Civil War Book Watch: Jeff Shaara’s “A Blaze of Glory” Out on May 29

For those of you that could not get enough of the Shaara Civil War trilogy, started by father Michael and finished by son Jeff, a set of three books that forever changed the genre of historical fiction, the first installment of Jeff Shaara’s next trilogy on the war that divided a nation will be available on May 29. Titled, A Blaze of Glory, this new trilogy, one book being released in each of the next three years, part of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, will be set in the Western Theater of the war, a region often shunned by fictional literature and film alike. This will be a stirring new look at the players who won and lost, and fought and died in the west, both major and minor. The official synopsis reads as follows:

In the first novel of a spellbinding new trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara returns to the Civil War terrain he knows best. A Blaze of Glory takes us to the action-packed Western Theater for a vivid re-creation of one of the war’s bloodiest and most iconic engagements—the Battle of Shiloh.

It’s the spring of 1862. The Confederate Army in the West teeters on the brink of collapse following the catastrophic loss of Fort Donelson. Commanding general Albert Sidney Johnston is forced to pull up stakes, abandon the critical city of Nashville, and rally his troops in defense of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Hot on Johnston’s trail are two of the Union’s best generals: the relentless Ulysses Grant, fresh off his career-making victory at Fort Donelson, and Don Carlos Buell. If their combined forces can crush Johnston’s army and capture the railroad, the war in the West likely will be over. There’s just one problem: Johnston knows of the Union plans, and is poised to launch an audacious surprise attack on Grant’s encampment—a small settlement in southwestern Tennessee anchored by a humble church named Shiloh.

With stunning you-are-there immediacy, Shaara takes us inside the maelstrom of Shiloh as no novelist has before. Drawing on meticulous research, he dramatizes the key actions and decisions of the commanders on both sides: Johnston, Grant, Sherman, Beauregard, and the illustrious Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest. Here too are the thoughts and voices of the junior officers, conscripts, and enlisted men who gave their all for the cause, among them Confederate cavalry lieutenant James Seeley and Private Fritz “Dutchie” Bauer of the 16th Wisconsin Regiment—brave participants in a pitched back-and-forth battle whose casualty count would far surpass anything the American public had yet seen in this war. By the end of the first day of fighting, as Grant’s bedraggled forces regroup for could be their last stand, two major events—both totally unexpected—will turn the tide of the battle and perhaps the war itself.

When I had a chance to interview Jeff last year, he had this to say about the upcoming trilogy, while he was still working on it:

I am working, right now, on the research, for a new trilogy which will be Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Sherman’s March. Each one will be out in the spring, starting in 2012, ’13, and ’14, with each one of those year’s being the 150th anniversary of those events. It’s a challenge because doing a book a year is tough. I have so much research material already that I think gives me a leg up and I’m very excited about this, as is my publisher and people I’ve talked to around the country. This is funny, and I have to laugh, I’ve gotten a lot of letters from people in Tennessee and Mississippi saying, “You know, we’re kind of tired of hearing about just Robert E. Lee and Virginia.” (laughs) There’s a whole lot more story that no one seems to want to find out about. I’ll respond to that and do the best I can.

This should be very exciting news for all the Civil War buffs out there. Personally, I have just begun reading Gods and Generals the other day. You may be thinking that it is strange to have not read it, after devoting so much time to the film, but it just eluded me all those years, and I finally grabbed it off my desk and told myself, “It’s about time I read this book.” When I am done, I will re-read The Killer Angels, and then cap it off with The Last Full Measure, hopefully by the summer. However, this new trilogy excites me, if only because I devote a major part of my historical study to the Civil War, and even taught a 12-week course on it to middle school-aged students in the fall, the Western Theater is something that I still do not know much about, and was a part of the war I had to breeze through when teaching, because unfortunately, it became the victim of time constraints. This is something completely new and fresh, never before tackled in the way that Jeff Shaara can, where this characters will come alive, as they have for me in the early chapters of Gods and Generals.

A Blaze of Glory is available for pre-order on Amazon.

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2 thoughts on “Civil War Book Watch: Jeff Shaara’s “A Blaze of Glory” Out on May 29

  1. Interesting stuff… I met Jeff Shaara several year back at a Gettysburg Reenactment. I have enjoyed his writing. Now he is working on a Shiloh story. Should be a good story. I have recently started a blog covering a local reenactment group that just returned from the Shiloh Reenactment. The group has two men in an Iowa regiment whose ancestors actually fought against each other. Check out the photos and stories at http://www.openeyesmedia.wordpress.com.

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