I have read some of Jeff Shaara's Revolutionary War novels, which were quite good, so I was looking forward to reading this novel that takes place during the Civil War at the Battle of Shiloh. After abandoning the city of Nashville, General Johnston and the Rebel troops are hunkered down in Tennessee. Meanwhile General Grant and Buell are planning on combining their forces and crushing Johnston. When Johnston gets wind of this, he sneak attacks Grant while he is still waiting for Buell. This starts the Battle of Shiloh, perhaps the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.
There was a lot to like about this novel. Shaara does a great job with historical research, and I certainly appreciate that. The battle itself was dramatic and intriguing from a historical perspective. But what I think that I most liked about this novel was the humanization of some of these historical figures. It's hard to capture that just by reading a history book. I knew about the basic things that happened in the Civil War and who were the main players, but Shaara really brought these people to life with his writing. General Sherman was battling a confidence crisis with a loss at the Battle of Bull Run. General Grant was the brilliant mind who had to watch his steps with his superiors or risk being removed again from the field. Johnston was the strong-willed guiding force, who had he lived, could have guided the South to victory. Beauregard was the arrogant general whose hubris may have cost them the battle. On the down side, I thought the novel was overly long, and there was a decent bit of fluff that could have been cut out of this. In all, this was both informative and entertaining--a book that I recommend.
Carl Alves - author of Two For Eternity