Review of The Rising Tide by Jeff Shaara
Overview from www.bn.com (shortened for length): As Hitler conquers Poland, Norway, France, and most of Western Europe, England struggles to hold the line. When Germany’s ally Japan launches a stunning attack on Pearl Harbor, America is drawn into the war, fighting to hold back the Japanese conquest of the Pacific, while standing side-by-side with their British ally, the last hope for turning the tide of the war.
Through unforgettable battle scenes in the unforgiving deserts of North Africa and the rugged countryside of Sicily, Shaara tells this story through the voices of this conflict’s most heroic figures, some familiar, some unknown. As British and American forces strike into the “soft underbelly” of Hitler’s Fortress Europa, the new weapons of war come clearly into focus. In North Africa, tank battles unfold in a tapestry of dust and fire unlike any the world has ever seen. In Sicily, the Allies attack their enemy with a barely tested weapon: the paratrooper. As battles rage along the coasts of the Mediterranean, the momentum of the war begins to shift, setting the stage for the massive invasion of France, at a seaside resort called Normandy.
The Rising Tide is the first in trilogy of novels about World War II that begins after America joins the war on the Allied side. This is the second novel about period that I have read in two weeks but it could not be more different from last weeks’ book.
A Mortal Terror focused a little more on solving the mystery of who “the red heart killer” was than in the war itself which merely served as backdrop. I did get a glimpse though of the war and an interesting one at that. I liked the way the author contrasted the idea of a soldier who kills for country with a murder who kills people as part of a game.
The Rising Tide however has only soldiers who kill and fight though that doesn’t make it any less interesting. Like the previous book though, it also illuminates the character of those involved, including some on the Nazi side.
For me this part was perhaps the most interesting. The character of Erwin Rommel was previously unknown to me. I thought that the term “the desert fox” sounded vaguely familiar though I never would have guessed that it described a Nazi. And for all his ability to see beyond Hitler and the Nazi party, Rommel seems to close his eyes to the evil of the party. The Nazi’s have helped him advance his ideas and his book and even himself. That’s all that matters to him. That and his wife.
The hard part, besides the length of the book, was understanding the military jargon. I didn’t know about the different officer rankings. I don’t understand always who is above whom unless the characters reveal it in their speech. I thought a general was a general but it turns out that there is a hierarchy within the ranking of general even. Yes, I know, I am an idiot when it comes to the military but that is part of the reason I wanted to read this book—to learn something.
The book I am working on now takes place during the same era but most of my characters are not soldiers, most. I do have two who are soldiers and one of them is my primary characters love interest so I thought it would be a good idea to know what he would be facing as a soldier.
The plot tells the whole story of certain offensives of the war, first in Africa and then in Sicily. We see the whole story but each chapter is told through different eyes. This allows us to see what the Germans are thinking at the same time as we see Eisenhower’s point-of-view about the same event. Or Eisenhower’s versus that of an infantry man who becomes a German POW.
And the best part is: these are real people. The author tells us all about them in both the forwards and afterwards. They once existed and maybe left a diary that Jeff Shaara read. Then he made him and his story real for his readers. I love that.
I think I am going to try to move out of this time period for my next review just for variety sake but I am looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy sometime in the future. This book was good even if it was different from what I usually read.
Contains: war violence, language