To the Last Man
A Novel of the First World War
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Best modern war novel ever written
From the prologue, to the very last words, this is by far Shaara's best.
Longer than the war itself
The mechanism was the same for all Shaara books, the docudrama style so effective in previous titles, of pulling the reader into a more personal interest within the historical context.
That said, this book is longer than the war itself, with dialogue often so wooden that it was a real effort to persevere. In the end the book defeated me, like the Kaiser, through attrition, and I capitulated.
It is a big topic on a grand scale, but sadly for this effort, boring. By the time I was immersed in tar-like conversational flirtations between young Richthofen and his nurse, I was ready to volunteer to go over the top.
Lots of buildup for what I'm sure was a crashing climax, but it was not worth waiting through that many long hours of filler to find out for sure.
This was an incredible and very entertaining read. Obviously well researched, Mr. Shaara has brought figures to life that have been overlooked or brings new, fresh perspectives to others that are well known in history. The portions on the Lafayette Escadrille alone are well worth reading the book yet it offers so much more! The details of the US 2nd Marine Division makes you feel like you're right there alongside Roscoe Temple, Dan Parker and Gino Scarabelli. Wholeheartedly recommend reading this book. You won't be disappointed.