Cover Image: The Eagle's Claw

The Eagle's Claw

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Member Reviews

Shaara is one of my favorite authors, and so I was delighted when I received an invitation to read and review. My thanks go to Net Galley and Random House Ballantine; this book is for sale now. 

Like everyone else, I bring my own experiences and biases to this novel, and this one is a potential hot potato. I am married to a Japanese citizen, and my in-laws still reside in Japan. The implicit, and at times overt racism that many authors bring to this topic—the Pacific theater of World War II, between the U.S. and Japan—ruins my mood for days, and consequently, I won’t even go near most nonfiction or historical fiction that focuses on this aspect of American history. When Shaara published To Wake the Giant, I signed on to read and review with great trepidation; I was afraid that I would not only hate the book, but emerge from it unhappy enough to abandon the author entirely. Imagine my delight when I found the opposite was true. 

Shaara’s signature format is to portray the events that unfold through the eyes of key participants, delivering staggered narratives that include admirals and pilots on both sides as well as a code breaker on the American side. Shaara sticks to the truth, and by now I know this, so I’m not distracted by the need to fact check information that is new to me. His research and attention to detail is matchless, and his capacity to develop characters on the page makes me feel I would know these men if I ran into them on the street. My review copy, sadly, did not have the maps added, merely noting on what pages they would later be added; however, I once more defer to this author’s track record. I would bet my last dollar that the maps are also excellent. 

One aspect that is usually a deal breaker for me is the frequent use of the period’s predominant racist slur, when Americans mention the Japanese. There are three syllables in this word, and they should be used. For those that plead that the one syllable word is authentic to the time and place, I would invite them to imagine a similar tale featuring a hypothetical African enemy during the same time period. What would be the expected, authentic term by which Caucasian Americans would refer to such enemy combatants, and to the government from which they hail? For the obtuse, I’ll tell you, it would be the N word. So would you just go ahead and drop it in there for the sake of accuracy, or would you use greater sensitivity and explain the alteration in an author’s note? You’d do the latter. Of course you would. In fact, likely it would be the only way your novel would see the light of day, and rightly so. 

But here as well, Shaara gets a pass from this reviewer despite his use of the term I abhor, and the reason is his candor, addressing the racism of the time period right up front. Though you might think it obvious, I have never seen a successful author of World War II historical fiction do this, and he is absolutely clear about it. In fact, I began highlighting the introduction—don’t skip it! And when it was done, I found I had highlighted nearly all of it. 

Whether you are drawn to this book from a love of history and the desire to learn a few things painlessly, or for the escapist entertainment that great novels provide, you can’t go wrong here. This is a damn fine book. I highly recommend it to everyone.
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Jeff Shaara is a historical fiction master. It's in his blood, really. I loved the Civil War Trilogy and therefore requested his newest release. This one has the same caliber of writing which can somehow make even the most boring historical event intriguing and captivating. Jeff Shaara breathes life into history and that is truly a unique talent. This was a great book, but I think I'd read him write about anything at this point. If you're a fan of the Shaara's historical fiction books, this one will not disappoint.
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The movies and documentary films don't do the battle of Midway justice. Shaara's excellent story line, well drawn characters and readable history is another win for the author.
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This book is similar to Jeff Shaara's other books as it follows his way of telling stories of the world's history. This is the story of the Battle of Midway through the eyes of both American and Japanese historical figures. The book is somewhat enjoyable, but not as gripping as some of his other works.
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I greatly enjoyed this book.  It gave a different view of Battle of Midway.   Book was action packed and a fun read.
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I've never read Jeff Shaara before. My friend Kevin has been recommending him for years, and I even bought one of his Civil War titles, but have not gotten to it yet. A big reason I didn't get to it is because I've been reading NetGalley ARCs over the past few years. As I was demonstrating NetGalley to Kevin a few weeks ago, The Eagle's Claw came up, which grabbed his attention. I put in a request for it and was approved -- thanks, NetGalley and Mr. Shaara's publisher!

A synopsis of The Eagle's Claw is straightforward -- an historically accurate re-telling of the pivotal WWII Battle of Midway, seen through the eyes of participants on both sides, all real-life figures. The historical emphasis is on the psychology of the Japanese invasion plan, in reaction to the symbolic impact of the Doolittle raid on the Japanese homeland, and the decisive work of U.S. Navy cryptologists in breaking the Japanese code, thus knowing their movements in advance.

But what makes this new re-telling interesting is the literary point of view -- taking real-life characters, from well-known admirals down to unknown pilots and marines, and presenting them as literary characters, with internal monologue, inter-personal dialogue, emotion and personality, action and reaction. Shaara has done an especially good job with the Japanese characters despite significant cultural differences.

The pace is brisk, the book is not overlong like historical fiction can sometimes be, and the action is never gratuitous, with strategy getting more attention than tactics, creating a nice balance between the two. The last few chapters are among my favorites, returning to some of the key characters in the aftermath of the battle to examine the impact on their psyche.

My only quibble is that some key moments occur too quickly. Trying to explain this without spoilers, it's not clear how the dive bombers went from being so vulnerable to being so deadly, and it's not clear whether lead cryptologist Joe Rochefort was a technical genius or just lucky to be so intuitively correct. I'm particularly vexed at how Yamamoto could plan the invasion of Midway from what he considers a realistic mindset rather than the fantasy that the Japanese were invincible, and yet make so many blunders based on underestimating the Americans and overestimating his own plan.

The story of Midway has not gone previously untold. John Ford filmed some of it live in 1942 and created an 18 minute documentary -- watch it on YouTube and get visual images to put alongside Shaara's literary images, even including one of the characters in the book, fighter pilot Jimmy Thatch. In fat, in a nice touch, Shaara gives Ford a couple of cameos in this book -- his complete WWII story is in the excellent book Five Came Back, about five big time Hollywood directors who supported the war effort via filmmaking (also a good Netflix series).

The 1970's movie is nonsense, but the 2019 version has been lauded as a faithful history. But Shaara excels by getting inside the heads of participants, making this more than a faithful recreation of events but also a credible depiction of what it was like to be part of it all. He has the benefit of the long form of literary convention compared to cinematic language (although the movie has the benefit of visual spectacle and special effects).

My friend Kevin has read many of Shaara's books, but not this one, as it hasn't been released yet. It is currently the only one I've read, although I will be reading more, having already acquired the Pearl Harbor story that precedes this one. So after all of Kevin's recommendations, I can now say to him: read this one, you're gonna like it.
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Reading a Jeff Shaara book is like putting on your old sweater and slippers and having your dog on your lap as you read.  In other words, I really like Jeff Shaara's work and will read any of his books at the drop of a hat.

Since I'm a little obsessed about Midway (especially the change of ordinance after the first bombing run), "The Eagle's Claw" is a perfect book to me.  Great dialogue and interesting characters ; I highly recommend this book.
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If WWII is your choice of reading, this book will be right down your alley. So well done. Mr. Shaara is a master of depicting war battles, he is quite the author and his research is meticulous. There is a lot to take in and a lot of characters to keep track of in this one, but it is all worth it. He makes you feel as if you are on the plane and watching the battles. We go back and forth between what the USA is doing and what Japan is thinking the USA is doing. 
I rate this one up there with The Indianapolis, it is not a light read and you need to pay attention to get the full effect, but so well told. Thank you for bringing the Battle of Midway to the forefront. My son is a Marine and we owe our freedom to these heroes. 
I want to thank Random House Publishing Group along with NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read an ARC. Comes in with 5 stars.
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I received a free digital copy of the book through Net Galley. My thanks to the Net Galley, the author and publisher.

“The Eagle’s Claw” is an entertaining and quick reading novel of the epic World War 2 Battle of Midway in the Pacific between the US and Japanese navies. I have read a number of histories of that decisive battle, and while this book does not replace a historian’s account , and does not pretend to, it does give a casual reader a chance to be present at one of history’s important moments.
With his usual fluent style, Mr. Shaara uses real and fictional characters to afford the reader insight into the minds of those who command and those at the tip of the spear. The “ big picture” becomes a novel and the novel is easily accessible and enjoyable. 
“ The Eagle’s Claw “ is one of Sahara’s better historical novels. I enjoyed it and recommend it. It stands by itself on its own merits and might have the effect of leading a casual reader into deeper reading and deeper appreciation of of the sacrifice and commitment of warriors on both sides.
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I am grateful to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this ARC of The Eagle’s Claw: A Novel of the Battle of Midway by Jeff Shaara in exchange for a nonbiased review. While billed as a novel, this book is told from the viewpoint of real historical figures who took part in the planning or events of the Battle of Midway. Shaara’s technique is to use research on these various figures to get the facts straight, but flesh out the story by imaging their thoughts and conversations to give the reader the feel of actually being there. The story begins with Doolittle’s Raid and the bombing of Tokyo which although not part of the Midway battle, influenced the actions of both the Japanese and the Americans in leading up to the battle. From the Japanese side the planning is told through the person of Admiral Yamamoto, while the tactical side is told mostly through Admiral Nagumo. Both key figures in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were determined to set a trap by attacking the island of Midway to draw out the American fleet and destroy our carriers. The planning and strategy from the American side is told through Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander in chief in the Pacific, and Joseph Rochefort in the Naval Intelligence HYPO section. This was a battle largely won or lost through intelligence gathering and analysis, and it was Rocheford’s unit who broke the Japanese code and were able to predict the movements of the Japanese fleet. This allowed the American Navy to turn the tables and launch a surprise attack on the Japanese instead. The action is told through the eyes of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Douglas Ackroyd on Midway itself and Lt. Perk Baker a Navy fighter pilot on the Yorktown. Others featured were Captain Elliott Buckmaster, captain of the Yorktown, and admirals Frank Jack Fletcher and Raymond Spruance. I enjoyed this book very much and found that it had a slightly different view on the strategy from both the Japanese as well as the American side than I had seen before. I now have a much better understanding of the background leading up to the battle. I did find the descriptions of the battle itself to be somewhat lacking. While I enjoyed the view from the cockpit of a fighter, I really missed not including anything from the view of the all-important dive bombers, the group that really won the battle. I think providing a view from one of the Dauntless dive bomber pilots would have made it possible to show a more complete view at the battle. Without it, the description seemed a bit rushed and lacking in depth. Overall, I enjoyed this book and picked up a lot of new perspective. I would recommend it to anyone wanting a new view of this battle that was a turning point in the war in the Pacific.
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Pure, unadulterated historical fiction in its finest tradition.

Again, Shaara becomes a master of his craft as he paints an accurate, realistic picture of America's reaction to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. through accurate, studies of military and political personalities on both sides.
 
While the battle of Midway is the book's primary storyline, the reader gets insightful glimpses of behind-the-scenes activities in both Tokyo and Washington during those war-torn days.

Shaara has a unbelievable gift of being able to transport his readers adroitly into the Past.. THE EAGLE'S CLAW is simply another jewel in this author's well-deserved jewel-studded crown of historical fiction.,
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This is the second book of a duology series from the masterful historical fiction writer Jeff Shaara.  I honestly did not know much about the Battle of Midway before reading this book, but it was an excellent follow-up to his book about Pearl Harbor, To Wake the Giant.  The book tells the story from the perspective of some of the important people involved in this historical conflict.  The story-telling was wonderfully crafted and pulled me into this time period.  This book covers the time period from the Doolittle Raid through the aftermath of the Battle of Midway.  Shaara does a great job of telling an unbiased story from both the American side and the Japanese side.  I did not realize how fast I was going through this story until I realized that the battle was over.  It was that engrossing.  Shaara does a great job of bringing the people and historical context to life.  At the end of the book, I was truly sad to know that these people's stories were finished.  I know that this has been planned as a two book set, but I would love to read more about the stories from the Pacific, maybe a story about the atomic bombings and aftermath.  A splendid read.
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This book is a well done historical fiction based on the events leading up to, during and immediately after the Battle of Midway. The author is well know for his novels on the Civil War, World War I and World War II. This one does not disappoint. It does not go into the detail that nonfiction books on the subject does as the author focuses on several individuals so some of the actual action gets a once over lightly treatment. This is a good book for fans of the author and those who like war related historical ficition.

I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook page.
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I really enjoyed this one!  I learned so many things about the war and what happened.  It was great to read such a well thought out and researched book!
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Another out-of-the-park homerun for Shaara! The ultimate writer of readable war histories, the author adds another great book to his resume. 
This time it's the WWII Battle of Midway. Told through the voices of people like the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, to an American fighter pilot, from the American code-breakers to a salty Sergeant on Midway, Shaara uses a great cast of characters. Each one adds a piece to the whole, resulting in an epic story. 
The action is fast-moving, non-stop, exciting, and compelling. I could not put this book down (as it seems with all of the author's books). It goes by way too quick.
I have now read books by the author on the Mexican War, the Civil War, WW2, and the Korean War. All were first-rate reads. I'm hoping that he lends his talents soon to the Vietnam War. There's a subject that he could really tell through various viewpoints. Fingers crossed!
Excellent, excellent book!
Thanks to the author and NetGalley for an advance reading copy of this great book!
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I received a free advanced ebook of The Eagle's Claw from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Jeff Shaara's latest novel is a fast paced take on the Battle of Midway. Still reeling after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the uncertainty of the Battle of Coral Sea, American forces appear weak and unprepared. But the American forces have a secret weapon - they have a crack cryptoanalysis team stationed at Pearl Harbor. This team has made astonishing gains on cracking Japanese codes that provide a hint of what the Japanese have planned for future naval engagements. Even with some advance knowledge of the enemy's movements, it is a risk to engage them with the limited American aircraft carriers and their less nimble aircraft.

Shaara's books have always been the result of extraordinary research and this one is no exception. He manages to get into the heads of military leaders, both American and Japanese, to provide readers with a tale that reads like a contemporaneous account of the battle. Of course readers already know the significance of the Battle of Midway but this version is seat-of-your-pants exciting. Shaara also presents the actions of some less than famous participants. In this particular novel, these people do not have as detailed a depiction as comparable characters in some other of Shaara's works. Readers see less of their backgrounds and therefore less of the "golly gee" nature of people far from home for the first time. Shaara does, however, present military leaders like Nimitz as focused, daring, and dedicated.

Neither side has absolute certainty of the location and size of the enemy's forces and their intent. For the Americans, the outcome of the Battle of Midway represents an element of good fortune and serves as a turning point in World War II.
#NetGalley #TheEagle'sClaw
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Jeff Shaara's The Eagle's Claw, proves once again that he is a master at making events that took place almost 80 years ago feel as if they are taking place in the moments you are reading them today.

What makes this book so very special is that it provides the back story of how the skill and intuitiveness of the Navy codebreakers, led by the brilliant Joseph Rochefort, and the skill and bravery of Naval aviators and sailors and those who led them, achieved a victory that otherwise could have never been achieved. Very simply, the Japanese Navy, in terms of weaponry and readiness, would and should have won the battle of Midway but the knowledge made available by Naval intelligence turned the tables and gave our Navy an enormous advantage, an advantage they fully utilized.

What makes the battle of Midway so important? As the author makes clear, that battle came at a time when Japan had experienced virtually nothing but success in its efforts to discourage and defeat American and British forces in the Pacific. After Pearl Harbor, Japan continued to dominate and destroy Allied forces and their momentum was both discouraging and frightening. To a very real degree, the battle of Midway showed that the Japanese could be damaged and defeated and that they could sustain losses that turned around what had appeared to be unstoppable initiative and momentum.

The Eagle's Claw introduces us to the fliers, ships' crews, and Naval brass, and how they planned and executed those plans to achieve success. Can't wait to read the next Chapter of Jeff Shaara's saga!
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Once again Jeff Shaara does what he does best.....write a stunning historical narrative, this one of the incredible Battle of Midway. I love how his manuscript is so concise without being dry and doesn't lose you as some archival fiction is liable to do. His characters are well researched, with all the human imperfections we all possess and the story draws you in like you are actually there.

This story made me proud of our military and this history making battle they fought against all odds. All are heroes in my book and testify to the strength, the fortitude and the courage that has endured in our armed services to this day.

Highly recommended!
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The Eagle's Claw is a gripping historical tale, completely enveloping the reader by incorporating powerful imagery, settings, and characters.  Author Jeff Shaara has again excelled in penning a forceful, uplifting, and can't put it down true story of heroes of the Battle of Midway, one of the most famous and decisive naval battles in history.  Introductory chapters set the stage by depicting the planning and preparation for battle.  CINCPAC, the diplomatic and decisive Admiral Chester Nimitz, is ably assisted by intelligence officer Commander Joe Rochefort and Admirals Fletcher, Halsey, and Spruance, among others.  On the Japanese side, Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chuichi Nagumo, and their respective staff are portrayed. 

The Japanese hoped to lure the American fleet into a battle during which their aircraft carriers could inflict a decisive blow, thus leaving them in control of the strategic Midway Islands.  However, much of the American fleet proved far more resilient than the Japanese had anticipated.  The Eagle's Claw depicts the overconfidence that went into the Japanese planning for the attack. Admiral Yamamoto expressed concerns for the growing presence of the “victory disease” influencing the thinking of Japanese naval officers.  At the same time, the U.S. Navy, although outmatched by the Japanese in certain respects, had the key advantages of knowing beforehand some of the Japanese plans and of surprise.

Shaara, through meticulous research including diaries, interviews, and archives,  both educates and entertains us with a variety of firsthand character viewpoints, from admirals to gunnery sergeants to pilots.  The reader will come to understand exactly how and why this battle was so pivotal. Luck did play a part, but the outcome primarily rested with the men who made the various decisions.  Among the most fascinating characters was Commander Joe Rochefort, the far from spit and polish intelligence officer.    

Enjoying history, I have read a number of books regarding the war, along with hearing stories from family members who served.   I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Thank you Netgalley and Ballantine Books for the eARC.
This is the follow-up to 'Wake The Giant' and what a great read it is!  It's about the Battle of Midway, the WWII Pacific Campaign between Japan and the U.S.
We learn about the strategy and mindset of both sides; it's so gripping and at times intensely poignant.  The men's fear and their will to do their duty is well described and harrowing, my heart ached for these young men.
Jeff Shaara is a great writer, one of the best and this book, like his others, hooks you from beginning to end.  I found it eye-opening and at times felt quite emotional.  
Highly recommended, 5+++ stars!
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