No Less Than Victory

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2010-06-01
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
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No Less Than Victory is the crowning achievement in master storyteller Jeff Shaara's soaring World War II trilogy, revealing the European war's unforgettable and harrowing final act. After the success of the Normandy invasion, the Allied commanders are buoyantly confident that the war in Europe will be over in a matter of weeks, that Hitler and his battered army have no other option than surrender. But despite the advice of his best military minds, Hitler will hear no talk of defeat. In mid-December 1944, the Germans launch a desperate and ruthless counteroffensive in the Ardennes forest, utterly surprising the unprepared Americans who stand in their way. Through the frigid snows of the mountainous terrain, German tanks and infantry struggle to realize Hitler's goal: divide the Allied armies and capture the vital port at Antwerp. The attack succeeds in opening up a wide gap in the American lines, and for days chaos reigns in the Allied command. Thus begins the Battle of the Bulge, the last gasp by Hitler's forces that becomes a horrific slugging match, some of the most brutal fighting of the war. As American commanders respond to the stunning challenge, the German spear is finally blunted. Though some in the Nazi inner circle continue the fight to secure Germany's postwar future, the Führer makes it clear that he is fighting to the end. He will spare nothing-- not even German lives-- to preserve his twisted vision of a "Thousand Year Reich." But in May 1945, the German army collapses, and with Russian troops closing in, Hitler commits suicide. As the Americans sweep through the German countryside's crimes, the concentration camps, and young GIs find themselves absorbing firsthand the horrors of the Holocaust. Presenting his riveting account through the eyes of Eisenhower and Patton and the young GIs who struggle face-to-face with their enemy, and through the eyes of Germany' old soldier, Gerd von Rundstedt, and Hitler's golden boy, Albert Speer, Jeff Shaara carries the reader on a journey that defines the spirit of the soldier and the horror of a madman's dreams. No Less Than Victory further solidifies Shaara's reputation as this era's most accomplished author of historical military fiction.

Author Biography

Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of The Steel Wave, The Rising Tide, To the Last Man, The Glorious Cause, Rise to Rebellion, and Gone for Soldiers, as well as Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure–two novels that complete the Civil War trilogy that began with his father’s Pulitzer Prize—winning classic The Killer Angels. Shaara was born into a family of Italian immigrants in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University. He lives in Sarasota.

From the Hardcover edition.



Bassingbourn Airfield, Near Cambridge, England November 14, 1944

He was already cold, ice in both legs, that same annoying knot freezing in his stomach. The plane shimmied sideways, and he rocked with it, felt the nose go up, could see the ground falling away, the B-17 climbing higher, steeper. Just in front was another plane, and he could see the tail gunner, moving into position, facing him. They were barely three hundred feet above the ground when the plane in front began to bank to the left, and his plane followed, mimicking the turn. Out to the side, the predawn light was broken by faint reflections of the big bombers just behind and to the right, doing the same maneuver. There were sparks from some of the big engines, unnerving, but the mechanics had done their job, and once full daylight came, the sparks would fade away.

They continued to climb, as steeply as the B-17 would go without stalling, every pilot knowing the feeling, that sudden bucking of the nose when the plane had begun to stop flying. But the bombardier could do nothing but ride. During takeoff, he was only a passenger, the pilot in the cockpit above him doing his job. He leaned as the plane banked into a sharper angle, knew they were circling, still close to the plane in front, more moving up with them. Some were already above, the first to take off, but they had disappeared into thick cloud cover, his own now reaching the dense ceiling, the plane in front of him barely visible. Wetness began to smear the Plexiglas cone in front of him, heavy mist from the clouds. In training, he had been told that the bombardier had the best seat in the plane, as far forward as you could sit, right in the nose, a clear view in every direction but behind. Even the pilot couldn’t see downward, had to rely on the planes flying in formation beneath him to keep their distance. But in the dense cloud cover, there was nothing to see, streams of rain still flowing across the Plexiglas, and now, blindness, the clouds thicker still, no sign of the plane in front of him at all.

Behind him to the left sat the navigator, silent as well, staring into his instruments. The blindness in front of them was annoying, then agonizing, the plane still shimmying, small bounces in the rough air, the pilot using his skills to keep his plane at precisely the attitude of those around him. The bombardier leaned as far forward as his safety belt would allow, searched the dense gray above them for some break, the first signs of sunlight, made a low curse shared by every American in the Eighth Air Force. British weather . . .

There had been nothing unusual about this mission, the men awakened at four in the morning, a quick breakfast, then out to the massive sea of planes. The preparation and inspection of the plane had been done by the ground crew, always in the dark, men who did not have the flight crew’s luxury of sleeping as late as four. But as they gathered beside their own bird, eight of the ten-man crew pitched in, working alongside the ground crew for the final preparation, while the pilot and copilot perched high in the cockpit ran through their checklists, inspections of their own. Like the other crewmen, the bombardier had helped pull the enormous props in a slow turn, rolling the engines over manually, loosening the oil. He knew very little about engines, had never owned a car, never earned that particular badge that inspired pride in the mechanics, a cake of grease under the fingernails. But oil seemed important to those who knew, maybe as much as gasoline, and the need for plenty of both wasn’t lost on anyone. If the ground crew said the oil needed to be loosened up, then by God he would pitch in to loosen it up. After some predetermined number of pulls, the chief mechanic gave the word, and the pull of the heavy prop blades became easier, the slow stuttering of the engines, the small generator igniting the sparks tha

Excerpted from No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II by Jeff Shaara
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