Saturday, January 09, 2010

Book review - No Less Than Victory.

For Christmas my in-laws gave me No Less Than Victory, a novel about World War II. This is the latest book in Jeff Shaara's series and follows The Steel Wave, finishing the war in Europe. The book keeps some characters from the previous volume, drops some, and adds new ones. As is expected by now, Mr. Shaara's writing is intense, gripping, and historically accurate.

The book starts off with a bombing raid on Berlin from the perspective of one of the airmen involved. It then moves into a discussion among the Allied high command of the next step to take now that the German army has been pushed out of France and most of Belgium. Of course the Germans have other ideas and they launch the offensive that came to be known as the Battle of The Bulge. The book follows the offensive's course and the downward spiral of Germany's fortunes as the Third Reich stumbles towards its doom.

Mr. Shaara does an excellent job recreating the war from the American side. The British and Germans have smaller but equally well-done voices. The Russians are a force beyond the horizon, a rumor to be pondered and shuddered at. This technique adds to the reality of the American soldier's view. Once again the characters are convincingly drawn in a way that clearly shows their strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and fears.

There is a warning though. As the Allied forces advanced into Germany they uncovered the true consequences of Adolf Hitler's mad dream. The descriptions of German war atrocities are chilling. The description of the liberation of a concentration camp shook me to my core.

You must read this book as well as the rest of the Shaara series. Mr. Shaara has a gift and he uses it. This is not a textbook, it is history coming alive. If you think history is boring you owe it to yourself to read this book and as many others of the series as you can track down. It won't be boring when you're done. No Less Than Victory easily scores an unreserved two thumbs up.

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