Monday, July 7, 2008
Jeff Shaara is the son of Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Shaara who, like his father, tries to write extremely accurate historical fiction from the point of view of famous people embroiled in the events themselves. Michael won the Pulitzer for The Killer Angels, his book about Gettysburg, and I’ve also read Jeff’s Gods and Generals, which is a prequel to his father’s book, detailing the events in the Civil War up to the time of Gettysburg. As I recall, I found Gods and Generals to be rushed, covering way too many battles too quickly, leaving the reader with little thought or concern for the actors involved, something his father did exceptionally well in The Killer Angels. Jeff does a better job in Rise to Rebellion, which is a story of the American Revolution from the Boston Massacre in 1770 to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin come off the page as real people, which probably isn’t too difficult, based on all the writings each of them left behind, but so do Thomas Gage and—for the first time for me, at least—George Washington.