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The Fateful Lightning

A Novel of the Civil War
Narrated by: Paul Michael
Series: The Civil War in the West, Book 4
Length: 25 hrs and 30 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

Non-member price: $60.93

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

From Jeff Shaara comes the riveting final installment in the Civil War series that began with A Blaze of Glory and continued in A Chain of Thunder and The Smoke at Dawn.

November 1864: As the Civil War rolls into its fourth bloody year, the tide has turned decidedly in favor of the Union. A grateful Abraham Lincoln responds to Ulysses S. Grant’s successes by bringing the general east, promoting Grant to command the entire Union war effort, while William Tecumseh Sherman now directs the Federal forces that occupy all of Tennessee.

In a massive surge southward, Sherman conquers the city of Atlanta, sweeping aside the Confederate army under the inept leadership of General John Bell Hood. Pushing through Northern Georgia, Sherman’s legendary March to the Sea shoves away any Rebel presence, and by Christmas 1864, the city of Savannah falls into the hands of “Uncle Billy”. Now there is but one direction for Sherman to go. In his way stands the last great hope for the Southern cause, General Joseph E. Johnston.

In the concluding novel of his epic Civil War tetralogy, Jeff Shaara tells the dramatic story of the final eight months of battle from multiple perspectives: the commanders in their tents making plans for total victory, as well as the ordinary foot soldiers and cavalrymen who carried out their orders until the last alarm sounded. Through Sherman’s eyes, we gain insight into the mind of the general who vowed to “make Georgia howl” until it surrendered. In Johnston, we see a man agonizing over the limits of his army’s power and accepting the burden of leading the last desperate effort to ensure the survival of the Confederacy. 

The Civil War did not end quietly. It climaxed in a storm of fury that lay waste to everything in its path. The Fateful Lightning brings to life those final brutal, bloody months of fighting with you-are-there immediacy, grounded in the meticulous research that listeners have come to expect from Jeff Shaara. 

Praise for The Fateful Lightning

“Powerful and emotional...highly recommended." (Historical Novels Review)

“Outstanding...Shaara combines his extensive knowledge of military history with his consummate skill as a storyteller.” (Booklist)

“Readers...looking for an absorbing novel will be well rewarded.” (The Clarion-Ledger

“A great accomplishment and a more than fitting conclusion to Shaara’s work on the Civil War." (Bookreporter)

©2015 Jeff Shaara (P)2015 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

Praise for Jeff Shaara's new Civil War series
A Blaze of Glory
"[An] exciting read.... This novel is meticulously researched and brings a vivid reality to the historical events depicted." ( Library Journal)
"Dynamic portrayals [of] Johnston, Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman." ( The Wall Street Journal)
A Chain of Thunder
"Shaara continues to draw powerful novels from the bloody history of the Civil War." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"Shaara's historical accuracy is faultless, and he tells a good story.... The voices of these people come across to the reader as poignantly clear as they did 150 years ago." ( Historical Novels Review)
The Smoke at Dawn
"Beautifully written.... Shaara once again elevates history from mere rote fact to explosive and engaging drama." ( Bookreporter)
"Shaara's mastery of military tactics, his intimate grasp of history, and his ability to interweave several supporting narratives into a cohesive and digestible whole...will appeal to a broad range of historical and military fiction fans." ( Booklist)

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  • Jim In Texas!
  • 07-11-2016

An Excellent End to the Civil War

This is presumably the last novel in Jeff Shaara's Civil War novels. And it is the best of the lot.

The story starts with General Sherman, leaving Atlanta and beginning this march across Georgia and up the east coast.

It ends with the surrender of Confederate General Joe Johnston to Sherman in North Carolina.

The story centers around four individuals involved in this campaign, each becomes a distinct and real individual.

The narration and production values of this audio book are excellent.

Highly recommended.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Liz
  • 03-10-2015

Sherman humanized

because scharra take the time to research his subjects they are no longer bullies or monsters and it is a credit to his writing that Sherman is no longer the scourge that history would have you believe he was.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • T. Stewart
  • 30-10-2015

Excellent!

I am a big fan of Jeff Shaara's Civil War novels, having read his Dad's "The Killer Angels" and his "Gods and Generals" and "The Last Full Measure". I chose to listen to the four books that cover the "western" theater of the war and was very happy with the narration of Paul Michael. It was particularly good that Mr. Michael performed all four books, keeping continuity of the story and making transitions between volumes almost seamless. If you're interested in the Civil War and aren't already familiar with Mr. Shaara's work this is an excellent way to get acquainted.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel N. Hill
  • 10-06-2015

Excellent wrap up of the Civil War!

Takes you thru the end and again gives a good summation of the where, what and how of this time. Good conclusion of the western battles and logic to Sherman's methods to end this conflict.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Robin Mungo K.
  • 30-06-2019

Great Read

Again I was enthralled by the sense of being there! Can't wait for the next

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-05-2019

Enjoyable Read

I’m a fan.

Jeff has a unique talent to present history in an engaging manner. While the Millennials immerse themselves in 3-D combat Jeff has provided the same opportunity to the preceding generation without the vertigo.


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  • Adam
  • 26-10-2018

same but good

similar to others in series, but still good. tough to distinguish between these at some point.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 23-07-2018

Aanother great offering from Jeff Shaara

Despite the fact that this Civil War Series by Mr. Shaara is fictional,the historical content is top notch and even ardent historians will find it informative and well researched. The reader is great too. Great collection.

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  • John N Pier
  • 03-05-2018

Fascinating, unable to put it down.

The insight into the campaign and the personalities of the conflict are illuminating. Great performance.

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  • Evan
  • 29-08-2017

Evan Review

This is last civil war novel that jeff wrote. It is like all the others he wrote the historical events are accurate but added the conversations with the characters in the first person makes it very interesting.