Jeff Shaara, New York Times bestselling author of historical and military fiction, will present an author talk and book signing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, in the David Student Union Grand Ballroom at Christopher Newport University. A master storyteller of historical and military fiction, Shaara brings America's vivid past to life in stories that span from the Civil War to World War II. His latest New York Times bestseller, A Chain of Thunder, was released in May 2013. It is the second volume of a new Civil War four-book series. The first, A Blaze of Glory, was published in 2012.
Free tickets for the author talk, question-and-answer session and book signing are available beginning Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the sponsoring libraries of the Virginia Peninsula Literary Consortium, which consists of the public libraries of Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson and York County and the academic libraries of Christopher Newport University, Hampton University and Thomas Nelson Community College. Tickets will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis and limited to two per person while supplies last. Open seating at the event, to be held in the Pope Chapel, is limited, and attendees are advised to arrive early. Ticket holders will be seated first. Any remaining seats will then be open to the general public.
The Shaara event is the seventh free author event sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Literary Consortium, which presented the best-selling authors Amy Tan in 2007, Walter Mosley in 2008, David Baldacci in 2009, Orson Scott Card in 2010, Catherine Coulter in 2011 and Nikki Giovanni in 2012. The Consortium formed in 2006 to encourage the study and enjoyment of books and to foster cooperation among all types of libraries on the Peninsula.
More about Shaara
“It has to begin with a book called The Killer Angels,” says Jeff Shaara, reflecting upon his career writing bestselling novels about the Civil War and America’s other conflicts. His father, Michael Shaara, wrote the classic Civil War novel The Killer Angels, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 but didn’t become a commercial success until the film Gettysburg, based upon the book, was released in 1993. Michael Shaara died in 1988, and after the success of the film, Jeff was persuaded to carry on his father’s work and write a prequel (Gods and Generals, 1996) and a sequel (The Last Full Measure, 1998). Both were big bestsellers, and Gods and Generals won the American Library Association’s William Young Boyd Award, no small triumph for a young man with no previous experience as a writer.
Shaara published one other Civil War novel, Gone for Soldiers, which followed many of his characters back to their experiences in the Mexican-American War of the 1840s. He then left the era behind for two novels set during the American Revolution, Rise to Rebellion and The Glorious Cause; a World War I novel, To the Last Man; one nonfiction book, Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields; and a number of novels about World War II, The Rising Tide, The Steel Wave, No Less Than Victory, and The Final Storm.
His latest series began with the 2012 release of A Blaze of Glory, the first volume of a new Civil War four-book series. Covering the Battle of Shiloh, the book made its debut at #7 on the New York Times Bestseller List. The second volume, A Chain of Thunder, was released May 2013 and covers the campaign and siege of Vicksburg.
Most historical novels use fictitious characters, but Shaara takes you to a real event with the real characters who made that history. “My first job is to get into the heads of these characters so I’m comfortable putting words in their mouths,” he has said. He typically reads 50 to 70 books to write each novel, and any letters or diaries he can find. His reward: “I love to hear that wonderful little phrase, ‘I didn’t know that.”‘
Shaara, a descendant of Italian immigrants, was born in 1952 in New Brunswick, N.J., grew up in Tallahassee, Fla., and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in criminology. He started a rare-coin business when he was 16 years old, and eventually became one of the most widely known coin and precious-metal dealers in Florida, an occupation he gave up when he took on his father’s mantle as a writer. He currently lives in Sarasota. He is a popular speaker at lecture series, universities and MFA programs, book festivals, and Civil War and other historical organizations all over the country.
The Virginia Peninsula Literary Consortium brings together the public libraries of Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson and York County and the academic libraries of Christopher Newport University, Hampton University and Thomas Nelson Community College, collectively serving all residents of the Virginia Peninsula. Programs presented by the Consortium are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit www.thevplc.org. To keep up-to-date on Consortium author events, sign up for the emailed newsletter or “like” the Consortium’s Facebook page.