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A Chain of Thunder: A Novel of the Siege of Vicksburg | [Jeff Shaara]

A Chain of Thunder: A Novel of the Siege of Vicksburg

Continuing the trilogy that began with A Blaze of Glory, New York Times best-selling author Jeff Shaara returns to chronicle another decisive chapter in America’s long and bloody Civil War. In A Chain of Thunder, the action shifts to the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. There, in the vaunted "Gibraltar of the Confederacy", a siege for the ages will cement the reputation of one Union general - and all but seal the fate of the rebel cause.
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Publisher's Summary

Continuing the trilogy that began with A Blaze of Glory, New York Times best-selling author Jeff Shaara returns to chronicle another decisive chapter in America’s long and bloody Civil War. In A Chain of Thunder, the action shifts to the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. There, in the vaunted "Gibraltar of the Confederacy", a siege for the ages will cement the reputation of one Union general - and all but seal the fate of the rebel cause.

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.

©2013 Jeff Shaara (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Powerful... Though the story of the Civil War has been told many times, this is the rare version that conveys what it must have felt like." (Chicago Sun-Times on Gods and Generals)

"Compelling...a work of vivid drama and skill." (The Dallas Morning News on Gods and Generals)

"Dynamic portrayals [of] Johnston, Grant, and William Tecumseh Sherman." (The Wall Street Journal on A Blaze of Glory)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (69 )
5 star
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4.5 (63 )
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4.4 (64 )
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Performance
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  •  
    C. Ubik Damascus, MD USA 06-23-13
    C. Ubik Damascus, MD USA 06-23-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    19
    5
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    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Albany, OR, United States 06-14-14
    Amazon Customer Albany, OR, United States 06-14-14 Member Since 2009

    JB

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    21
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    "No Maps"

    It would be nice if maps were somehow vlsiable to the listener. I probably will not live that long.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dane Ilertsen Fullerton, CA United States 04-03-14
    Dane Ilertsen Fullerton, CA United States 04-03-14 Member Since 2013

    Christian, Husband, Father and Humble Lifelong Learner.

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Why the Cut and Paste?"
    Would you try another book from Jeff Shaara and/or Paul Michael?

    Shaara, yes.
    Michael, no.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Chain of Thunder?

    The perspective that Shaara gives from multiple points of view.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Paul Michael?

    Anybody Else


    Was A Chain of Thunder worth the listening time?

    Barely.


    Any additional comments?

    The reader "cuts and pastes" portions of the text randomly and often. At least once per chapter, he will insert passages that were obviously made at a different reading. Then switch back to the original voice.
    Very distracting. That made it very difficult to become immersed in the story.

    Please have this book re-read for the next person.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Decaturville, TN, United States 10-30-13
    Chris Decaturville, TN, United States 10-30-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    5
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    Performance
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    "Great book, very distracting production."
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Chain of Thunder to be better than the print version?

    No


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Chain of Thunder?

    Negatively, I will remember the constant uneven recording quality, the breaks into and out of the flow, and how there seemed to be un-natural pauses in the production.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Paul Michael?

    I don't know who specifically but he did ok, not outstanding, just ok.


    Who was the most memorable character of A Chain of Thunder and why?

    Sherman, because I knew very little about him prior to this book. I have a desire to get to know him better.


    Any additional comments?

    I am a big Shaara fan and always enjoy his books and did this one. I became so depressed and down by the time it was over, I felt the surrender along with the army and citizens. The book did it;'s job to convey the feelings and actions. My main complaint would be in the production value. The pauses, the terrible inserts that were obviously either recorded later or on different equipment, they were very distracting. I hate that after investing 22 hours to listen, my main thing I remember is how I hope I never hear another book like that production wide. Please do better!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen United States 10-10-13
    Stephen United States 10-10-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Horror of Siege Warfare Made Real"

    Though I have read and listened to numerous books on the Civil War, I have seemingly ignored much of the West battles. Jeff Shaara writes an excellent presentation of the battles leading up to and around Vicksburg.

    This book focuses on a number of real people and a few fictional ones. The author interweaves an excellent story line focusing on the human events, thoughts and feelings of various officers and men as well as some civilians. This novel (and the one about Shiloh) purposefully goes light on the details of the military regiments and units. So don't expect a detailed description of the battles as found in Stephen Sears books.

    The book is well written and keeps the listener engrossed the whole way. I found myself rooting for the fictional character here even though I am confident he will survive.

    Paul Michael is a narrator well known to me. Any time I see his name listed as the narrator I smile because I know how well he does. And Paul does his usual excellent performance here.

    If you want detailed descriptions of the Battles of Vicksburg, this is the wrong book for you. If you prefer getting to know what it may have been like to be a soldier and civilian during this time, then you will enjoy this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kay broken arrow, OK, United States 07-13-13
    Kay broken arrow, OK, United States 07-13-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    "Another great Shaara book"
    Would you listen to A Chain of Thunder again? Why?

    Yes. This is a very good story, well written and well read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked that Shaara brought not only Grant, Sherman & Pemberton (the generals) to life but he also told the story from the townspeople and the soldier's point of view.


    Which character – as performed by Paul Michael – was your favorite?

    Bowen - the Union soldier.


    Who was the most memorable character of A Chain of Thunder and why?

    They were all great. From the Generals to the townspeople.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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