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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

No Maps

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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!!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great account of what happened in Vicksburg through the eyes of characters who lived through it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Debra Brown
  • Hopewell Junction, NY United States
  • 07-20-18

Great book -- poor production quality

Loved the book and the performer. The production quality was probably the worst I've had from Audible. It distracted me at the beginning but I was able to ignore it by the end of the book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Jeff Shaara’s Best

I have enjoyed a number of JS’s novels, but this one stands out. There is greater depth of characters. This takes a more direct approach to the southern mindset regarding slavery. He clearly and emotionally tells the story of civilians suffering through the Vicksburg seige.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

Hard to stop listening. Very well written. Battles are very well detailed in words and make it easy to picture in your mind.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Narrator!

Paul Michael is amazing and added a lot to the story. Great all around! Check it out!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic story

I was captivated and taken back to 1863! It was as if I was the "fly on the wall" and able to listen to history being made!