“Mr. Shaara’s main interest is in the people involved in the battle and the effect it has on their lives. His cast of characters includes the general officers commanding, a common soldier, a female resident of Vicksburg, and a former journalist – now government employee – sent to check on rumors of Grant’s drinking. He crafts a story from multiple view points which is broad enough in scope to attract and hold the attention of the casual, curious reader who knows little about the Civil War while at the same time presenting a story robust enough to hold the interest of readers who are Civil War buffs.” – Karen, Circulation
A Chain of Thunder is the second in a series of four standalone books on battles in the Western Theater written for the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War by Jeff Shaara, a three-time W. Y. Boyd Award winner for excellence in military historical fiction. The Vicksburg campaign ran through the spring and summer of 1863 as Union general Ulysses S. Grant sought the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last major Confederate fortress on the Mississippi River. A siege was not Grant’s first choice but became necessary as various other stratagems, including digging a ditch to change the course of the river, went awry. Following weeks of the city’s garrison and civilians living on starvation rations in holes dug in the bluffs due to constant shelling of the town by Union gunboats, Confederate General John Pemberton surrendered the city on July 4, 1863, just one day after the massive battle of Gettysburg back East in Pennsylvania. Being further from the national capital in Washington, D.C., the union victory at Vicksburg has always been overshadowed by Gettysburg even though it could be argued that the fall of Vicksburg had a greater effect on the outcome of the war.