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To The Last Man: A Novel of the First World War Paperback – 2 Jan 2006

2.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; New Ed edition (2 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055381740X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553817409
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 343,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'A gripping account of World War I - from tactics to strategy. The reader feels the horror of the trenches in France' " (General Tommy Franks (US Army, Ret'd))

"'The best novel about the Great War since Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front...compelling, authentic, and imaginative'" (John Mosier, author of 'The Myth of the Great War')

"'A riveting masterpiece revolving around the ghastly conflict that still profoundly defines the world we live in' " (Steve Forbes)

"'Shaara has demonstrated that rarest of writing gifts, making literature read like history and history read like literature...he brings World War I to pulsating life'" (Joseph Persico, author of '11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour: Armistice Day 1918')

"'An epic account...a gruesomely graphic portrayal of the brutality and folly of total war...his descriptions of individual combat in the air and the mass slaughter on the ground are stark, vivid and gripping. He also offers compelling portraits of the politicians and generals whose strategies and decisions killed millions and left Europe a discontented wasteland'" (Publishers Weekly)

Book Description

Epic novel that brings to life the 'war to end all wars' that devastated a generation.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
An interesting take on the First World War, from a distinctly USA point of view - but the book is ultimately disappointing. A historical novel woven around real characters and events, it is never quite clear where historical fact becomes confused with dramatic licence. The portrayal of Sir William Robertson as a Cockney is simply inaccurate, for example. However, I suspect the book is aimed squarely at the USA market, where the consistent portrayal of Europeans as hidebound, unimaginative prisoners of their colonial past will play better than the more complex reality of the situation.

The underlying theme of the book is "If it hadn't have been for the Americans, Britain and France wouldn't have won the war." It's good in parts, and overall probably worth reading if you have an interest in First World War history, but the blurb on the cover promises "The best novel about the First World War since 'All Quiet on the Western Front'" - to which I can only comment: not in my opinion.
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Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed Jeff Shaara's Civil War novels and as a keen student of World War 1 thought this would be a great present for my Dad. He was politely luke warm about it after reading it and he lent it me to read.

I think it's unreadable. When I read the opening chapter or so, I asked myself why were Americans in Ypres in 1915? Slowly it dawned on me. His characters were actually British Tommies but the author has absolutely no idea how British soldiers talked. The British Tommies in the book talk like US troops in Vietnam. They use words like "Greenie" - meaning new recruit. And have nicknames like "Snake".

I skipped to the end where the author pronounces something along the lines of: if it hadn't been for the USA, Britain and France would have lost the War. At that point I put it down. I say don't waste your time or money.

However, on Amazon.com the Americans love it!
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Format: Paperback
With the quote on the first page "the best novel about the Great War since "All Quiet on the Western Front"" and the further comments by Generals Franks and Clark I had high expectations but on reading the glaring inaccuaracies on first few pages I can now understand why the American capacity for friendly fire seems so prevalent. On page 22 he has the BEF in August 1914 of nearly 500,000 (we only sentjust under 100,000).The first chapter set in the autumn of 1915 has British soldiers in helmets (not issued until the following year), a company at one tenth its strength (somewhat exaggerated)and men in the frontline for months(3-4 days being the norm). Within hours of arrival the recruit is going over the top in a mass attack - a rare event in reality and certainly not carried out at one tenth strength. Most over the top activity was in the form of trench raids and reparing the wire. At this point I gave up preferring not to waste my time. I conclude that the author's research probably consisted of watching a few episodes of "Black Adder goes forth". My advice to any one seeing this book - Don't bother. Read "Birdsong" instead.It is far better researched and atleast has some literary merit.
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Format: Paperback
Oh dear. After receiving this novel with high hopes, as a Christmas gift, I was very disappointed indeed. The research is limited, the dialogue unmistakably American - regardless of the characters' nationality - and the narrative rambling and in desperate need of an editor.

Don't bother.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Shaara's style doesn't seem to fit the WW1 scenario as well as it did the Civil War novels he wrote. I was also irritated by the assumption in the book that the USA won WW1 - as well as WW2 presumably - and single handed too, with little help from those pesky Brits! The interplay between Pershing and the US Government is well covered however and, as it frequently the case with historical novels, will encourage me to read more widely in "real" history books about this.
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Format: Paperback
The book starts out pretty well but slows down and becomes less interesting after the death of the two flyers. It is also painfully pro-American which would not be so difficult to deal with if it were not for the heavy anti-British bias. America is portrayed as being a fantastic military power hampered by a poorly run government. Any success the British achieve is always dismissed as being due to luck or being more a failure of the Germans. Even the French are treated better with many of their failures being generously excused by the author. The version I have is also heavily marred by the constant and clearly random hyphenating of many words and names, its clearly a clerical error as on some pages a characters name will have a hyphen in it and then further down the page will not, its annoying. The only positive I can find is the authors style is fairly readable.
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Format: Paperback
I too was given this book as a Christmas present, but like one of the previous reviewers I kept skipping pages to see when the real book would start. For me it never did. The author may be a historian, but his unexciting descriptive narrative never really brought the period to life. Pershing was very two-dimensional and whilst it was good to read about the war from an American perspective, I actually found it quite dull. How genuine the exchanges between the French generals and politicians and Pershing were I have no idea, but they are all written in such an American idiom that it never seems convincing.

Similarly, the limited interaction between British and American is stilted and conforming to Hollywood British character stereotype and you become acutely aware that book really is not written as an historical account of a very limited part of the Great War, but more as a semi-factual novel written for the American market for Americans - nothing wrong in that that, but from a European perspective, somewhat uninvolving and confusing.

His choice of characters never really sprang to life and I became insanely exasperated with Temple - characters similar to his have been done to death by the entertainment industry across several theatres of war from Cold Mountain to Longest Day to Private Ryan and Pork Chop Hill, not to mention all the Vietnam war movies. His character - a genuine one who you would think therefore had something unique to add because he was real - is simply a cipher and I feel if you want to read an account of a soldier's experiences in the trenches, you would do better to read Goodbye To All That or All Quiet on the Western Front.
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