Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Amelia Island Book Festival - Jeff Shaara

Amelia Island Book Festival - Author Focus
February 11-14 – 2010

Festival Focus
A series of reviews of books to be featured at the Amelia Island Book Festival – 2010. Reviewers represent a broad spectrum of community readers and writers. Author Jeff Shaara will be a featured author at the Festival, Feb. 11-14, 2010.

The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara
Reviewed by Cal Atwood

Jeff Shaara is a name to be reckoned with. Readers probably came across him early on when his first book, Gods and Generals, arrived on the scene as a major motion picture—released by Warner Brothers in 1995.

Shaara comes by his literary legacy honestly. His father, Michael Shaara, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for his classic novel The Killer Angels, which became the motion picture Gettysburg in 1993. Readers may have seen Shaara’s fine baseball story, starring Kevin Costner, For Love of The Game.
So, it seems like we are always looking for another good book to read. If you like action locked into a history background, you might just want to light up your reading lamp and dive into a book by Jeff Shaara. He has written some mighty sturdy books about the Revolutionary War, the Mexican War, Civil War and World Wars I and II. I have read most of his works and found them always to be a sterling read.

The Steel Wave, of Shaara’s three books on World War II, begins with a commando raid in January 1944 to get sand and soil samples from the Normandy beaches. Later, we zoom into preparations for the invasion, the invasion in June, and continue on in battle form to the death of Rommel in September, 1944. Freighted with action, this novel centers around the parachute drops of the Airborne Divisions, the 81st and the 101st, behind enemy lines at Normandy. The reader is mesmerized by the terrible terrain of the landing zones and the extreme hardships of the drops. Dozens of vicious and deadly skirmishes take place against the formidable German troops within a few miles and in St. Mere Eglise. If anyone thinks they might want to wear the wings and boots of a parachutist, it would be a good idea to read this book first---the glamour disappears in a flash.

The terrain behind the lines is extremely dangerous as is Shaara’s voyage into the minds of some of the troopers on the ground: Adams, Thorne, Scofield, and Unger. Even more dangerously, we also visit the minds of combat leaders as they make pivotal decisions. For example: Gavin, Ridgway, Rommel, Patton, Eisenhower. Shaara is challenged to get in the minds of those in combat, difficult if not impossible to do.

Shaara obviously did the voluminous research and possesses the skill and power to present his characters in eminently believable form.

The reviewer, Cal Atwood, lives on Amelia Island with his wife Carol Ann. As a marine serving in WW II, he landed on Iwo Jima. He is active in the Marine Corp League. He was president of both the North Carolina Poetry Society and the Georgia State Poetry Society and currently serves on the board of the Amelia Island Museum of History. Atwood enjoyed a distinguished career as an educator and influenced many with his own life experience.

For more information about the Amelia Island Book Festival visit: http://www.ameliaislandbookfestival.com/

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