The Smoke at Dawn

A Novel of the Civil War

By Jeff Shaara
(Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345527417, 495pp.)

Publication Date: June 3, 2014

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Description
"NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER
Jeff Shaara returns to the Civil War terrain he knows so well, with the latest novel in the series that started with "A Blaze of Glory" and "A Chain of Thunder." In "The Smoke at Dawn," the last great push of the Army of the Cumberland sets the stage for a decisive confrontation at Chattanooga that could determine the outcome of the war.
Summer, 1863. The Federal triumph at Vicksburg has secured complete control of the Mississippi River from the Confederacy, cementing the reputation of Ulysses S. Grant. Farther east, the Federal army under the command of William Rosecrans captures the crucial rail hub at Chattanooga. But Rosecrans is careless, and while pursuing the Confederates, the Federal forces are routed in north Georgia at Chickamauga Creek. Retreating in a panic back to Chattanooga, Rosecrans is pursued by the Confederate forces under General Braxton Bragg. Penned up, with their supply lines severed, the Federal army seems doomed to the same kind of defeat that plagued the Confederates at Vicksburg. But a disgusted Abraham Lincoln has seen enough of General Rosecrans. Ulysses Grant is elevated to command of the entire theater of the war, and immediately replaces Rosecrans with General George Thomas. Grant gathers an enormous force, including armies commanded by Joseph Hooker and Grant's friend, William T. Sherman. Grant's mission is clear: Break the Confederate siege and destroy Bragg's army. Meanwhile, Bragg wages war as much with his own subordinates as he does with the Federals, creating dissension and disharmony in the Southern ranks, erasing the Confederate army's superiority at exactly the wrong time.
Blending evocative historical detail with searing depictions of battle, Jeff Shaara immerses readers in the world of commanders and common soldiers, civilians and statesmen. From the Union side come the voices of Generals Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and George Thomas--the vaunted "Rock of Chickamauga"--as well as the young private Fritz "Dutchie" Bauer. From the Rebel ranks come Generals Bragg, Patrick Cleburne, and James Longstreet, as well as the legendary cavalry commander, Nathan Bedford Forrest. A tale of history played out on a human scale in the grand Shaara tradition, "The Smoke at Dawn" vividly recreates the climactic months of the war in the West, when the fate of a divided nation truly hangs in the balance.
Praise for "The Smoke at Dawn"
" "
"Civil War history fiends will be riveted.""--Parade "
"A beautifully written novel . . . Shaara once again elevates history from mere rote fact to explosive and engaging drama.""--Bookreporter"
" "
"Shaara's mastery of military tactics, his intimate grasp of history, and his ability to interweave several supporting narratives into a cohesive and digestible whole . . . will appeal to a broad range of historical- and military-fiction fans."--"Booklist"
"Top-notch . . . As with the best historical war novels, knowing the ultimate outcome of the bitter fighting is not a bar to engagement."--"Publishers Weekly.



About the Author
The story of Gods and Generals begins with Michael Shaara, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic The Killer Angels. A native of New Jersey, Michael Shaara grew to be an adventurous young man: over the years, he found work as a sailor, a paratrooper, a policeman, and an English professor at Florida State University. In 1952, his son Jeff was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Michael's interest in Gettysburg was prompted by some letters written by his great-grandfather, who had been wounded at the great battle while serving with the 4th Georgia Infantry. In 1966, he took his family on a vacation to the battlefield and found himself moved.
In 1970, Michael Shaara returned to Gettysburg with his son Jeff. The pair crisscrossed the historic site, gathering detailed information for the father's novel-in-progress. In 1974, the novel was published with the title The Killer Angels. This gripping fictional account of the three bloody days at Gettysburg won Michael Shaara a Pulitzer Prize and a vast, appreciative audience. To date it has sold two million copies.
When Michael Shaara died in 1988, his son Jeff began to manage his literary estate. It was a legacy he knew well, having helped his father create it. When director Ron Maxwell filmed the movie Gettysburg, based on The Killer Angels, he asked Jeff to serve as a consultant. Maxwell encouraged Shaara to continue the story his father began; inspired, Jeff planned an ambitious trilogy, with The Killer Angels as the centerpiece, following the war from its origins to its end.
With Gods and Generals, Jeff Shaara gives fans of The Killer Angels everything they could have asked--an epic, brilliantly written saga that bringsthe nation's greatest conflict to life.
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