Review

No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War Ii

by Jeff Shaara

World War II has ravaged Europe under the onslaught of Hitler's
forces, but his grip is weakening. Allied troops have begun to
press him back, leading him to undertake desperate measures. Author
Jeff Shaara takes up the final installment of his World War II
trilogy --- begun with THE RISING TIDE and THE STEEL WAVE --- and
brings to a close one of the most harrowing moments the world has
known.

NO LESS THAN VICTORY opens in November 1944, highlighting the
buildup to the start of the Ardennes Offensive, also known as the
Battle of the Bulge. Hitler is now desperate to splinter the Allied
forces so that his army can retake Antwerp. The Allies, under the
command of Eisenhower, turn the tide against Hitler, and his dream
begins to unravel.

Hitler's own leaders have seen the folly of the plan,
particularly Gerd von Rundstedt. The elder Field Marshal, the
oldest of Hitler's commanders and a soldier long before many
fighting under him were born, had devised his own scheme that
Hitler refused. Since the failed assassination, Hitler held little
trust in his men, though he knew he needed them to carry out his
plans.

Failing in Ardennes, some of the inner Nazi circle begin to plot
Germany's postwar future even as Hitler defiantly screams that he
will not hear talk of defeat. He makes it clear that his battle is
to the end, which comes sooner than later. With Russian troops
pressing from the east and with continuing losses on the western
front, Hitler commits suicide. Meanwhile, the Americans sweep into
the German countryside and uncover the most savage secret of
Hitler's machinations: the camps.

The horror of the Holocaust comes to the fore, and Shaara very
deftly walks into this grievous crime with a clinical eye and a
compassionate heart. The result is simply powerful. One does not
need to imagine the view of walking into Ohrdruf in April 1945
because Shaara, through meticulous research and exceptional skill
as a storyteller, puts you in that moment, and you see all of it as
Eddie Benson sees it.

That is the great success of NO LESS THAN VICTORY, much as it
has been for the previous works in this saga. Shaara has taken the
words and memories of those who fought and crafted them not into a
dry historical text, but into a living and actionable event of
intensity and passion. The battle sequences rage, and the reader is
caught up in the explosive panic of war, yet all of this is
tempered by the quieter introspections of the primaries: Eisenhower
and Patton, von Rundstedt and Speer, Benson and Buckley. The
stories of the men behind the men are no more valuable in
Shaara’s telling than those who carry the guns, ride the
bomber planes, or man the tanks.

Ultimately, there is not much to uncover in terms of revelations
or new insights into these events, but that is hardly the point.
Rather, NO LESS THAN VICTORY is the final piece of an exceptionally
crafted puzzle. While the story may not be wholly new, it is
magnificently told in a way that rekindles a love of history.

Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on January 13, 2011

No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War Ii
by Jeff Shaara

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345497937
  • ISBN-13: 9780345497932