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The Rising Tide by Jeff Shaara
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Jan 28, 10

Read in November, 2006

Jeff Shaara's The Rising Tide is the first of a projected trilogy on World War II. Those familiar with his other works--such as his Civil War novels, Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure, his Revolutionary War and Mexican War works--will recognize the technique here. Shaara picks a handful of characters and uses their experiences to create the forward movement of his works.

In The Rising Tide, the key characters whose views are used to create the narrative include George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, Erwin Rommel ("The Desert Fox"), Albert Kesselring, and a couple American soldiers, Jack Logan and Jesse Adams. The advantage of this is that you see the role of individuals, from different perspectives in a series of military engagements. This provides a certain richness of texture to the novel. On the other hand, there are limits to this. The reader does not get a bird's eye view of the action. All is through the eyes of specific individuals grounded in very specific circumstances. This works well enough, of course, but things can get left out.

The novel begins with Rommel's combat against the English in North Africa and his ability to win against long odds. However, the weight on British and then British and American troops is too much, as his army cannot receive enough gasoline, replacement troops and tanks , and so on to compete effectively. After the allies defeat the German and Italian forces in North Africa, the action of the novel moves to Sicily, where the hard fought campaign is described well. The conclusion of the novel points to the nasty Italian campaign and the early days of organizing the invasion of France.

The reader is left looking forward to the next volume in this series. While the structure of Shaara's novel has lost its novelty, it can still be effective as a story telling device.

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