A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh

by Jeff Shaara

Hardcover, 2012

Call number




Ballantine Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, 464 pages


A fictional account of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, told from the perspectives of participants on both sides, recreates the April 1862 surprise attack by Confederate forces on the Union Army at Shiloh.

User reviews

LibraryThing member creighley
Jeff Shaara recounts the horrific Battle of Shiloh where thousands of Union and Confederate troops lost their lives. Mistakes were made on both sides and both sides still claim a victory. Engrossing tale of the early throes of battle during the Civil War.
LibraryThing member AndyKeller
I learned quite a bit about the battle of Shiloh which I had never really studied. I now look forward to Jeff Shaara's next installment.
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
I so enjoyed the second volume in this trilogy that I decided to read this first volume--the third volume has not yet been published, but when it is I expect I'll want read it. This volume covers the battle of Shiloh, and one certainly feels one is in the battle as the experiences fo the characters
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are related. And Shaara leaves no doubt of his view on controversial aspects of the battle. For instance,his account makes it seem certain that Beauregard's failure to attack further on the first day when yet an hour of daylight remained was a fatal error for the Confederates. This is a lively and fast-moving account and plays no tricks with history--so it is historical fiction as it should be written.
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LibraryThing member oldman
Anothe good book from Jeff Shaara. This one is a dissection of the events and personalities surrounding the battle of Shiloh Church. The Union won this battle, but much could have been done to alter the outcome. Shaara does a good job of bringing these possibilities to the fore. Several different
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persons are followed theough the whole of the battle and what they did and the impact they had. Four and one-half stars
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LibraryThing member SamSattler
A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh begins the new Jeff Shaara trilogy focusing on events of the Civil War’s Western Theater. As fans of Shaara’s The Last Full Measure and his father’s The Killer Angels will attest, his return to the Civil War era is a welcome one. I was
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particularly pleased to see that the new series begins with the Battle of Shiloh because of the number of hours I have spent walking that particular battlefield site over the years. A Blaze of Glory leaves me with a better understanding of what happened during those two critical days in 1862 and, just as importantly, what might have happened if either army had been better prepared for the fight. (My interest probably stems from the fact that my great-great grandfather was a member of the 18th Louisiana Infantry Brigade that suffered a forty percent casualty rate on the battle’s first day – him not among them.)

Shaara, as in his past historical novels, uses a range of characters (some real, some fictional) to tell his story. This allows the author to offer insights into the personalities, motivations, jealousies, fears, doubts, and dreams that were carried to the field by all those soldiers on April 6-7, 1862. All told, more than 100,000 men fought on this relatively small patch of ground and almost 24,000 of them are counted as casualties of Shiloh (although less than 4,000 actual deaths are included in the total). The battle’s rotating points-of-view include those of Generals Grant, Sherman, Johnston, and Beauregard, along with those of a few lower-ranking officers and enlisted men.

Caught by surprise at dawn on the first day of the battle, Union troops, as dusk approaches, have been driven as far as they can go without drowning themselves in the rain-swollen Tennessee River. Unfortunately for the Confederacy, General Albert Sidney Johnston is dead (having bled to death from a leg wound he barely seemed to notice at the time) and has been replaced by his second-in-command, the more cautious General P.T.G. Beauregard. The battle will turn on Beauregard’s decision to rest and reorganize his men for what he sees as a certain Union surrender requiring only a last surge on his part the next morning. But the next morning, the reinforced Union army attacks first and the Confederates are the ones forced to concede the field to a victorious army.

One must remember, of course, that A Blaze of Glory is historical fiction and that Shaara uses the genre to speculate his way to inside the heads of some of American history’s key players. His books, however, are not some alternate history version of America’s past. Shaara does not change historical facts. Rather, he uses his research and insight into the human condition to explain why things happened as they did. Naturally, his speculation and interpretation of events can be disputed, but without a doubt, he has humanized the Civil War in a way that even the best history books are unable to match. Shaara’s painless history lessons are so exciting that many of his readers will, I am certain, be compelled to pick up “real” history books for the first times in their lives.

Rated at: 5.0
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LibraryThing member mikedraper
The battle of Shiloh told from officers and enlisted men on both the north and south.

The southern army is led by Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston with Gen. P.T.G. Beauregard as the second in command. Johnston is a true leader and catches the northern forces unprepared so routs them on the first day of
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the battle. The main part of the southern surge is against the forces under Gen. William Sherman. He doesn't believe that the enemy is in force and about to strike so when the Confederates do attack, they swarm all over Sherman's men.

Johnston is a true leader but late on the first day, he falls, mortally wounded. Beauregard assumes command and it seems as though he has lost his nerve so pulls his forces back.

Grant accepts responsibility for the losses on the first day and is surprised when the Confederates don't continue their attack. However on that night, additional regiments of Grant arrive. The next day, a stronger and more prepared northern army strike back against the Confederates, many of whom are low on ammunition after the first day.

We follow the action not only by the officers but hear the story of enlisted men of Wisconsin and of a Cavalry unit of the south.

Very well done and entertaining.
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LibraryThing member santhony
Jeff Shaara has written a number of books, all focusing on wars or specific battles, usually involving the Civil War. The subject of this work is the Battle of Shiloh, one of the early major conflicts in the western theater of the United States Civil War.

Sharra tells the story through the eyes of
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several characters, from commanding generals to front line troops, a device first used so successfully by his father Michael Shaara in Killer Angels, a dramatized look at the Battle of Gettysburg and one of the best books I’ve ever read. Sadly, the father overshadows the son, and though this is a good summary of the events leading up to and through the Battle of Shiloh, it pales in comparison to Killer Angels (possibly, in part, because the Battle of Gettysburg provides a richer cast of characters and events).

Nevertheless, it is a good history lesson for those interested in Civil War history or some of the major characters active in the western theater of the war.
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LibraryThing member DeaconBernie
Continues the story of the Civil War in the historical fiction based on fact series. Shiloh was a horrible battle. It was mis-fought by almost all the generals. It was an expensive lesson for the generals who survived. More to the point, it took boy out of the farm boys who fought it and made them
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into battle hardened veterans.
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LibraryThing member Archivist13
Jeff Shaara has produced a riveting account of The Battle of Shiloh, an important campaign during the Civil War. All of the historical facts are there, with the added bonus of Shaara's imagination filling in the dialogue, which really brought the history to life. This is the first volume of a
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trilogy, and I am eager to read the next two books in the series. Highly recommended for those interested in Civil War History, American History and well written Historical Fiction. #MyLibraryThing
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LibraryThing member Carl_Alves
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
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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
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LibraryThing member gmicksmith
Although this is a novel it is a realistic and meticulously researched book about the critical battle of Shiloh.
LibraryThing member buffalogr
Jeff Shaara recounts the horrific Battle of Shiloh in the American Civil War. Although this is a novel, it appears realistic and meticulously researched. As a novel, the author is able to humanize the historical characters by addition of dialogue. this adds to the reader's enjoyment. The irritant
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for me was that this book had too many in depth descriptions of battle movements, action, hospitals and inner monologues of "is he going to run away or not?" That's just not my thing.
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LibraryThing member 5hrdrive
Congrats to Jeff Shaara. I've read a lot of non-fiction about Shiloh and recently was able to visit the battlefield and cemetery. Thought I knew everything there was to know. But this is historical fiction by a master and really offers some unique insights by letting the reader inside the
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participant's mind. Don't read this and think you've got it all, read the non-fiction stuff as well (preferably first). But this is like icing on the cake.
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