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The Steel Wave: A Novel of World War II Hardcover – May 13, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This keystone of the bestselling WWII trilogy dramatizes D-Day and ups the bar for military historicals, demonstrating that Shaara (The Rising Tide) has hit full stride. The epic-scale novel opens on January 25, 1944, with British commandos gathering soil samples on Omaha Beach to assess landing sites. Shaara gives the Americans, called the great waves of steel by the Germans, their due portion in the grisly, brutal Allied invasion, and the experiences of the grunt soldiers—most notably the indefatigable U.S. Army Sgt. Jesse Adams—offers a field-level view of D-Day and afterward, generating more suspenseful reading than the matter-of-fact accounts of the big-brass dealings of Eisenhower and Churchill. The Allied leaders' personalities emerge with agile clarity, while German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel embodies the good soldier laboring under a delusional Hitler and German High Command ensconced in cozy Berlin. Rommel's ambivalent complicity in the assassination plot on Hitler is convincingly rendered and paves the way for the final act. The muscular prose, deft sense of military drama and relentless pacing are well suited for this crackerjack saga. (May)
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From Booklist

This is the second volume of Shaara’s planned trilogy of novels dealing with America’s role in World War II in Europe. Here Shaara’s topic is D-Day, the Allied effort to begin the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe by amphibious landings on the coast of Normandy. With decades of hindsight, the success of the Normandy invasion may seem inevitable and a tribute to Allied forces. As Shaara’s fine novel illustrates, however, success was far from assured, and the planning fell short in numerous ways. Paratroopers missed their drop sites by miles; air cover for the debarking troops was sporadic; and units became quickly separated on the beaches. On the German side, similar confusion reigned. Although this is technically a work of fiction, Shaara again relies on actual historical figures to tell his story, including Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, Rommel, and von Rundstedt. Although the dialogue is invented, Shaara knows the men and the material so their thoughts and conversations are credible. In the end, it appears, Allied success was due to the actions of hundreds of ordinary soldiers, who combined courage with the ability to improvise when the best laid plans broke down, as they so often do in war. --Jay Freeman

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Product Details

  • Series: World War II (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345461428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345461421
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (461 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,263 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

135 of 137 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In his (now regrettably past) prime, W.E.B. Griffin concocted wonderful war adventures from blending real people and events with fictional characters and circumstances. Jeff Shaara has gone miles beyond Griffin in taking real people, real events, adding just a bit of imagination and turning actual history into great fiction. Truly great fiction.

"The Rising Tide" is the first of a planned trilogy about WWII. For the first few pages, I wondered where Shaara was going. It was more on the order a well written history text. Then it segued to Rommell in the desert . . . and then it dawned on me.

Shaara is bringing us into a part of the lives of Rommel, Eisenhower, Patton, Montgomery, Bradley and ordinary soldiers that we can't touch: the internal happenings of their minds. Shaara's goal is audacious and his success breathtaking.

Most of Shaara's words are spent on the leaders, like Rommell and Eisenhower. Good move: Shaara is able to provide the big picture, the sweep and scope of the war. In less competent hands, I doubt that it would work. But Shaara makes it seem real. The frustrations of Rommel, faced with a deteriorating situation in Africa, the jealousy of other German generals, the incompetence of the Italian leadership, the increasingly delusional Hitler and his own declining health. Shaara puts you in Rommel's mind, so to speak, and he does it well.

The same holds true for Eisenhower, as yet untested as the leader of a never before attempted coalition. Eisenhower is not sure of his own capabilities, but he has virtually no one to confide his fears in. Shaara makes leadership the lonely place it is.

Without spoiling it for the reader, it is difficult to convey Shaara's triumph.
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83 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Roger J. Buffington TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Steel Wave" by Jeff Shaara is the second novel (following "The Rising Tide") in Shaara's planned Second World War historical fiction trilogy. The theme of this novel is the planning and execution of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Northern France. In this piece Shaara uses his now-familiar technique of examining the time period in question from the perspective of historical figures -- some eminent indeed, such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, others less exhalted, i.e. a sergeant of paratroopers. In this novel the approach works superbly, because this novel passes the first critical test--it is one extremely engaging read. The novel moves along at a brisk pace, never loses the reader's interest, and has the ring of realism about it.

The other notable trait of this novel is that once again, Mr. Shaara appears to have done his homework. Shaara's insights into the problems faced by General Eisenhower, the various political leaders, and the men in the field, go well beyond the superficial. Here, the reader truly appreciates the risks and uncertainties that faced the planners and fighters of Operation Overlord. Shaara takes us into the infighting, indecisions, and ultimate risks with which the Allied generals had to contend. My sense is that here, Shaara is fairly evenhanded, although *very minor spoiler* partisans of British General Montgomery will probably not be pleased. And of course, Shaara does a creditable job showing us the invasion from the perspective of the incredibly brave men who actually undertook Operation Overlord and made it a success.

Overall, this is excellent historical fiction about a great subject, that is very well told. Highly recommended.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Reginald Johnson on November 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"The Rising Tide" (historical fiction) is the first of a trilogy by Jeff Shaara. This is a magnificent book - full of intimate and spell-binding details based on World War II. I thoroughly enjoyed it and eagerly anticipate the next book.

Mr. Shaara is a master of this type novel. Earlier works included spectacular depictions of the Civil War and eloquent portrayals of World War I. Like many of you, I did not think there was anything more to learn about World War II - due to countless movies and books on the subject. I was wrong.

The author manages to grab the reader's attention through an invigorating mix of key players. I encountered the usual suspects, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, etc. However, I was captivated by an interesting assortment of obscure characters - which brought texture, warmth, and appeal, to this exceptional read.

The chapter on Erwin Romnel (sometimes called "Desert Fox") kept me riveted. It had more action, suspense, and adventure than a James Bond movie! In the foreword, the author states his goal is to find a few voices, tell the story through their eyes, and put the reader in the same room. I visited that room, met some exceptional people, and had a memorable time. I encourage you to do the same.

Reggie Johnson, Success-Tapes.Com
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Jeff Shaara is unequaled in his ability to turn the dry stuff of history into compelling fiction.

In "The Steel Wave", Shaara turns his attention to the WWII D-Day period, the time leading up to and shortly after the invasion of France over the beaches of Normandy.

He tells us the story through eyes of only a few protagonists: Eisenhower, Rommell and to lesser extents, other leaders such as Churchill, Bradley and Patton. But the bulk of the story rests on the shoulders of Sergeant Jesse Adams, a soldier of the 82nd Airborne Division, whose troops were the first to drop into occupied France.

Shaara's skill is taking the dry stuff of history and turning it into fiction. Here we have Eisenhower in the well documented meeting with meteorologist Captain Stagg deciding whether or not to launch the invasion fleet on June 5, 1944 despite the awful weather. Every one of us who has studied WWII history knows this scene well. But what Shaara does is infuse emotion to Eisenhower that we don't read in the histories. Invented? Yes. Plausible? Wrapped in Shaara's words, very much so.

And so we see things through Rommell's mind as he attempts to carry out his orders to make all of Western Europe's coastline into an impregnable barrier to Allied invasion. Again, the obstacles Rommell faced are well known to history buffs, but it is Shaara's dramatization of Rommell's thoughts that makes for compelling reading.

When Shaara deals with Patton, although to a lesser degree, every student of history will recognize the words and deedsa of Patton as published in a number of books, but what makes this different is Shaara's treatment of Eisenhower's thoughts as he deals with his brilliant, but difficult to handle general.
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