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To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  6,230 ratings  ·  398 reviews
Jeff Shaara has enthralled readers with his New York Times bestselling novels set during the Civil War and the American Revolution. Now the acclaimed author turns to World War I, bringing to life the sweeping, emotional story of the war that devastated a generation and established America as a world power.
Spring 1916: the horror of a stalemate on Europe’s western front. Fr
Paperback, 636 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Zee Ashworth
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: historical fiction buffs
The disclaimer should read "sucker for historical fiction." I found this book to be packed with historical detail, but not historically overwhelming. This is a book about the men who fought the "war to end all wars" -- from both sides of the trenches. Have you always wanted to know about the Red Baron (and wonder why Snoopy has a fixation)? Have you wondered about Pershing? (probably not... who remembers these days?) The Sopwith Camel? the fly-boys of the Lafayette Escadrille? Here are riveting ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: wwi
To the Last Man was a frustrating read for me, especially the first half of the book. The author fell into the trap of writing WWI historical fiction about well known figures John Pershing, the Red Baron and to a lesser extent about Patton and Von Hindenburg. The book didn't really dispense much information on WWI or in the case of these figures approach the drama of at least a dozen great books on WW1, non-fiction or fiction.

This is a serious book and the tone matches it so it is no amateur ha
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars

In this fantastic book about WWI, we meet Manfred Baron von Richoften the "Red Baron" who single-handedly shot down over eighty planes for Germany. He might be mechanically inept, but oh can he fly! He loves being up in the air. He has a Great Dane that follows him everywhere and they seem very well suited to one another. The British pilots were to name Richoften's squad as “Richoften's Flying Circus” for the colorful ways in which each pilot decorated his plane. Richoften's was painted c
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gripping account of the horrors of World War 1. From Black Jack Pershing who was the US Commander to a doughboy in the trenches and 2 airplane fighter pilots, the story wove facts of actual people in the war with brilliant dialogue. Was sad to finish the book.
One of the top 5 books in 2016 for me-highly recommended if you want to know about how the politics of fighting the war and the tremendous physical and mental pain that the soldiers went through. The afterword about how the their lives play
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Can't rate a book about two aviation heroes less than 4 Stars. Four historic characters form the backbone of the story: Manfred von Richthofen, Raoul Lufbery, John "Black Jack" Pershing and Roscoe Temple (a Marine rifleman). Shaara weaves an excellent story around these figures and you get an understanding of what they must have dealt with. Really liked the flying history and gained new respect for those aviators. Pershing's story was interesting and you will understand why the AEF was so determ ...more
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm sure many Gods and Generals fans will disagree with me, but I truly believe this to be Jeff Shaara's finest novel to date. Although the first two thirds can be more on the educational side with less action, the fact that he spent any time at all on early aviation is extraordinary. As my dad was a pilot, I find the incredible achievements of the Red Baron awe-inspiring, for such primitive planes. The first American combat pilots were required to use machine guns placed on the roof so as not t ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it
One of the things I most appreciate about Jeff Shaara is the organization and alternating point of view that he uses in all of his novels. It allows the reader different perspectives, and allows the author to cover more ground with the ability to "location hop" with ease. When one is writing about war, this is a handy tool to have at one's disposal. When you are as uneven a writer as Mr. Shaara, it is a necessary one.
"To The Last Man" starts off with an engrossing chapter depicting a new English
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Only Jeff Shaara can take a possible info-dump and mold it into a gripping and captivating novel. To the Last Man recounts the experiences of American and German troops in the air, the trenches, and command during The Great War. We intimately follow "Black Jack" Pershing, an American Marine in the trenches, the Red Baron, and American pilot Lufbery to develop a better understanding of the real plights and thoughts of those involved in the War to End All Wars.

I cannot express this enough, I res
Rick Boyer
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My goal in reading this book, was to gain a bit more of a general understanding of WW I. I want to study this war in more detail, because my knowledge and understanding of it is very limited. I like Shaara, and I figured that this would be a good place to start. And it was. Beautifully written in the style that Shaara uses so well: history written like a novel/a novel written like history.

The book doesn't cover the whole war, just the main conflict on the Western Front between Germany and France
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: wwi
I don't know too much about WWI, so this was a pretty decent introduction. However, be aware that this mainly deals with Americans in the war, so you miss a lot of what went on in the first 4 years before the U.S. officially joined the fighting.

There were a few things I didn't like about this book. I found the author's way of writing in short choppy connected phrases to be extremely distracting. All of the main characters had the same kind of idealistic inner voice. It was all a bit overly emoti
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Plods along like a history of WWI. For that, you're better off with Guns of August. ...more

Not a fan of 600-page books in general, and have little interest in Shaara's endless trilogies on the Civil War and World War
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jeff Shaara has done it again, bringing the intensity of war to a immediacy that gives the reader the sense that they are right there: in the trenches, marching to the assaults on German lines or in the air battles over allied or enemy territory. This is achieved by narrowing the cast of characters to a few commanders and a few Marines or Airman whose stories he crafts extremely well.
He also covers the politics of war and the general inability of those who sit in the seats of power to grasp the
Stuart Lutzenhiser
May 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
World War I was a war of "too much". Too many people died for too few reasons from too many countries. Why the author would want to add to this by writing a book trying to cover too much ground is beyond me. He does try to focus on a few people, much like in the Civil War novels. However, instead of just one battle (Gettysburg) or one campaign in the war, he spreads his novel over almost the entire breadth of the war - which leaves the book long and disjointed. The Kindle version that I read als ...more
Feb 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you like historical fiction, Shaara is the man. Pershing, the Red Baron, and a host of other historical figures are depicted. I really enjoyed this one.

"The numbers tell the tale. In four years of the most brutal combat the world has ever seen, nearly ten million men die on the battlefield or in the hospitals nearby. The cost in human life can be translated to the loss of more than five thousand men every day the war was fought. Thus an entire generation of young men is erased from the futu
Aug 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: military
A good book, but not what I was expecting, although I admit I don't know exactly what I was expecting. I loved Jeff Shaara's Civil War books, but I didn't enjoy this as much. It's focused pretty much solely on the American perspective of the World War I, so you've got kind of a limited viewpoint there. Except that he randomly threw in the Red Baron as one of his perspective characters, which is a totally different look, and feels jarring. Also, 2 of his 4 main viewpoint characters are pilots, wh ...more
Brian Eshleman
The Red Baron and General Pershing were both figures that I did not know much about, and this treatment was able to present them in the war a gallantry s gallantry a whole in is so jarring to modern news that is so jarring to modern years a compelling fashion. The "Knights of the air" gallantry is so jarring to modern modern cynicism that it supports the idea that this war marks the end of the 19th century. Very much worth reading. ...more
Roberta Cheadle
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
I listened to the 30 hour audio book of To the Last Man. It was well narrated and the narrator, Paul Michael, had a pleasant voice which is important for such a long listen.

I bought this book because I wanted to learn more about the USA’s involvement in WW1 and it certainly surpassed my expectations in that regard.

The fist half of the book is devoted to the role of aviators in this terrible war and focuses on the establishment of the American escadrille, called the Lafayette Escadrille, compri
Glen Robinson
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What Shaara does well is balance an overview of the big picture of what’s going on in the war with the nuts-and-bolts details that happens to the trench soldier and the biplane pilot. He does that by choosing the characters carefully who are telling the story. In this situation, the story is told by real, historical people. He gives the reader a summary of what happened to each of them after the war at the end of the book. Those characters include John J. Pershing, the general who led American f ...more
Mandy D
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a departure from what I usually read, but as an Army Wife and history buff, I found this to be well written and both educational and easy to read.

Names like Drum, Hood, LeJeune, and many others stand out for their historical impact and their current day namesake Army posts and Marine base.

In many cases I was able to put a story behind the streets and buildings I’ve lived near for 20+ years.

I know that this is not a history book, but I’m quite sure I learned a lot about WWI in re
Brendan Hodge
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shaara has made his name writing well researched novels dealing with America's military history, starting with his prequel and sequels to his father's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Killer Angels. In To The Last Man, Shaara turns his attention to World War One. He has four main characters: American Raoul Lufbery who volunteered to fly planes with the French air service before American came into the war; German pilot Manfred von Richthofen better known as the Red Baron; General John Pershing, who led ...more
Greg Pettit
Feb 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, history
I enjoy historical fiction and I've always been fascinated by the first World War, so I thought this book was tailor-made for me. Unfortunately, it came across as a little too dense and not as engrossing as it should have been.

The author follows the careers of several real-life personalities through the course of the war to describe different aspects of it: Richtofen (the Red Baron) and Lufbery (of the Lafayette Escadrille) to portray the air war; Ludendorf and Pershing provide details of the Ge
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History/War buffs
Shaara takes his father's formula from The Killer Angels (the same formula he's followed throughout his writing career) and tells the story of World War I from the points of view of its major players: The Red Baron, Pershing, the common foot soldier in the trenches, the American pilots who volunteered to fight in the French air force. It's dense, and not everyone will appreciate the minute attention to detail Shaara observes, but this is the book where he seems to have found his own unique voice ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another very poor offering fro Jeff Shaara. This is a poorly written novelized history of World War I. The author is sadly not up to the task of saying anything really important about this horrifying war. As in his World War II books, his ineptitude is most jarring when trying to get in the heads of the German characters--but he's not that much better with the Americans. I certainly hope that Black Jack Pershing was a more sophisticated and interesting character than the one portrayed here. I'm ...more
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in the Kindle format and discovered that I could actually expand the charts laying out the battle positions, something that was heretofore frustrating to me.

This was a book well written and documented. It is about the struggles of the US involvement in the "Great War". It was gritty and captivating with well developed characters and a very strict adherence to historical facts. Jeff Shaara is an author of our times but he has a head and a heart for history. he uses these talents
Jerry Kolwinska
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I always enjoy Shaara's work. This was especially fulfilling as it tags nicely onto the PBS special on WW1 that was shown earlier this year.

The characters that Shaara follows in this novel are well developed and authentic. The Lafayette escadrille was fascinating as I had not read much about the squadron and its cast of characters. The German characters were interesting as well.

The trench war was gruesome, and Shaara's attempt to capture that element of the war is quite successful in my estima
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction, WW I fans
Superb. Longer review later.
Melina Jacqueline
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm finally done reading this book. It took me a whole month to get through this because there were so meny new words to look up and other things to look up as well. I didn't like reading this book at all. I found it really boring how it was written. It only got good at the last few chapters and the beginning I had to force myself to read. It's written about all perspectives of the war. Mostly about the air Force and behind the scenes of all the military meetings. I just hated how it was written ...more
Nate Hendrix
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have enjoyed all of his books and this one was no different. If you enjoy military historical fiction Shaara is your man.
Dan M.
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
To The Last Man is a novel written by Jeff Shaara and published in 2004 by Random House Publishing Incorporated. It is a story of four fighters and their experiences in World War I. This book starts off as a slow read because it is not very interesting and the reader doesn’t “know” the characters yet. As the book progresses, the characters become more relatable because of the adventures that they go on and bravery that they demonstrate. Shaara uses exquisite imagery to make the reader feel like ...more
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Jeff Shaara, a descendant of Italian immigrants, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey ("Shaara" was originally spelled "Sciarra"). He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Criminology. From age 16, Jeff operated a rare coin business, first out of his home, then in a retail store. After moving to Tampa, Jeff became one of the most widely know ...more

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