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To the Last Man

by Jeff Shaara

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9951821,406 (3.9)22
Fiction. Literature. Thriller. Historical Fiction. HTML:Jeff Shaara has enthralled readers with his New York Times bestselling novels set during the Civil War and the American Revolution. Now the acclaimed author turns to World War I, bringing to life the sweeping, emotional story of the war that devastated a generation and established America as a world power.
Spring 1916: the horror of a stalemate on Europe’s western front. France and Great Britain are on one side of the barbed wire, a fierce German army is on the other. Shaara opens the window onto the otherworldly tableau of trench warfare as seen through the eyes of a typical British soldier who experiences the bizarre and the horrible–a “Tommy” whose innocent youth is cast into the hell of a terrifying war.
In the skies, meanwhile, technology has provided a devastating new tool, the aeroplane, and with it a different kind of hero emerges–the flying ace. Soaring high above the chaos on the ground, these solitary knights duel in the splendor and terror of the skies, their courage and steel tested with every flight.
As the conflict stretches into its third year, a neutral America is goaded into war, its reluctant president, Woodrow Wilson, finally accepting the repeated challenges to his stance of nonalignment. Yet the Americans are woefully unprepared and ill equipped to enter a war that has become worldwide in scope. The responsibility is placed on the shoulders of General John “Blackjack” Pershing, and by mid-1917 the first wave of the American Expeditionary Force arrives in Europe. Encouraged by the bold spirit and strength of the untested Americans, the world waits to see if the tide of war can finally be turned.
From Blackjack Pershing to the Marine in the trenches, from the Red Baron to the American pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille, To the Last Man is written with the moving vividness and accuracy that characterizes all of Shaara’s work. This spellbinding new novel carries readers–the way only Shaara can–to the heart of one of the greatest conflicts in human history, and puts them face-to-face with the characters who made a lasting impact on the world.
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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This is my favorite of all of Jeff Shaara's historical novels. There is something about the character's of the American flyers, the members of the Lafayette Escadrille, and even the Red Baron, that were so engaging, much more so than the characters in his other books. These characters kept me reading into all hours of the night, and I was sorry to see the book end. ( )
  belleek | Nov 19, 2023 |
58 To the Last Man A Novel of the First World War, by Jeff Shaara (read 18 Apr 2023) This was published in 2004 and most of characters are historical and I think the history is fairly accurate. The history is informative and good reading. Some of the battle accounts are too long. But the final pages are really excellent, so I enjoyed the book usually. ( )
  Schmerguls | Apr 18, 2023 |
This Author is well known for writing historical novels, and they have continued in that vein when writing this book which centres on the often forgotten war that was supposed to be ‘the war to end all wars’.

Essentially this novel is two books in one, which can then be divided into three parts. The first 1/3 of the book focuses almost exclusively on the air war taking place at that time, with the main protagonist for this section being the notorious Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen and the French born American ace, Raoul Lufberry. Both these characters are brought vividly to life allowing the reader to build on what knowledge they may already have of these larger than life fighter aces. Through the Authors words we are given a look at what may have been the driving forces behind them being as successful as they were, and also at the same time brought to the realisation that, in the end they were just human like everyone else involved in this conflict.

The middle 1/3 of the book, the reader is introduced to Gen. Pershing and a young marine private named Roscoe Templer, which begins the second book where the first leaves off with the deaths of Richthofen and Lufberry. Through the eyes of the Private, the reader sees the horrors of trench warfare from a ‘boots on the ground’ perspective; this resulted in me wondering why this truly hadn’t been a catalyst to end war.

The final 1/3 of the book focuses exclusively on the exploits and perils of the ground war. Here the Author really comes into his own, showing his outstanding research skills and ability to translate history into a form many readers would find more palatable than actually doing the research themselves. Through the Authors words the reader is transported to the water filled hovels that the ground troops called home; they can smell the death and decay that permeates the air and everything around these soldiers. The reader is able to feel the sheer terror that they must have experienced when waiting for the whistle to blow that would signal them going over the top to an almost certain death. But this descriptive skill is not just limited to those on the ground, the Author extends this to the flying aces in their flimsy fabric coated aeroplanes and the knowledge they also carried with them on a daily basis that this time might just be their last in the air.

Throughout this book, whether you are reading about the regular Soldiers and Pilots, or the Officers back in the rear you will be affected by this war in a way that may come a little way to the feelings of those who experienced it both at home and in France.
Whether you are a novice or a World War I aficionado, I would highly recommend this book, and if you have never read anything by this Author this is a great place to start.


Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.com/2014/02/25/review-to-the-last-man-a-novel-of-the-firs...





This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
( )
  Melline | Aug 13, 2022 |
Relative lengthy historical fiction about the 1st World War, but well worth the time it takes to finish. Shaara covers the war from various perspectives, from German flyers, including the famous "Red Baron", American volunteers flying for the French, the foot soldier, to the military and political leaders on both sides. Well researched, and more fact than fiction, making it an informative and insightful from American, French, English and German points of view. ( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
To the Last Man, by Jeff Shaara is the semi-fictional account of several men in World War I. The book covers two main three main areas of the war. The Lafayette Espadrille and The Red Baron, General Pershing, and a Marine; Private Rosco Temple.

The first section of the book lays the ground work and the second section brings the air war into play. The air war is covered from the point of view of French born America Raoul Lufberry telling the story of the Lafayette Espadrille and Baron von Richtofen telling the German side in alternating Chapters. The writing compelling, telling both personal thoughts and giving an history of events and information on the planes. It is easy to forget you are reading a novel and not reading a memoir.

In the middle of the second section General Pershing is introduced and becomes part of the alternating chapters. His story continues into the third section which primarily covers Private Roscoe Temple. As much as I am a sucker for Biplane stories in World War I, this Marine is much more taken in by Shaara's story of Pvt. Temple. First, Shaara does what few people outside of the Marine Corps do, and that is capitalize the “M” in Marine. Secondly, every story I heard from bootcamp was in the book “Retreat, hell we just got here.” to the Marines at Belleau Wood and the renaming of the woods in their honor. Shaara does a wonderful job of capturing the Marine spirit in the book. Everything from Marines complaining they are issued army uniforms without a Marine insignia bravery in battle. Pvt. Temple is a filler in a army squad that is mostly gunned down. The army sergeant wants the squad to hold their position because there are too many Germans to fight. Pvt Temple speaks up that if there are to many Germans we need to fix that. The sergeant is taken back and assumes Temple is an officer. Temple replies “ I'm not an officer, just a Marine.”

Overall a great read. ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
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Fiction. Literature. Thriller. Historical Fiction. HTML:Jeff Shaara has enthralled readers with his New York Times bestselling novels set during the Civil War and the American Revolution. Now the acclaimed author turns to World War I, bringing to life the sweeping, emotional story of the war that devastated a generation and established America as a world power.
Spring 1916: the horror of a stalemate on Europe’s western front. France and Great Britain are on one side of the barbed wire, a fierce German army is on the other. Shaara opens the window onto the otherworldly tableau of trench warfare as seen through the eyes of a typical British soldier who experiences the bizarre and the horrible–a “Tommy” whose innocent youth is cast into the hell of a terrifying war.
In the skies, meanwhile, technology has provided a devastating new tool, the aeroplane, and with it a different kind of hero emerges–the flying ace. Soaring high above the chaos on the ground, these solitary knights duel in the splendor and terror of the skies, their courage and steel tested with every flight.
As the conflict stretches into its third year, a neutral America is goaded into war, its reluctant president, Woodrow Wilson, finally accepting the repeated challenges to his stance of nonalignment. Yet the Americans are woefully unprepared and ill equipped to enter a war that has become worldwide in scope. The responsibility is placed on the shoulders of General John “Blackjack” Pershing, and by mid-1917 the first wave of the American Expeditionary Force arrives in Europe. Encouraged by the bold spirit and strength of the untested Americans, the world waits to see if the tide of war can finally be turned.
From Blackjack Pershing to the Marine in the trenches, from the Red Baron to the American pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille, To the Last Man is written with the moving vividness and accuracy that characterizes all of Shaara’s work. This spellbinding new novel carries readers–the way only Shaara can–to the heart of one of the greatest conflicts in human history, and puts them face-to-face with the characters who made a lasting impact on the world.

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