and with historical fiction in general. The potential advantage of writing as Shaara does is that he can give insight into characters and dramatic situations in a way that is not possible in a straight historical telling of the same events. Successful examples of this approach would be Shakespeare's history plays (however dubious they may be as far as facts) or, most relevantly, Jeff's father Michael Shaara's "Killer Angels," a dramatization of the Battle of Gettysburg that gets to the heart of the matter. "The Smoke at Dawn" tells the story of the siege of Chattanooga, after the Confederate Army of Tennessee had defeated the Union forces at the Battle of Chickamauga. The cast of characters includes Braxton Bragg and Patrick Cleburne on the Confederate side, and Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and George Thomas on the Union side. For about the first half of the book, I found Shaara's rendering of the story quite interesting and dramatic. But after a while, his writing tics began to grate on me. Every character thinks and speaks with the same rhetorical gestures, as if his face were permanently etched into a grizzled wince. My question to myself while reading "The Smoke at Dawn" was, am I getting something from this that I couldn't get from a well-written campaign history of this segment of the CIvil War? Sadly, my answer is no.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    In this third (out of four) novel about the western theater of the Civil War Jeff Shaara once again gives tribute to an aspect of the Civil War that gets much less popular attention, but was instrumental in the Union’s success. This text focuses on the siege at Chattanooga and the Battle of Missionary Ridge, a part of the war I knew little about. Shaara’s research easily makes it come alive. The format of “The Smoke at Dawn” is the same as his other novels, point of views alternate each chapter f In this third (out of four) novel about the western theater of the Civil War Jeff Shaara once again gives tribute to an aspect of the Civil War that gets much less popular attention, but was instrumental in the Union’s success. This text focuses on the siege at Chattanooga and the Battle of Missionary Ridge, a part of the war I knew little about. Shaara’s research easily makes it come alive. The format of “The Smoke at Dawn” is the same as his other novels, point of views alternate each chapter from character’s perspectives. All of the point of view characters are historical figures with the exception of Union private Fritz Bauer (who appeared in the previous 2 novels in this series). Generals Grant and Sherman also return, new to this text are CSA officers Braxton Bragg and Patrick Cleburne. Bragg might be the most unlikable character I have come across in a Shaara novel, and the author based this characterization on what we know of the historical man. A person whose vanity and ego destroyed many lives. Shaara is not a great writer, but he is certainly an improved writer and the novel held my attention each time I picked it up. And I am always impressed at how well he renders battle from the perspective of the common solider. It is harrowing at times and well done. “The Smoke at Dawn” pushes us one step closer to the war’s end and I will most certainly finish the series. If you like historical fiction, and the Civil War in particular, Mr. Shaara is your go to guy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Burd

    While this book is a continuation of Shaara's Civil War historical novels, it is the first one that I read. In this book Shaara picks up at the battle at Chickamauga and ends after the battle on Lookout Mountain. Shaara is an excellent storyteller and each chapter is told through the viewpoint of different characters ranging from generals, to officers, to enlisted men. The book is carefully researched and accurate in detail, but the strength of the writing lies in the development of the characte While this book is a continuation of Shaara's Civil War historical novels, it is the first one that I read. In this book Shaara picks up at the battle at Chickamauga and ends after the battle on Lookout Mountain. Shaara is an excellent storyteller and each chapter is told through the viewpoint of different characters ranging from generals, to officers, to enlisted men. The book is carefully researched and accurate in detail, but the strength of the writing lies in the development of the characters. Shaara reveals the relationships between the chief officers on both sides of the battle and discusses how their knowledge of one another's strategy and personality informed the attacks and counterattacks. The failure of Bragg and the rise of Grant is a major focus of the book, but Shaara also provides an analysis of the war from the perspective of the men in the trenches on both sides. Of most interest is the reflection on the decision-making of the generals and how strategy was often dictated by their own personal fears and professional aspirations. It's also interesting that outcomes were determined by factors that had nothing to do with good strategy. This book is well-written, well-researched, and an intriguing read for anyone who appreciates historical novels and especial is interested in the Civil War.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This is the third novel in the Civil War Trilogy of the Western Theater, by Jeff Shaara. The focus in on Chattanooga, and more specifically the battle of Mission Ridge. It is definitely one of Shaara's best. From the outset, Shaara illustrates the tension on both sides, showing the difficulties with certain commanders. In the north, Lincoln solves the problem by placing General Ulysses S. Grant in command of the Union forces in the West. Jefferson Davis opts to continue with General Braxton Bragg This is the third novel in the Civil War Trilogy of the Western Theater, by Jeff Shaara. The focus in on Chattanooga, and more specifically the battle of Mission Ridge. It is definitely one of Shaara's best. From the outset, Shaara illustrates the tension on both sides, showing the difficulties with certain commanders. In the north, Lincoln solves the problem by placing General Ulysses S. Grant in command of the Union forces in the West. Jefferson Davis opts to continue with General Braxton Bragg in command, despite a petition signed by twelve of his senior generals demanding Bragg be relieved of duty. It would prove to be a mistake. Like the previous two novels, Shaara uses not only the generals, but lower officers and the guy with the musket, Private Fritz Bauer, to tell the story of this pivotal battle. Unlike the last novel, The Chain of Thunder, this one gripped me from the first few pages, and held me all the way to the end.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Another excellent installment from a truly gifted writer. What makes this book great is its approach to the story telling. Most historians writing about the Civil War specifically, or history in general, try to fact in as many factoids and asides to demonstrate how much knowledge they have in the field. Jeff Shaara skips all that instead focusing on the characters themselves. Sure, there are battles going on which he details but not from a minute standpoint but from an overall prospective and how Another excellent installment from a truly gifted writer. What makes this book great is its approach to the story telling. Most historians writing about the Civil War specifically, or history in general, try to fact in as many factoids and asides to demonstrate how much knowledge they have in the field. Jeff Shaara skips all that instead focusing on the characters themselves. Sure, there are battles going on which he details but not from a minute standpoint but from an overall prospective and how it plays into the lives of the participants. This book pulled me in and made me feel a part of the story. What's more, the technique and brilliance with which this story is told, makes me forget all I know about the War and leaves me turning pages to figure out what will happen. Each page is like a new event. I almost forgot who won.

  18. 5 out of 5

    David Eppenstein

    I have read all of Shaara's books and have never found fault with any of them. This latest work is another faultless addition to this author's body of work. While all of his books are classified historical fiction this is only because all the dialogue contained in the books is invented. Shaara, however, invents his dialogues with meticulous care and accuracy to the character being featured that it only enhances the history. While I know he is working on a Korean War book and his present series h I have read all of Shaara's books and have never found fault with any of them. This latest work is another faultless addition to this author's body of work. While all of his books are classified historical fiction this is only because all the dialogue contained in the books is invented. Shaara, however, invents his dialogues with meticulous care and accuracy to the character being featured that it only enhances the history. While I know he is working on a Korean War book and his present series has another addition yet to come I do wish he could consider a book not involving war. I would think there are American historical events worthy of Shaara's attention and would love to read his treatment of them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    If you’re a Jeff Shaara fan, you know the first two books in his western Civil War trilogy were disappointing. “Smoke at Dawn” continues in the same frustrating slow pace, this time focusing on the Army of the Cumberland (along with Grant and Sherman) and their decisive confrontation at Chattanooga against Braxton Bragg. Unfortunately, there seems to be too much attention on who ate what for breakfast and not enough “fighting” to keep your interest. Shaara, who is superb at writing about battles If you’re a Jeff Shaara fan, you know the first two books in his western Civil War trilogy were disappointing. “Smoke at Dawn” continues in the same frustrating slow pace, this time focusing on the Army of the Cumberland (along with Grant and Sherman) and their decisive confrontation at Chattanooga against Braxton Bragg. Unfortunately, there seems to be too much attention on who ate what for breakfast and not enough “fighting” to keep your interest. Shaara, who is superb at writing about battles, could easily have added a few more engagements (like Chickamauga) to this installment. There is no question that Shaara is a gifted writer, but this series simply bogs down in too much detail, causing you to lose your patience.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Another fine story from Jeff Shaara! A difficult time is brought to life and easier to understand through the Shaara formula of projecting the personalities onto historical figures while staying true to the events. While reading I sometimes had to put the book down because of the overwhelming urge to smack General Bragg, among others; it's this emotional reaction to the book that lures me into every single Shaara novel. I know I will walk away with a feel for the real life people and choices the Another fine story from Jeff Shaara! A difficult time is brought to life and easier to understand through the Shaara formula of projecting the personalities onto historical figures while staying true to the events. While reading I sometimes had to put the book down because of the overwhelming urge to smack General Bragg, among others; it's this emotional reaction to the book that lures me into every single Shaara novel. I know I will walk away with a feel for the real life people and choices they made and it only adds to my appreciation of the past. I received a copy of this title through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway, but it does not impact my review nor my admiration for the author.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rob Roy

    We all know a bit about the Civil War, but mainly the war in the east. Shaara sets to change this with a set of for fictional books, this being the third in the series. I say fiction, but the line is thin. These are histories with fictional content. This is his best so far, telling the story of the battle of Chattanooga in all its gory detail. The story is told from both sides, with courage and bravery knowing no uniform color.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    This is about the battle of Chattanooga which is a battle I've always found fascinating, and I'm a huge Jeff Shaara fan...so I was excited! I was, however, disappointed in the first half of this book but the last half was more exciting and pushed it to 4 stars for me. Looking forward to the final installment of this "4 book trilogy."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Doug Tabner

    I have never read a Jeff Shaara book I didn't thoroughly enjoy. This one, however, has inspired me to scrap my summer vacation plans and start over so that I can visit the battlefields featured in this book, Chickamauga and Chattanooga. I'm not sure that I can give it any higher praise than that.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jim Becker

    This is the 7th Shaara book I've read. I like historical fiction and how Shaara writes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Max Knight

    "The Smoke at Dawn" is the third novel by Jeff Shaara focusing on the campaigns fought in the Western Theater of operations during America's Civil War. It picks up in the summer of 1863. The fall of Vicksburg, the Gibraltar of the South, has given the Union Army complete control of the Mississippi River, setting the stage for the Army of the Cumberland under the leadership of William Rosecrans to capture the crucial railroad hub in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Temporarily victorious, Rosecrans over ex "The Smoke at Dawn" is the third novel by Jeff Shaara focusing on the campaigns fought in the Western Theater of operations during America's Civil War. It picks up in the summer of 1863. The fall of Vicksburg, the Gibraltar of the South, has given the Union Army complete control of the Mississippi River, setting the stage for the Army of the Cumberland under the leadership of William Rosecrans to capture the crucial railroad hub in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Temporarily victorious, Rosecrans over extends the Federal forces under his command and suffers a disastrous defeat at Chickamauga Creek. He is relieved by President Lincoln and replaced by Ulysses Simpson Grant who must now come to the relief of Rosecrans' forces besieged at Chattanooga by Confederate General Braxton Bragg. Much of Shaara's book focuses on the battles at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, and the commanders and common soldiers who fought there. In addition to generals Grant and Sherman, George Thomas emerges as the primary force behind the eventual Union victory. Self-effacing, deliberate in his preparations and actions, he will be criticized by his more famous contemporaries for his attention to detail that, while successful, doesn't allow for a rapid advance against the enemy. The dynamics of strategies, tactics, and leadership are also central to understanding the Confederate defeat at Chattanooga. Braxton Bragg sees no failing in himself, yet his subordinate commanders have little respect for their leader and even less loyalty. They petition Jefferson Davis for his removal. Bragg, of course, sees everything through the lens of a conspiracy against him and places blame for every failure on someone else, notably General James Longstreet who he believes is responsible for the criticisms against him. He will order Longstreet to Knoxville, removing a thorn in his side but significantly weakening his own army. In contrast to the disastrous lack of leadership by Bragg, Patrick Cleburne will be recognized for his extraordinary defense against Sherman's troops. He will be blindsided by Bragg's capitulation and by his orders to abandon the ground that his soldiers have so tenaciously defended. Instructed to cover the Confederates' withdrawal, his men will act as the army's rear guard tasked with holding off any pursuit by the victorious Yankees. "The Smoke at Dawn" was meant to be the cornerstone of a three part series by Jeff Shaara. But like the war, another chapter was yet to be written in Atlanta, Georgia. That story is told in his companion book, "The Fateful Lightening." I've previously expressed my admiration for Jeff Shaara's work; he is my favorite Civil War author. If this four-star review reflects a somewhat less glowing critique, it is probably because I've tried to accomplish a re-reading of this tetralogy in too short a time frame. Just as the war would extend over four bloody years, Shaara released each of his four books a year apart. That spacing allows the reader a fuller understanding of the momentous historical events that transpired as well as a better appreciation of the detailed research that went into each installment.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Grant Masson

    The third of four books on the 'Western' campaign of the American Civil War takes us deeper into the conflicts that raged (primarily) throughout Tennessee and Georgia whilst most of the press interest both at the time and these days, is and was focused on the Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the various men who commanded the Union Army of the Potomac. As has been his trademark, Shaara takes us deep into the mind's of some of the major protagonists of the campaign around C The third of four books on the 'Western' campaign of the American Civil War takes us deeper into the conflicts that raged (primarily) throughout Tennessee and Georgia whilst most of the press interest both at the time and these days, is and was focused on the Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the various men who commanded the Union Army of the Potomac. As has been his trademark, Shaara takes us deep into the mind's of some of the major protagonists of the campaign around Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Lookout Mountain, going beyond what is written in so many textbooks to present a more humanized view of the great struggle between the Union and the Confederacy. That Shaara has turned his attention to a mostly-forgotten part of the devastating war does great justice to those who fell on battlefields west of the fight being waged in and around Washington, D.C. Everything from the bickering and political posturing amongst the Confederate generals to Ulysses S. Grant's rise through the ranks of the Union Army to Private Fritz Bauer, the Milwaukee native whose Army career Shaara has traced in both previous books - A Blaze of Glory & A Chain Of Thunder - and his travels from a volunteer regiment to the hardened professional ranks of the United States Army. We come to understand that Confederate General Braxton Bragg does not seem to trust anyone aside from those on his staff, those who are very close to him, just as we realize, through General William T. Sherman's eyes, that Bragg's rebels, dug in on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, aren't going to easily be shifted. The political backdrop, men on both sides using their connections in Washington D.C. or Richmond, to try and advance their cause, or stunt the careers of others, is as fascinating as it is horrifying. You wonder how many months of the war might have been saved, had the men on both sides fought together as a united army, rather than spending half their time trying to undermine superiors or subordinates. Whatever the reasoning for it, Shaara does a great job of describing and portraying the frustration of all those caught up as pawns in a larger political battle. As always, the battle scenes are brilliant, putting the reader right into the middle of the firing line. At times, it's gut-wrenching and devastating. The final pages of the book make for shocking reading, events occurring within that truly drive home the horror of war, and especially of war between two nations so intertwined for so long.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Terrell

    This is the third book in Shaara's four-book series on the Western Campaign of the Civil War. This book focuses on the "Battle Above the Clouds" for Tennessee. It was effectively the South's final battle to maintain control of the South west of the Appalachians. As with all of Shaara's books, he tries to make the history and the details of the Civil War come alive by telling the story through the eyes of the combatants. They are historically accurate, but rather than dry historical recitations, This is the third book in Shaara's four-book series on the Western Campaign of the Civil War. This book focuses on the "Battle Above the Clouds" for Tennessee. It was effectively the South's final battle to maintain control of the South west of the Appalachians. As with all of Shaara's books, he tries to make the history and the details of the Civil War come alive by telling the story through the eyes of the combatants. They are historically accurate, but rather than dry historical recitations, Shaara puts words and thoughts with the generals, officers and enlisted men as they march into history. I do find Shaara's dialog at times to be a bit staged, as if the figures are pontificating on the momentous events at hand and their place in history. But the books are storytelling that keeps the reader engaged and offer a wonderful insight that many history books simply lack. Highly recommended for anyone interested in history or a good historical story. I do suggest reading the Western Campaign series in order. It helps put the significance of the often-ignored military campaigns between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River in a more proper historical context, and it also helps to follow the development of Grant and the other personalities as they move from Shilo, to Vicksburg, to Chattanooga, and eventually in the fourth book, on Sherman's final conquest of the south on his march to the sea.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephen P

    Admittedly, I am a fan of Jeff Shaara. This is the thirteenth of his books that I have read. Shaara is a master of the historical novel. The extent of his research borders on the degree of research of primary resources that a historian would conduct. His work is technically a novel because Shaara uses his creative writing skills to create thoughts, dialogues, and specific encounters. However, those creations are based on his understandings of the historical characters from his research. This book Admittedly, I am a fan of Jeff Shaara. This is the thirteenth of his books that I have read. Shaara is a master of the historical novel. The extent of his research borders on the degree of research of primary resources that a historian would conduct. His work is technically a novel because Shaara uses his creative writing skills to create thoughts, dialogues, and specific encounters. However, those creations are based on his understandings of the historical characters from his research. This book is a solid work, but somewhat less gripping than some of his other work, such as Gods and Generals and The Glorious Cause. This is probably because the historical event covered, that being the battle at Chatanooga, are simply less compelling from a readers perspective. However, that does not diminish the effort and writing of Shaara’s that shed light on an import battle in the Western Campaign of the Civil War. In particular, I enjoyed the profiles of the leaders from both sides. The reader learns the character of these men, warts and all, which provides numerous leadership lessons that can be used today in almost any setting. The studies of the “every man” soldiers are also compelling, as they demonstrate the cost to the average person of the policies and decisions of leaders. I recommend this book. It is a relaxing way to learn about important events in American history.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jud Barry

    A fictional rendering of the battles of Chattanooga: the 1863 post-Chickamauga siege of the Union army followed by their breakout (Lookout Mtn. and Missionary Ridge). The book employs multiple POV narratives to relate the history. All but one of these belong to top brass -- Grant, Sherman, Bragg, Cleburne, etc. -- so the perspective is strategic and grand-tactical, and the patter suggests reverse-engineered memoirs. Braxton Bragg's profound mistrust -- indeed paranoia -- for his immediate subord A fictional rendering of the battles of Chattanooga: the 1863 post-Chickamauga siege of the Union army followed by their breakout (Lookout Mtn. and Missionary Ridge). The book employs multiple POV narratives to relate the history. All but one of these belong to top brass -- Grant, Sherman, Bragg, Cleburne, etc. -- so the perspective is strategic and grand-tactical, and the patter suggests reverse-engineered memoirs. Braxton Bragg's profound mistrust -- indeed paranoia -- for his immediate subordinates takes center stage as the determining factor in the outcome; his battlefield failure is contrasted with the success his subordinate Patrick Cleburne had in defending the ridge. The exception to the top-level accounts is a Union regular who personifies the "leader" of the push that actually won the battle: the spontaneous, unordered ascent of Missionary Ridge by the troops of the Union center. Ordered to stop at the base of the ridge, the soldiers were under such intolerable fire that further advance seemed safer than staying put; many factors (terrain, sloppy defensive arrangements, and tenuous Confederate morale) contributed to their getting up and over. But the successful assault at this part of the ridge was a lucky freak unimagined by the Union generals. Such a "soldier's battle" might've inspired Tolstoy if he'd been from Illinois.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gary Letham

    On the retreat fro the Vicksburg campaign General Braxton Bragg finds himself besieged by Union General William Rosencrans in Chatanooga. Rosencrans tricks Bragg into abandoning Chatanooga and in the Confederate retreat both armies meet at Chickamagua Creek. In the ensuing battle Bragg thoroughly routs the Union army who retreat to a defensive position in Chatanooga. This is where the books begins, as Bragg is being urged to pursue the Union army. Unfortunately Bragg distrusts his generals and d On the retreat fro the Vicksburg campaign General Braxton Bragg finds himself besieged by Union General William Rosencrans in Chatanooga. Rosencrans tricks Bragg into abandoning Chatanooga and in the Confederate retreat both armies meet at Chickamagua Creek. In the ensuing battle Bragg thoroughly routs the Union army who retreat to a defensive position in Chatanooga. This is where the books begins, as Bragg is being urged to pursue the Union army. Unfortunately Bragg distrusts his generals and decides to stay on the high ground surrounding Chatanooga besieging the town into surrender. Rosencrans is bewildered by Bragg's decision but is so shell shocked by the slaughter of Chickamagua his ensuing inertia allows the Confederates to lock the town down. The story that follows is that of the slow disintegration of Braggs command, his own paranoia and psychosis tearing and relationships apart with his subordinate commanders to a point where CSA President and personal friend and ally of Bragg has to visit to save Braggs command from the potential mutiny of his own officers. Likewise in Chatanooga, Rosencrans lack of plan or movement leads to his own dismissal and replacement by Ulysses Grant, a far more pugnacious and proactive commander, victor of Vicksburg to turn the mess around. What follows shows how a single mans attitude and outlook on both sides can turn the tide completely

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