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The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara

The Last Full Measure (1998)

by Jeff Shaara

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The final book in the Shaara civil war trilogy changes the tone and approach slightly from the previous novels, but is still a compelling and worthwhile read.

The previous 2 books, (Gods and Generals and Gettysburg) alternate between many different stories from several perspectives. This book focuses primarily on General Grant and General Lee, with some General Chamberlain thrown in for flavor.

As with the other books, this novel does a great job of getting to the humanity of the characters it follows. Unlike the other books, this one also jumps into some no-name (fictional?) soldiers for dramatic perspectives on critical events.

As with the rest of the trilogy, this book doesn't spend a lot of time on logistics or nuts and bolts matters of battles. While having a background with the battles covered isn't necessary to enjoy the book, I think that knowledge greatly enhances the experience.

The trilogy as a whole isn't just for Civil War or history buffs; I think the human aspects of the story could appeal to anyone who simply likes good human drama. That being said, I think this is a great addition to a list of must read books for students of the Civil War, and even the most well-versed among us will likely learn something about the conflicts.

My one real criticism is that the book seems to dedicate more pages to some smaller, less consequential battles than it does to other more consequential ones.

And I was amazed at how much action occurred during the final sieges. Several attacks and counterattacks over a several month period...the final struggle was more intense than I imagined.

Overall, I highly recommend this book, and this trilogy, to civil war aficionados and fans of human drama who are interested in a unique and consequential setting for their stories. ( )
  McCarthys | Jan 30, 2019 |
Very interesting to read after a visit to Petersburg VA and a trip at its famous "Crater" battlefield.

At the eve of the 100th Anniversary of WWI what strikes the reader is how the later part of the North against South conflict, from 1863 until the end at Appomattox Court House, foreshadows the first great industrial conflict of 1914-1918. The race to flank Lee's army of Northern Virginia by Ulysses S. Grant by marching South West has the two belligerent digging trenches more than 40 miles long, complete with forts and batteries, in response to Southern efforts to defend Petersburg and its vital railway line, the lifeline to Richmond.

Jeff Shaara is excellent at making the reader feel how close these armies were, at times not more than 10 feet apart.
The use of maps makes this book very clear to follow.

It does remind the famous WWI Race to the Sea Sept.-Nov. 1914, when after being stopped at the Marne river, the German Army tried to outflank the Franco-British army and, contrary to Grant, were unsucessful.
Shaara excels at picking vignettes of these combats, describing the chance encounter of a commander with one or a couple of combatants from both sides, while making clear the grand strategy and the emotions of his historical characters.

His rendition of the final surrender is truly moving. Well done! ( )
  Artymedon | Nov 3, 2018 |
@ Civil War
Their belief in God — on both sides
Brilliance of Robert E. Lee "Bobby Lee"
Randall — Cavalry — Horseman
lesser forces — more skill — with a great leader
Rebel Yell — dreaded sound on the other side
Legacy of West Point
Bowdoin — Chamberlain — led charge w/ bayonet w/ bullets gone — always concentrated on big pix — avoid agony or sym dead —
Stonewall Jackson — charged over the wall — not @ slavery but right to make our decisions on their soil —
so soon after it ended Grant left to go home Lincoln in Wash to go to play — he was shot — suddenly Grant was President —
Talk @ Counter Factuals!
Events change the world without warning — God's warning?

Gettysburg is past and the war advances to its third brutal year. On the Union side, the gulf between the politicians in Washington and the generals in the field yawns ever wider. Never has the cumbersome Union Army so desperately needed a decisive, hard-nosed leader. It is at this critical moment that Lincoln places Ulysses S. Grant in command--and turns the tide of war.

For Robert E. Lee, Gettysburg was an unspeakable disaster--compounded by the shattering loss of the fiery Stonewall Jackson two months before. Lee knows better than anyone that the South cannot survive a war of attrition. But with the total devotion of his generals--Longstreet, Hill, Stuart--and his unswerving faith in God, Lee is determined to fight to the bitter end.

Here too is Joshua Chamberlain, the college professor who emerged as the Union hero of Gettysburg--and who will rise to become one of the greatest figures of the Civil War.
  christinejoseph | May 8, 2018 |
A very enjoyable book and satisfying finish to the Civil War trilogy by Jeff Shaara. I had read the first two books of the triology many years ago, but for whatever reason had not got around to finishing it. I am very glad I did.

I have been on a bit of a Civil War kick in the last month, and this book provided a lighter read about the characters and events that have so fascinated me. Shaara's ability to get into the heads of the historical figures is outstanding, and his ability to describe battle scenes (and provide maps to help those of us who have trouble visualizing things) is excellent. I would recommend this book, and the whole series, to anyone with any interest in the Civil War or anyone who enjoys direct historical fiction. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
I was fully drawn into the lives of these incredible people and to the evnts in which they participated. ( )
  ibkennedy | Jul 30, 2014 |
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To my friend Ron Maxwell, who has taught me to never lose sight of the dream
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By July 1863 the Civil War has been fought over the farmlands and seacoasts of the South for better than two years, and is already one of the bloodiest wars in human history.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345434811, Mass Market Paperback)

As Stephen Lang reads the final installment of Michael and Jeff Shaara's American Civil War trilogy, he conveys the horror and exhaustion that overwhelmed the battered soldiers by allowing a hauntingly weary quality to color his voice. The Last Full Measure picks up where the previous novels (The Killer Angels and Gods and Generals) left off, after the devastating Battle of Gettysburg, as the Confederate Army begins a long and fiercely contested retreat. The author writes, "As the war enters its third year the bloody reports continue to fill the newspapers and the bodies of young men continue to fill the cemeteries. To the eager patriots, the idealists and adventurers who had joined the fight in the beginning, there is a new reality, where honor and glory are becoming hollow words. The great causes are slowly pushed aside and men now fight with the grim determination to take this fight to its end." Lang puts his theatrical experience (Hamlet, Death of a Salesman, A Few Good Men) to good use here, delivering the narrative with sincerity. Although his effort is occasionally distracting, he creates a multitude of voices for the many historical characters, adding an element of emotional authenticity to this exceedingly powerful story. Once again Shaara uses an evocative blend of historical fact and well-researched fiction to create a powerful portrait of the men, great and small, whose actions determined the outcome of the war. (Running time: six hours, four cassettes) --George Laney

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:47 -0400)

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A dramatization of the confrontations between Robert E. Lee, Lawrence Chamberlain, and Ulysses S. Grant during the last two years of the Civil War.

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