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Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Rising Tide: A Novel of World War II by Jeff Shaara

The Rising Tide: A Novel of World War II is the first book in Jeff Shaara's series about World War II. It is the weakest in many ways. Shaara approaches most of his books with the docudrama format - a little bit of narrative history, a lot bit of historical fiction. His narrative history is quite well written and flows nicely.

The historical fiction in this book is its weak point. The action is very good, but there is not a lot of action - just a few pages in the Africa Campaign and some very solid stuff from the Sicily campaign. The majority of the historical fiction part of the book, among the Allied characters at least, is Shaara's characters putting themselves into place to fight Rommell and setting the scene for the second book. It would have moved more briskly if Shaara would have reverted to the historical narrative form, but it would severely limit the fictional aspects of the book.

Jeff Shaara
On the Axis side, Rommel is the compelling figure of the book. Clearly Shaara builds him up to be the ultimate professional officer of the war - not a Nazi, just a man fighting his country as he has always done. Shaara skirts around the issues that Rommel must have surely considered when those orders come from thugs like the Nazis. Perhaps he just assumed that Rommell chose to mostly ignore the uncomfortable aspects of taking orders from people like the Nazis. Perhaps Rommel was just as afraid of the Communists and just as angry at the Allies as Hitler was - we just don't know from this book. What I did not get from this series was a sense that Rommel was a real "super general". After all, for the layman he is the only battlefield German General with a "name brand" recognition. What I got from this portrayal of Rommel was a sense that he just could two particular British commanders with ease if he had the resources and that he could see that Germany was extending itself too far.

There are plenty of great maps in this series, but especially in this book.

I rate this book 4 stars.

Reviewed on November 16, 2010.

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