Jeff Shaara is truly a master at depicting the intricacies of war. In The Last Full Measure, he takes on the final battles of the Civil War, and what surely must be going through the heads of the most notable military figures of these conflicts.
This book is the last part of the trilogy that began with Jeff’s father, Michael Shaara. And like the Pulitzer Prize winning parent, Jeff Shaara takes on the sequels to The Killer Angels with a thoroughly researched and highly exciting take on the events of this defining moment in American history.
There was something about this novel that fully gripped me in way that Gods and Generals did not. From the beginning, Shaara helps you to understand the strategy that Grant lays out and also to understand that Lee does not fully comprehend Grant’s aim until it is too late: not to destroy Richmond, but to destroy Lee.
Grant pounds and pounds at Lee’s army, until it is but a shell of what it once was. There is a wonderful defining moment near the end, where Chamberlain is able to finally catch up with Lee, and rising a hilltop, looks down upon the Confederates at Appomattox:
“Then he understood what lay across this small valley in front of him. It was not a division, it was not even a fighting force at all. It was what remained of Lee’s army.”
Powerful stuff. It doesn’t get much better than this.
4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1998