three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
27-Mar-Apr-2007
By: 
Jeff Shaara
user_rating: 
0

A Novel of World War II

A-The Rising TideThis first installment of a planned trilogy on World War II opens in 1942 with United States troops set to battle Germany’s Afrika Korps, led by Erwin Rommel—the infamous "Desert Fox"—in the sands of North Africa. Jeff Shaara recounts those engagements—in all the chaos, brutality, and heroism of full-scale warfare—in part through the experiences of two soldiers, Private Jack Logan, a tank gunner, and Sergeant Jesse Adams, a paratrooper. Eisenhower, Patton, Montgomery, Churchill, Roosevelt, and others make appearances as well. They make tactical decisions that help determine America’s fate in The Good War as the surging Allies move from Africa to Italy and plan for an invasion of Normandy.
Ballantine. 576 pages. $27.95. ISBN: 034546141X

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4 of 5 Stars
"A readable, often exciting and occasionally moving account of America’s entry into the war against Nazi Germany, from the U.S. invasion of North Africa in November 1942 through the attack on Sicily and the first phase of the assault on the Italian mainland in September 1943. … The indelible panorama Shaara paints all around them draws us into the horror and heroism of war." Peter B. King

Columbus Dispatch 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The history is solid, and the characters have more flesh than, say, any created by John Grisham. Shaara has a solid franchise going, and those who have read and liked his and his father’s previous efforts will watch with curiosity to see how the kid handles D-Day." Michael Arace

Ft. Worth Star Telegram 3 of 5 Stars
"In a sense, The Rising Tide is more docudrama than novel: Although the tale has its moments of close-up blood, smoke, sweat and fears (particularly in its paratrooper episodes), for the most part there is a certain distance to the telling. … [The novel] probably will not satisfy all readers of war tales, but with its clear prose, maps and wealth of detail, it is likely to appeal to those who like their military history with a dollop of fictional drama." Alan Cochrum

Dallas Morning News 3 of 5 Stars
"Although rich in specific details and demonstrated knowledge of the arms and accoutrements of combat, the overall history of the war is often reduced to a sort of Cliff’s Notes summary, avoiding complexities that might cloud issues. … Historians will squirm because of [Shaara’s] tendency to skim and generalize, but those who want a rip-roaring, patriotically affirming and G-rated dramatization of The Good War will be immensely satisfied." Clay Reynolds

Rocky Mountain News 3 of 5 Stars
"The pace never flags, and readers are seldom lost in detail. … Rather than being analyzed, principal figures are described in terms of familiar clichés." Rex Burns

Critical Summary

The prolific Jeff Shaara, son of late novelist Michael Shaara, has published sprawling fictionalized accounts of the American Revolution (a trilogy), World War I, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Gods and Generals (1996) and The Last Full Measure (1998) were, respectively, the prequel and sequel to his father’s 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels. Although Shaara’s relentless pacing draws readers to Rising Tide, critics point to the sacrifices that make the book so compelling. They cite, for example, some flimsy characters and an occasional lack of historical depth (Rex Burns deems the novel "a good yarn that will make readers feel as if they’re reading the History Channel"). Still, any history buff keen on a fast-paced read about the Greatest Generation will enjoy The Rising Tide.