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A Chain of Thunder: A Novel of the Siege of Vicksburg

by Jeff Shaara

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: New Civil War Trilogy (2)

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3922456,978 (3.83)8
Continuing the trilogy that began with A Blaze of Glory, New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara returns to chronicle another decisive chapter in America's long and bloody Civil War. In A Chain of Thunder, the action shifts to the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. There, in the vaunted "Gibraltar of the Confederacy", a siege for the ages will cement the reputation of one Union general and all but seal the fate of the rebel cause.… (more)
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» See also 8 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Well done ( )
  ibkennedy | Mar 26, 2019 |
Shaara continues with his Civil War series with the second novel in the Western Theater. As with other books by the author, every chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, most historical figures, but others not. The cast of characters is varied, from Generals Grant, Sherman, and Pemberton to simple soldiers and civilians. I particularly enjoyed the perspective of the Union Soldier, Fritz Bauer and the Vicksbug civilian, Lucy Spence...but, their contributions would be less effective without the dialogue from the leadership of both sides. The novel could have been improved by providing a perspective of David Porter, the commander of the Union fleet in the Mississippi River; however, the book was already 22 hours long and required long periods of intense listening to get the theme and plot ( )
  buffalogr | Aug 28, 2017 |
A Chain of Thunder (Civil War: 1861-1865, Western Theater #2) by Jeff Shaara is a historical fiction book from this bestselling author. I have read several of Mr. Shaara’s books previously and was delighted to find this one in my local library even though I did not read the first book in the series.

Confederate Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton took his army and retreated to Vicksburg fortifying it and getting ready to defend it.

Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant, after finally crossing the Mississippi River pushing Pemberton’s army into Vicksburg. The Union sustains many casualties during their attempts to enter the city and General Grant reluctantly lays siege to Vicksburg.

A Chain of Thunder (Civil War: 1861-1865, Western Theater #2) by Jeff Shaara takes place in and around Vicksburg, Mississippi during the American Civil War. The first book, I understand, focuses on the Battle of Shiloh, which is referenced in A Chain of Thunder, however I did not feel I missed anything by not reading it first.

As with other books by the author, every chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, most historical figures, but others not. The cast of characters is varied, from Generals Grant, Sherman, and Pemberton to simple soldiers and civilians.

I enjoyed the dialog Mr. Shaara puts in the mouth of his characters, especially the local dialect and local flavors. The characters in the book are well written, both historical and fictionalized come to life, we learn about their struggles, their demons, and their success. The author describes very well what it is like to be under siege, and the ones trying to break the siege, the small communities within communities the form whenever a dark turn takes a whole population, whether citizens or soldiers, into a place they’ll never thought they’ll be.

The research in this book, as with the author’s other books, demands special recognition. While the book is condensed, almost like a history book, it is very readable and interesting. The Battle of Vicksburg is one that I knew very little about, so it was very interesting to learn more about the battle.

For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com ( )
  ZoharLaor | Jul 8, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I think Jeff is running out of steam...or my tastes are changing. Either way, this was just boring. I actually couldn't even finish it. ( )
  Neilsantos | Mar 15, 2015 |
A Chain of Thunder picks up where Shaara's previous book, A Blaze of Glory, left off. In the aftermath of the battle of Shiloh, General Grant turns to finishing the job of securing the whole course of the Mississippi River for the Union, which means capturing the last Confederate stronghold there: the town of Vicksburg.

Leading up to the siege, and of even greater historical interest, Shaara shows us Grant's Mississippi campaign, in which he successfully employs the strategy, thereby demonstrating its merits to an initially skeptical General Sherman, that the two of them will go on to use to win the war for the Union over the next couple of years.

On the Confederate side is General Pemberton, a Northerner fighting for the Southern cause whom Shaara somehow nevertheless manages to make one of his least interesting characters. I was left with the feeling that Shaara didn't quite know what to make of him, because the way he portrays him does not satisfactorily explain his actions (or more to the point, his inaction).

Shaara also continues to portray the experience of the soldier in the ranks, this time again through Union private Bauer (whom he introduced in A Blaze of Glory). Some of Bauer's story here seems a bit redundant from the previous book, but his character arc does develop somewhat.

And finally, a first for Shaara, he introduces a storyline from the perspective of a civilian, Vicksburg resident Lucy Spence. Through Lucy Spence's work as a nurse, Shaara gives us an all-too-vivid picture of the barbaric state of medicine at the time. But her story is apparently mainly intended to show us the hardships civilians were exposed to by the harsh tactics of Grant and Sherman, as Vicksburgers are reduced to eating mule and rat meat. But I had a hard time sympathizing with them, knowing too much about the imperialistic Southern slave culture that led to the war and continued to glorify and support the war until Grant and Sherman quite literally brought the war home to them with such tactics.

Anyway, the blame for the suffering of civilians lies squarely at the feet of Pemberton, who could have ended their suffering at any time by surrendering, which he ought to have done sooner given that he was apparently thoroughly convinced of the hopelessness of his position pretty early on. And although Grant is somewhat infamous for his demand for unconditional surrender, once he received it he actually treated his opponents quite well (especially by the standards of the time). To Shaara's credit, all of this does come through his narrative to some extent.

So in some ways, Shaara's work keeps getting more interesting, and in others, less satisfying or even more frustrating. Still, on the whole this was definitely worth reading, like everything of his I've read.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R3UCQC3KX2XGQZ ( )
  AshRyan | Dec 12, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeff Shaaraprimary authorall editionscalculated
Zucker, Christopher M.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Verily, war is a species of passionate insanity.
--Mary Ann Loughborough
Civilian, Vicksburg, Mississippi
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The ball was a glorious affair, the Confederate officers in their finest gray, adorned with plumed hats and sashes at their waists.
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Continuing the trilogy that began with A Blaze of Glory, New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara returns to chronicle another decisive chapter in America's long and bloody Civil War. In A Chain of Thunder, the action shifts to the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. There, in the vaunted "Gibraltar of the Confederacy", a siege for the ages will cement the reputation of one Union general and all but seal the fate of the rebel cause.

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