“Many people have their own definite images of these iconic figures…If I dare to put words into the mouths of any of the historical figures in my books, I had better feel comfortable that those words (and thoughts and emotions) are authentic…Before I write a word, I dig as deeply as I can to find those voices”
Jeff Shaara (To The Reader)
In his third novel in the World War II trilogy Jeff Shaara once again does not disappoint and found those voices. No Less Than Victory focuses on the war in Europe and those figures (some famous and some not) who fought the battles against the enemy and often their own bureaucracies. Because of the depth of his research, Shaara often exposes readers to details and personalities that otherwise would have been overlooked.
If you asked most people about General Patton, most people think of George C. Scott’s portrayal of the famous warrior. Shaara does not tarnish the warrior image, but does provide some insight into the man, his confidence,his lust for glory, and need for approval and recognition from above. You want him on your side, just maybe not in your meeting or planning session. Patton was known for requiring impeccable uniforms, including ties, for all of his men…even in battle. Maybe you need a big ego to send troops into battle?
Sixty some years after the end of the war we are often reminded of the glory, the victory, but books like No Less Than Victory remind us of the darker side. I was shocked about how the retreating German troops often savaged local villagers even the ones who were German citizens. You get to know soldiers who are facing the enemy’s mortor attacks for the first time;
“The routine had taken over, the men huddling up tightly, pulling their knees under their chins, making themselves small, som praying, some, like Benson, crawling deep into their own minds, hands clamped on ears, staring down into darkness, shouting silently at the enemy, Get it over with. There was another kind of routine as well, the men who could not keep silent, who screamed, muffled terror from scattered foxholes. Some of those were so engulfed by fear that they never heard the sound of their own voices.”
As promised, Shaara provides a good story. Even though it is one we think we know there is still much to learn.