Summary and book reviews of The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara

The Last Full Measure

By Jeff Shaara

The Last Full Measure
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  • Hardcover: Jun 1998,
    560 pages.
    Paperback: May 1999,
    560 pages.

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Book Summary

In the Pulitzer prize-winning classic The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara created the finest Civil War novel of our time, an enduring bestseller that has sold more than two million copies. In the bestselling Gods and Generals, Shaara's son, Jeff, brilliantly sustained his father's vision, telling the epic story of the events culminating in the Battle of Gettysburg. Now, Jeff Shaara brings this legendary father-son trilogy to its stunning conclusion in a novel that brings to life the final two years of the Civil War.

As The Last Full Measure opens, Gettysburg is past and the war advances to its third brutal year. On the Union side, the gulf between the politicians in Washington and the generals in the field yawns ever wider. Never has the cumbersome Union Army so desperately needed a decisive, hard-nosed leader. It is at this critical moment that Lincoln places Ulysses S. Grant in command--and turns the tide of war.

For Robert E. Lee, Gettysburg was an unspeakable disaster--compounded by the shattering loss of the fiery Stonewall Jackson two months before. Lee knows better than anyone that the South cannot survive a war of attrition. But with the total devotion of his generals--Longstreet, Hill, Stuart--and his unswerving faith in God, Lee is determined to fight to the bitter end.

Here too is Joshua Chamberlain, the college professor who emerged as the Union hero of Gettysburg--and who will rise to become one of the greatest figures of the Civil War.

Battle by staggering battle, Shaara dramatizes the escalating confrontation between Lee and Grant--complicated, heroic, deeply troubled men. From the costly Battle of the Wilderness to the agonizing siege of Petersburg to Lee's epoch-making surrender at Appomattox, Shaara portrays the riveting conclusion of the Civil War through the minds and hearts of the individuals who gave their last full measure.

Full of human passion and the spellbinding truth of history, The Last Full Measure is the fitting capstone to a magnificent literary trilogy.

Excerpt
The Last Full Measure

July 1863 the Civil War has been fought over the farmlands and seacoasts of the South for better than two years, and is already one of the bloodiest wars in human history.

It is a war that most believed would be decided by one quick fight, one great show of strength by the power of the North. The first major battle, called Bull Run in the North, Manassas in the South, is witnessed by a carefree audience of Washington's elite. Their brightly decorated carriages carry men in fine suits and society matrons in colorful dresses.

They perch on a hillside, enjoying their picnics, anticipating a great show with bands playing merrily while the young men in blue march in glorious parade and sweep aside the ragged band of rebels. What they see is the first great horror, the stunning reality that this is in fact a war, and that men will die. What they still cannot understand is how far this will go, and how many men will die.

In the North, President ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Concluding the Civil War trilogy that began with his father Michael's Pulitzer-winning The Killer Angels, Shaara (Gods and Generals) chronicles Lee's retreat from Gettysburg and his valiant efforts to defend northern Virginia from Grant's superior, better-supplied forces.....the occasionally coarse grain of Shaara's characterizations is a problem. Haunted by Stonewall Jackson's ghost, 56-year-old Lee frequently appears to be a semisenile neurotic. Grant, more concerned about his supply of cigars than battle losses, comes across as a dolt. This tendency toward caricature notwithstanding, Shaara has produced a stirring epigraph to his father's remarkable novel.

Library Journal

As characters, Grant and Lee dominate this book, overshadowing such other historical figures as Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and John Gordon. Civil War buffs will find Shaara nodding on some small details, but they generally will be delighted with this book. More general readers, however, may find it lacks the dramatic intensity of his father's riveting novel. While not ranking with the very best Civil War fiction, it does take its place along side such fine ones as William Safire's Freedom

The Baltimore Sun

A worthy companion to its two predecessors. . . These characters come alive as complex, heroic, and flawed men. . . . You are with [Robert E.] Lee, a deeply religious man, as he first begins to wonder if the Confederate cause will prevail. . . . You ride with [Ulysses S.] Grant to see the mounds of Union dead at Cold Harbor, and you share his sickening realization that thousands are dead because of his miscalculation. . . . You are at [Joshua] Chamberlain's bedside as he fights to recover from nearly mortal wounds. . . . Each book is masterful in its own way and taken together, they are unmatched in the body of Civil War literature.

Reader Reviews
fdhdfh

this book was awesome

Sanjeet S. Parab

I feel that Jeff has lived up to his dad's name. By far one of the best books I have ever read. I am not a real big reader and it takes a lot to interest, but when I read Killer Angels I loved it. At first when I bought Jeff's bood Gods and Generals...   Read More

Kate

I found this book to be excellent. The accounts of all the men, on both sides were moving. Before reading this book, I had no true understanding of the war; thought it was a war of the North, fighting for what was right, and the South fighting to ...   Read More

Jeremy Sproat

I feel that Jeff Sharra has lived up to his dads name. By far one of the best books i read. I am not a real big reader and it takes a lot to interest me,but when i read The Killer Angels I loved it. At first when I bought Jeffs book Gods And Generals...   Read More

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