Book Review: No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II by Jeff Shaara

May 16, 2011

About:
“No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II” by Jeff Shaara (web­site) is a his­tor­i­cal fic­tion book which blends his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ters, fact and fic­tion into a read­able story. The book is the third of a series about World War II.

Book Review: No Less Than Victory- A Novel of World War II by Jeff ShaaraMy rating for No Less Than Victory – 5
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Thoughts:
I thought: No Less Than Victory” by Jeff Shaara was the best of the series. This is the third book of a tril­ogy by the author, the first being “The Ris­ing Tide” (book review) and the second being “The Steel Wave” (book review)  of this his­tor­i­cal fic­tion series.

In his usual style of “historical fiction” Mr. Shaara takes us through the European theater in WWII as seen through the eyes of its generals, politicians and, the parts I found most interesting, the soldiers themselves.

This is solid storytelling, primarily focusing on the Battle of the Bulge, as seen through the eyes of the grunts, and as managed by the generals on both sides of the fence. Unlike the authors other books, this book has less characters (or so it seemed at least) which I find to be more appealing and less confusing. Even though it’s always fun to read about Eisenhower decision making process or the clashes between Montgomery and Patton the story focuses on Private Eddie Benson and his experiences at “mud level”. Some interesting characters, such as Germans Gerd von Rundstedt and Albert Speer,  also represent the axis’ point of view.

The reader’s journey through the eyes of Benson, while peeking in the minds of the generals is a winning combination which makes the story more personal and engrossing.

Even though I have heard many people who condemn the oxymoron called “historical fiction” it has worked for me personally. Because of Mr. Shaara’s Civil War books I read many other historical books and biographies of the characters I was interested in – so as you can see, I think that writing about history on a grounded, personal level has many benefits especially for those who don’t’ find history as fascinating as I do.

My only comment is that I think it would be wonderful if Mr. Shaara could provide some pictures of the personalities involved so we can see what they look truly look like (instead, for example, picture George C. Scott as General Patton or Ike as the President).

As he does in all his books, Mr. Shaara lets the reader know what happened to each person after the war – an invaluable  addition.

Synopsis:
The book begins after the Normandy invasion. The allied generals are confident that the war will be over in a few weeks, but Hitler is not so sure. Despite the advice of his generals, Hitler launches a desperate counteroffensive in the Ardennes Forest surprising the Americans.

The story is told through the eyes of Eisenhower, Patton, private Eddie Benson as well as Germans Gerd von Rundstedt and Albert Speer.

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Zohar – Man of la Book

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4 Comments

  • Alex Baugh May 16, 2011 at 7:48 am

    This sounds really good, I like the idea of the different viewpoints and who the author chose for that. A much more sophisticated view of WW II than the books I usually read for my blog, but not personally. Thanks for the enticing review.

  • Aths May 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    My! You make me really excited about this series! I can’t wait to start it. Since you have rated it highly, I’m wondering how well would you rate this against a typical nonfiction account of WW2? I may never read the latter (except maybe memoirs/biographies set in WW2) – I like to read about the war from people’s perspective, so this set of “stories” seem just up my alley.

    • zohar May 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks for the comment Aths.

      It depends on the narrative. Some historical narrative are brilliant (Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zukoff http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=1917) some less so.

      It’s difficult to compare because of the different genre.

  • Pete May 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Great review. I’ve just finished reading Herman Wouk’s Winds of War and War and Remembrance series which, like lots of typical historical fiction has a cast running up into the hundreds. These look interesting if they’re more focused. I’ll have too look for these, thanks for the review!

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