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In May 1863, after months of hard and bitter combat, Union troops under the command of Major General Ulysses S. Grant at long last successfully cross the Mississippi River. They force the remnants of Confederate Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton’s army to retreat to Vicksburg, burning the bridges over the Big Black River in its path. But after sustaining heavy casualties in two failed assaults against the rebels, Union soldiers are losing confidence and morale is low. Grant reluctantly decides to lay siege to the city, trapping soldiers and civilians alike inside an iron ring of Federal entrenchments. Ten days later, the starving and destitute Southerners finally surrender, yielding command of the Mississippi River to the Union forces on July 4 - Independence Day - and marking a crucial turning point in the Civil War.
Drawing on comprehensive research and his own intimate knowledge of the Vicksburg Campaign, Jeff Shaara once again weaves brilliant fiction out of the ragged cloth of historical fact. From the command tents where generals plot strategy to the ruined mansions where beleaguered citizens huddle for safety, this is a panoramic portrait of men and women whose lives are forever altered by the siege. On one side stand the emerging legend Grant, his irascible second William T. Sherman, and the youthful "grunt" Private Fritz Bauer; on the other, the Confederate commanders Pemberton and Joseph Johnston, as well as 19-year-old Lucy Spence, a civilian doing her best to survive in the besieged city. By giving voice to their experiences at Vicksburg, A Chain of Thunder vividly evokes a battle whose outcome still reverberates more than 150 years after the cannons fell silent.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By C. Ubik on 06-23-13
Not content to rest on his laurels
Would you listen to A Chain of Thunder again? Why?
Yes. Shaara's novels (yes, they are novels and not history, as Shaara himself is the first to admit) get the historical details right, which is what makes them a joy to read. But more importantly, his decision years back to stop focusing on the generals and include the perspective of average soldiers has resulted in interesting characters that you find yourself actually caring about. With "A Chain of Thunder" he starts weaving in civilians as well - a young Southern lady, in fact - which makes the story all that more interesting.
Who was your favorite character and why?
William T. Sherman, hand's down. He's one of my favorite historical personages and Shaara has done a great job capturing his complexities and contradictions.
Which scene was your favorite?
I won't say, simply because it was an unexpected and heartbreaking moment and to talk about it would ruin it for others. Suffice to say I shouted "Shaara, you jerk!" several times at my iPhone.
Who was the most memorable character of A Chain of Thunder and why?
Lucy Spence. Shaara is really stepping out of his comfort zone by writing a female character into his books and not only does he break new ground (for him) with Lucy, but she's believable.
Any additional comments?
It is obvious that the large portions of the audio had to be re-recorded and the narrator's timbre and delivery can change several times in a paragraph. This is not unusual for audiobooks, but I was surprised at how many times it happened with this one. It distracts, but does not detract.
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