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The Fateful Lightning

Cover of The Fateful Lightning

The Fateful Lightning

Civil War in the West Series, Book 4
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From Jeff Shaara comes the riveting final installment in the Civil War series that began with A Blaze of Glory and continued in A Chain of Thunder and The Smoke at Dawn.
November 1864: As the Civil War rolls into its fourth bloody year, the tide has turned decidedly in favor of the Union. A grateful Abraham Lincoln responds to Ulysses S. Grant's successes by bringing the general east, promoting Grant to command the entire Union war effort, while William Tecumseh Sherman now directs the Federal forces that occupy all of Tennessee.
In a massive surge southward, Sherman conquers the city of Atlanta, sweeping aside the Confederate army under the inept leadership of General John Bell Hood. Pushing through northern Georgia, Sherman's legendary "March to the Sea" shoves away any Rebel presence, and by Christmas 1864 the city of Savannah falls into the hands of "Uncle Billy." Now there is but one direction for Sherman to go. In his way stands the last great hope for the Southern cause, General Joseph E. Johnston.
In the concluding novel of his epic Civil War tetralogy, Jeff Shaara tells the dramatic story of the final eight months of battle from multiple perspectives: the commanders in their tents making plans for total victory, as well as the ordinary foot soldiers and cavalrymen who carried out their orders until the last alarum sounded. Through Sherman's eyes, we gain insight into the mind of the general who vowed to "make Georgia howl" until it surrendered. In Johnston, we see a man agonizing over the limits of his army's power, and accepting the burden of leading the last desperate effort to ensure the survival of the Confederacy.
The Civil War did not end quietly. It climaxed in a storm of fury that lay waste to everything in its path. The Fateful Lightning brings to life those final brutal, bloody months of fighting with you-are-there immediacy, grounded in the meticulous research that readers have come to expect from Jeff Shaara.
Praise for Jeff Shaara's new Civil War series

The Fateful Lightning

"Powerful and emotional . . . highly recommended."Historical Novels Review
"Outstanding . . . Shaara combines his extensive knowledge of military history with his consummate skill as a storyteller."Booklist
"Readers [who are] looking for an absorbing novel will be well rewarded."The Clarion-Ledger
"A great accomplishment and a more than fitting conclusion to Shaara's work on the Civil War."Bookreporter

A Blaze of Glory
"[An] exciting read . . . This novel is meticulously researched and brings a vivid reality to the historical events depicted."Library Journal
"Dynamic portrayals [of] Johnston, Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman."—The Wall Street Journal
A Chain of Thunder
"Shaara continues to draw powerful novels from the bloody history of the Civil War."—Kirkus Reviews
"Shaara's historical accuracy is faultless. . . . The voices of these people come across to the reader as poignantly clear as they did 150 years ago."—Historical Novels Review
The Smoke at Dawn
"Beautifully written . . . Shaara once again elevates history from mere rote fact to explosive and engaging drama."Bookreporter
From the Hardcover edition.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From Jeff Shaara comes the riveting final installment in the Civil War series that began with A Blaze of Glory and continued in A Chain of Thunder and The Smoke at Dawn.
November 1864: As the Civil War rolls into its fourth bloody year, the tide has turned decidedly in favor of the Union. A grateful Abraham Lincoln responds to Ulysses S. Grant's successes by bringing the general east, promoting Grant to command the entire Union war effort, while William Tecumseh Sherman now directs the Federal forces that occupy all of Tennessee.
In a massive surge southward, Sherman conquers the city of Atlanta, sweeping aside the Confederate army under the inept leadership of General John Bell Hood. Pushing through northern Georgia, Sherman's legendary "March to the Sea" shoves away any Rebel presence, and by Christmas 1864 the city of Savannah falls into the hands of "Uncle Billy." Now there is but one direction for Sherman to go. In his way stands the last great hope for the Southern cause, General Joseph E. Johnston.
In the concluding novel of his epic Civil War tetralogy, Jeff Shaara tells the dramatic story of the final eight months of battle from multiple perspectives: the commanders in their tents making plans for total victory, as well as the ordinary foot soldiers and cavalrymen who carried out their orders until the last alarum sounded. Through Sherman's eyes, we gain insight into the mind of the general who vowed to "make Georgia howl" until it surrendered. In Johnston, we see a man agonizing over the limits of his army's power, and accepting the burden of leading the last desperate effort to ensure the survival of the Confederacy.
The Civil War did not end quietly. It climaxed in a storm of fury that lay waste to everything in its path. The Fateful Lightning brings to life those final brutal, bloody months of fighting with you-are-there immediacy, grounded in the meticulous research that readers have come to expect from Jeff Shaara.
Praise for Jeff Shaara's new Civil War series

The Fateful Lightning

"Powerful and emotional . . . highly recommended."Historical Novels Review
"Outstanding . . . Shaara combines his extensive knowledge of military history with his consummate skill as a storyteller."Booklist
"Readers [who are] looking for an absorbing novel will be well rewarded."The Clarion-Ledger
"A great accomplishment and a more than fitting conclusion to Shaara's work on the Civil War."Bookreporter

A Blaze of Glory
"[An] exciting read . . . This novel is meticulously researched and brings a vivid reality to the historical events depicted."Library Journal
"Dynamic portrayals [of] Johnston, Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman."—The Wall Street Journal
A Chain of Thunder
"Shaara continues to draw powerful novels from the bloody history of the Civil War."—Kirkus Reviews
"Shaara's historical accuracy is faultless. . . . The voices of these people come across to the reader as poignantly clear as they did 150 years ago."—Historical Novels Review
The Smoke at Dawn
"Beautifully written . . . Shaara once again elevates history from mere rote fact to explosive and engaging drama."Bookreporter
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • From the cover Chapter One



    Sherman



    Atlanta, Georgia—­November 16, 1864

    He halted the horse at the crest of a hill, pulled back on the reins, stared out westward for a long moment. The staff did the same, following his lead, spreading out to give him room, no one moving close unless he was told to. He heard the low murmurs, their reaction to what they were leaving behind them, the picture they would carry within them for the rest of their lives, the perfect portrait of absolute victory.

    Sherman held the horse as still as possible, the high-­spirited animal moving nervously beneath him, seeming to know there was much more to be done. He clamped his legs in tight, calming the horse, his focus now on the scene. He didn't try to see detail, absorbed instead the vast panorama, the entire city offering itself as a marvelous showpiece. He wrapped his mind around that, what this meant, what it would mean to Grant, to the War Department, what it would mean to all those whose homes were boiling up in black smoke. Pieces of the enemy, he thought. No, it is more. It is the enemy itself. All of it. Everything I can see, everything beneath the march of my army.

    The sun was rising behind him, but the city was lit from within, the spreading fires blowing through the fragility of the wooden structures, homes, businesses, factories. He had no urge to destroy the homes, had surprised his staff the night before when he pitched in, trying to extinguish the flames on several small houses near his headquarters. Those fires were premature, without purpose, defiance of his orders that infuriated him. His hands were still smeared with soot, but he ignored that, the futility and anger now past. Throughout the night the fires grew far beyond what a few men attempted to contain. Those men were outnumbered, swarmed over by a passion fueled by alcohol and a lustful revenge. The first fires had been set by vandals, miscreant soldiers more interested in a cruel game than in waging war. But the game became more ugly very quickly, a contagious disease spreading among men who knew that Sherman's order would eventually come, that in time he would have given them permission to set the fires anyway. As the night wore on, the torches were thrown by not only drunken soldiers but even the sober, seduced by the raw power of the fires they could create. Those fires were indiscriminate, aimless, and Sherman was disgusted by that, had hoped instead to offer the rebels the message with clarity.

    The order had been given to his chief engineer, Captain Orlando Poe, and Poe's men had been selective, had followed Sherman's instructions to leave nothing behind that the rebels could ever use again, nothing that could help anyone make war. The factories had been the greatest priority, whether munitions and powder plants or the simplest ironworks. The mills and cotton gins had gone as well, along with storage facilities for everything an army used, food and fuel, and any structure that aided transportation. But Sherman had seen this before. Atlanta was no different than Jackson, Mississippi, or any other town on the continent. Even the brick and stone structures had skeletons of wood, and so the slightest breeze pushed the destruction from the intended target to the random storefront, the house that happened to be downwind. He saw it now, a vast sea of red, the harsh glow of a hundred small fires uniting into a raging mass that swept away entire neighborhoods, ash and smoke billowing through every alleyway, the wider avenues bathed with clouds of gray and black, pierced by sharp fingers of red. The smoke rose high, columns of raw heat caught by the morning's breeze, drifting...
About the Author-
  • Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of The Smoke at Dawn, A Chain of Thunder, A Blaze of Glory, The Final Storm, No Less Than Victory, 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.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine How does an author make history interesting? By turning it into a historical novel read by a masterful narrator such as Paul Michael. This fascinating book about the final months of the American Civil War looks deeply into the minds and hearts of enemy generals William Tecumseh Sherman and his Confederate counterpart, Joseph Johnston. While many history books give only dry exposition of the battles, strategies, and events, this one gives the characters personality. They live through conversations and observations created by the author but based on what is known about the men and their characters. This third part of Jeff Shaara's Civil War trilogy adds a great deal to one's understanding of the war that divided the nation. M.S. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
  • The Wall Street Journal

    A Chain of Thunder
    A Blaze of Glory

    "[An] exciting read . . . This novel is meticulously researched and brings a vivid reality to the historical events depicted."--Library Journal

    "Dynamic portrayals [of] Johnston, Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman."
  • Kirkus Reviews
    "Shaara continues to draw powerful novels from the bloody history of the Civil War."
  • Historical Novels Review
    "Shaara's historical accuracy is faultless, and he tells a good story. . . . The voices of these people come across to the reader as poignantly clear as they did 150 years ago."
  • Booklist "Beautifully written . . . Shaara once again elevates history from mere rote fact to explosive and engaging drama."--Bookreporter

    "Shaara's mastery of military tactics, his intimate grasp of history, and his ability to interweave several supporting narratives into a cohesive and digestible whole . . . will appeal to a broad range of historical and military fiction fans."
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The Fateful Lightning
The Fateful Lightning
Civil War in the West Series, Book 4
Jeff Shaara
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