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The Final Storm: A Novel of the War in the Pacific (Random House Large Print) Paperback – Large Print, May 24, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Letter from Author Jeff Shaara
Though Hollywood has given us countless ways to dramatize the Second World War in the Pacific, the challenge for me was to bring to the reader a story that isn’t simply a rehash of everything you’ve heard before. And, where Hollywood is often less concerned with keeping the history accurate, I have always felt that if I’m going to tell any story like this, “getting it right” is key. When dealing with World War II, my research often included conversations with living veterans, and ignoring their truth just to “beef up” the tale, does an incredible injustice to what those veterans accomplished.

In the Second World War, the Japanese were unlike any enemy we had ever faced, a very different enemy than the Germans. We had very little understanding of their culture, of how seriously they took their loyalty and obedience to their emperor, and we were completely unprepared for their willingness to die rather than accept the dishonor of surrender. For young soldiers and Marines who faced this determination, the fights often became a slaughter on a scale no one could have imagined. To put a nineteen year old boy into that position, and hope that he responds appropriately is not a typical method of training our young troops.

In researching The Final Storm, I was surprised to find a significant amount of humanity among the Japanese commanders whose voices became a vital part of this story. Okinawa was the last great stronghold that held the American wave away from Japan itself, and the Japanese troops assigned to defend the island country knew that there could be no retreat. The Americans who confronted them had to fight not only this extreme dedication, but the weather and the geography as well. A fight that was scheduled to last a month, took three. How and why are far more interesting to me than a simple history lesson.

If this story is not a history lesson, it is also not an exercise in blood and guts. That kind of story would get old very quickly. What has always drawn me to these stories are the characters. I am not concerned with giving you every detail of the numbers of casualties or the positions of troops. There are historians far more qualified to do that. My job as the storyteller is to find the voices that will carry you (along with me) into the story itself. My search is to find a story beneath the history lesson, to feel it, hear it, smell it, to explore not only the horror, but the laughter (and yes, there is laughter. There has to be.) What kind of thinking and agonizing goes into command decisions? What makes a nineteen year old Marine rise up from a muddy hole to drive forward into the enemy he cannot even see?

While much of The Final Storm focuses on the great struggle for Okinawa, this story does not end there. One more extraordinary drama must be played out, the story of how the Second World War actually ends: the dropping of the first atomic bombs. Through characters such as Paul Tibbets and General Curtis LeMay, I try to show just how much tension and how much mystery surrounded the bombs themselves. Consider that, to the young crews of the aircrafts that were to carry the bombs over Japan, none had any idea what would happen when the bombs were actually exploded, whether their own planes would disintegrate, along with the targets they were seeking. On the ground, the Japanese civilians had already experienced massive bombing strikes from American planes, and so, on that morning of August 6, 1945, the sight of a single B-29 bomber high in the clouds above causes no real concern. That point of view is here as well, a Japanese doctor who is weary of the war, of what he knows to be the propaganda being fed to the people by their military. And yet, he has his own duty to fulfill.

There are debates ongoing today about whether the United States did the “right thing” by ending the war the way we did. The decisions made by President Harry Truman are controversial even now. My job is not to anguish over morality, or debate what is politically correct. Ultimately I have one goal: to bring you the best and most accurate story I can, as told by those who were there. With so few veterans of World War Two remaining with us, I believe we must be reminded just why we owe them our thanks, and why their legacies must be remembered. I hope you enjoy the story.

--Jeff Shaara, May 2011

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


The Rising Tide

“Wonderful . . . Shaara evokes the agony of desert warfare and the utter chaos of an airborne assault. . . . [A] sprawling, masterful opening act.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Shaara’s research is finely woven into his narrative. . . . Shaara is apparently giving the people what they want—and what they need.”—The Wall Street Journal
The Steel Wave
“Magnificent . . . Intense, compelling, and thoroughly researched, this is much more than just an excellent historical novel.”—Library Journal

“Pounding with fierce action and human drama, and packed with accurately rendered history, The Steel Wave is an eye-opening reminder of the bitterly high price that combat soldiers have always been called upon to pay.”—St. Petersburg Times
No Less Than Victory
“[An] incisive portrait of war . . . Shaara [is] one of the grand masters of military fiction.—BookPage
“Powerful . . . impossible to put down until the very end.”—Huntington News Network

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Random House Large Print
  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Large Print; Lrg edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739378201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739378205
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,176,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of The Steel Wave, The Rising Tide, To the Last Man, The Glorious Cause, Rise to Rebellion, and Gone for Soldiers, as well as Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure-two novels that complete the Civil War trilogy that began with his father's Pulitzer Prize--winning classic The Killer Angels. Shaara was born into a family of Italian immigrants in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University. He lives in Gettysburg.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For those who think of World War II as old history, this book should be a revelation. Shaara excels at bringing battles to life, showing the men who fought and the leaders who planned them and the outcomes. These are rarely as clearcut as history books would indicate and the human element is usually lost in the telling.

After his trilogy covering the war in North Africa and Europe, Shaara was asked by many, especially Marines, if he planned to write about the Pacific theater as well. He tells briefly of the island-hopping, the fierce battles with their terrible toll in lives lost, and the strategy to bring the battle finally to the shores of Japan. Then he tells in depth of the fight for Okinawa, the last island before Japan, and of the decision to use the atomic bomb to end the war.

The use of the bomb is debated still, and this book will help put in perspective the situation that led to the final decision.

Shaara's focus is on the Marines on Okinawa while he acknowledges that an infantry unit also fought valiantly to overcome fierce Japanese resistance. He follows a Marine private and the Japanese commander as well as the U.S. Pacific commanders, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz. For the most part he stays with the Marines.

To tell more would lessen the impact of the book, but it is as fine a portrayal of men at war as I have ever read. I highly recommend it .
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
We should all be thankful that Jeff Shaara can succumb to a bit of pressure from his readers.

In a brief introductory note to "The Final Storm," Shaara writes that he didn't really intend to write a novel about America's war in the Pacific, but in large part due to the letters from indignant WWII vets who fought there he and his publisher relented. We're lucky he did.

Picking up where Shaara's European WWII trilogy left off, America's war against Japan rages on even as Germany and Italy surrender. The Marines and the Navy have turned back the Japanese offensive but face stiffening resistance as they island-hop toward the Japanese homeland. Iwo Jima has fallen , and the Marines (bolstered by Army infantry and the Navy) have turned their sights to the massive Japanese force on Okinawa. Shaara, true to form, tells this story through the eyes of a specific character for each chapter, and we see the vast majority of the Okinawa fight through the eyes of Marine Private Clay Adams, whose successes in the unit boxing matches has not erased the shame brought on by his long stretch in a hospital and cushy recovery duty following a vicious infection.

Adams wants to fight, and heads into one of the biggest nightmares ever faced by a soldier.

The Japanese side of the battle for Okinawa comes from General Ushijima, the Japanese commander on Okinawa. A true soldier, Ushijima suffers no illusions about his ability to defeat the Americans with their mighty fleet, commanding air superiority, and limitless war materiel. But Ushijima is samurai, and he will die doing his duty. A brilliant tactician, Ushijima combines a masterful defensive network with the fanatical devotion of his soldiers to create a nightmare for the invading U.S. troops.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a fan of Shaara's previous books, I felt very fortunate to be able to read and comment on an advance review copy of The Final Storm. Shaara is true to his typical form in this novel, immediately thrusting you into the action of a US submariner in 1945 as his ship patrols near the coast of Japan and the ensuing conflict with a freighter and Japanese submarine. Your emotions and tension rise and fall as he weaves you into the mind of the ship's captain.

Not just following the submariner crew, Shaara also weaves you in and out of other simultaneous story lines such as a Marine unit before and during the invasion of Okinawa, Admiral Nimitz, and also from the viewpoint of the Japanese soldier. I don't know how he does it, but Shaara makes you feel as if you are there and relate to the different "main" character of each sub-story line - even to respecting and feeling a part of the enemy commanders, this time the Japanese. Your heart goes out to some of the characters: you feel bad when they feel bad, feel pain when they feel pain, etc.

In addition to having you feel a part of the character, I think the best thing I like about this and other books by Jeff Shaara are taking one small piece of the historical timeline, thoroughly researching the good and the bad of the characters and the events surrounding them, and developing a realistic and fact-based account of what happened: in addition to reading a great story you also learn something about historical events.

If you couldn't tell, I thought this book was outstanding and highly recommend it, and I am looking forward to more!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I confess that I am often ambivalent about historical fiction that puts us in the heads of actual people. Often, they don't feel like individuals but instead come across as stock stereotypes displaying mannerisms instead of personalities. When it is done well though, it can be a great hook. Here, it works.

The book tells the story from the point of view of several historical characters as the battle for Okinawa is waged and the atomic bombs are dropped on Japan. As much as any book I've read, it really displays the brutality of the Pacific war, the impact that it had on the men who fought it, and what was going on in their heads. Mr. Shaara nailed the characters, especially the Marines on the ground, and I felt echoes of their fear, anger, rage, depression, etc. This is not a book that I was able to put down and pick up again a few days later, I wanted to find out what happened to Private Adams and his team-mates and I dreaded the deaths of those around him.

It's just a great book. Involving, well written, with some great characters that drew me in. If you're interested in the Pacific War or really fine historical fiction, this book is a perfect fit.

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