To the last man : a novel of the First World War / Jeff Shaara.
Booklist Reviews 2004 September #2
Viewed from a distance, the campaigns on the Western Front from 1914-18 appear as a pitiless, mechanistic meat grinder, chewing up thousands of lives on a daily basis in a futile conflict without moral justification. So it is important to be reminded that the officers who launched these campaigns and the ordinary soldiers who fought in them were not mere automatons. Shaara, who has previously written celebrated historical novels about the Civil War and the Revolutionary War, again displays his gift for portraying the intensely human side of warriors. He focuses on the experiences of four historical figures, including the American General John "Black Jack" Pershing and the German air ace von Richtofen (the famed Red Baron). Although told primarily from an American perspective, the narrative gives appropriate attention to the attitudes and aspirations of both ordinary and prominent German military figures. When Shaara's characters are away from the front or not directly engaged in action, they indulge in soldier chatter, and the plot tends to drag. But Shaara is at his best in describing scenes of battle. He presents the horror of trench warfare in gory but necessary detail. When the action moves to aerial combat, Shaara offers images of strangely antiseptic beauty, as if airmen are somehow removed from the squalor beneath. This is first-rate storytelling that aptly describes aspects of a conflict that continues to shape our world today. ((Reviewed September 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2004 July #1
World War I as experienced by an average British soldier. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
LJ Reviews 2004 October #1
This epic story of America's involvement in World War I differs slightly from Shaara's previous works, which covered the American Revolution, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, as it involves mostly unknown people. How Marine Pvt. Roscoe Temple dealt with the grinding horror of trench warfare and pilot Raoul Lufbury's involvement in the evolution of air war are indeed gripping sagas. But historical figures pop up as well. Shaara ably chronicles the difficulties of Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, who had to fight both the Germans and unbending bureaucracies in Washington, DC, as well as his "Allies," who wanted to dismember the U.S. Army and parcel it out as replacements for their own use. Nor are the Germans ignored; Manfred von Richtofen, the Red Baron, is sympathetically portrayed. World War I was murder on an awesome scale, and its impact lives on today. Sadly, it is either minimally understood or totally forgotten-something this book may help correct. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/04.]-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2004 October #2
Moving on from the American Revolution and the Civil War, Shaara (The Glorious Cause, etc.) delivers an epic account of the American experience in WWI. As usual, he narrates from the perspective of actual historical figures, moving from the complexity of high-level politics and diplomacy to the romance of the air fight and the horrors of trench warfare. Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing commands all American forces in France in 1917-1918 and must prepare his army for a new kind of war while resisting French and British efforts to absorb his troops into their depleted, worn-out units. Two aviators, American Raoul Lufbery and German Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron) fly primitive aircraft in an air war that introduces new ways to die. And Pvt. Roscoe Temple, U.S. Marine Corps, fights with rifle and bayonet in the mud and blood of Belleau Wood and the Argonne Forest. These men and a supporting cast of other real-life characters provide a gruesomely graphic portrayal of the brutality and folly of total war. Shaara's storytelling is occasionally mechanical-he has yet to rise to the Pulitzer Prize-winning level of his father, Michael Shaara (The Killer Angels, etc.)-but his descriptions of individual combat in the air and the mass slaughter on the ground are stark, vivid and gripping. He also offers compelling portraits of the politicians and generals whose strategies and decisions killed millions and left Europe a discontented wasteland. (Nov.) Forecast: Numbers-wise, this should match Shaara's previous efforts, helped along by a 12-city author tour and vigorous promotion. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.