No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II

No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II

by Jeff Shaara


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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...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345497925
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/03/2009
Series: World War II Series , #3
Pages: 449
Sales rank: 609,495
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of A Chain of Thunder, A Blaze of Glory, The Final Storm, No Less Than Victory, 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 Gettysburg.


Kalispell, Montana

Date of Birth:

February 21, 1952

Place of Birth:

New Brunswick, New Jersey


B.S. in Criminology, Florida State University, 1974

Read an Excerpt


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 that would gradually kick each of the four engines into motion. The crews would stand back, admiring, their efforts paying off in a huge belch of smoke and thunder, the props turning on their own. Even the older mechanics seemed to enjoy that brief moment, swallowed by the exhaust, the hard sounds rolling inside them, deafening, all the power that would take this great bird up to visit the enemy one more time.

With the engines warming up, the pilot had given the usual hand signal, the order to climb aboard. The bomber’s crew would move toward the hatches, and the veterans could predict who would be first in line. It was always the newest man, this time a show of eagerness by the ball turret gunner, a man who did not yet know how scared he should be. As the crew moved toward the hatches, the men who stayed behind had one more job, offering a helping hand, some a final pat on the rump, or a few words meant to impart luck. There were customs now, some of the ground crew reciting the same quick prayer or making the same pledge, to buy the first drink or light the first cigarette. See you tonight. Give those Nazi bastards one for me. Some had written names or brief messages on the bombs themselves, usually profane, a vulgar greeting no one else would ever read. All of this had begun at random, but by now it had become ceremony, and the brief chatter held meaning, had become comforting repetition to all of them. There was another ceremony as well. As the crew passed beneath the nose, each man reached up to tap the shiny metal below the brightly painted head of an alligator, all teeth and glowing eyes. The plane had been named Big Gator, some of her original crew insisting that she be endowed with a symbol of something to inspire fear in the enemy. No one had asked if any Germans actually knew what an alligator was, but the flight engineer had come from Louisiana bayou country, and he had made the argument that none of the others could dispute. Not even the pilot had argued. As long as the painted emblem was ferocious, Big Gator worked just fine. This morning, they were embarking on their thirty-second mission, and thus far, only one man had sustained more than a minor combat wound: the ball turret gunner, replaced now by this new man who seemed to believe he would shoot down the entire Luftwaffe.

With longevity came even greater superstition, especially for the ground crew. There was a desperate awareness of the odds, of fate. Thirty-one successful missions was an unnerving statistic by now, rarer by the week. It was the reason for all the rituals, the most religious among them believing that God must somehow be paying particular attention. If someone said a prayer, the same prayer, it might encourage a Divine smile toward this bird that would bring these men home one more time.

The superstitions were reinforced by the number of combat missions they were required to fly, what had become a sore point to every crewman in the Eighth Air Force. Originally, each crewman was expected to complete twenty-five missions, a number that had become some sort of magic achievement. As a man passed twenty, the rituals became more intense, some drawing one more X on the wall beside their beds, some refusing the poker games for fear of draining away their luck. Then the number of missions had been raised to thirty, and the grumbling had erupted into unguarded cursing toward the air commanders. But the missions continued, the superstitions adjusted, and the new men, the replacements, seemed not to know the difference. After a time, word had come, some officer knowing to pass along the order and then duck for cover. The number had been raised to thirty-five. The protests had erupted again, but the brass had been inflexible and unapologetic. As the bombing campaigns intensified, the flow of new crews from the training centers was too slow to keep up with the need for more and more aircraft. That was the official explanation. But word had filtered through the hangars and barracks that the number of missions had been raised because so many of the crews were being killed. Experienced crewmen had already begun to grumble that thirty-five might become a luxury, that someone far up the chain of command had already decided the number would continue to rise. The men who had seen so many from their own squadrons fall out of the sky were beginning to believe that they would have to fly as many missions as it would take for them to be killed.

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No Less Than Victory 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 189 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some plot lines or story threads are left incomplete. Balanced view of each side of the war, and discussed from the senior strategists as well as the GI's in the foxholes. Would have been interesting and even more balanced to have had the same foxhole-level story on the German side.
jfk1942 More than 1 year ago
As usual like his father Jeff does a great job of bringing history to life.I liked the characters, especially Benson. & Higgins. I can't wait till next year when he starts the new series on the Pacific.
RevArt More than 1 year ago
I have found this to be the perfect conclusion to the WWII trilogy. Shaara continues to use his unique style to move the plot forward. I found the depiction of the characters engaging. He has the ability to put you into the narrative, feel the cold, smell the gunpowder, and grieve the carnage of war. The narrative moves along at a brisk pace. This is a classic in hisorical fiction. Highly recommended to all who are interested in WWII.
Varonius More than 1 year ago
Both Michael and Jeff Shaara's books fill that unique niche in the book world. Both write historical fiction that is based upon actual events but is not the same old "histories" that offer only the details of the events. Their books let the reader "feel" the events that transpired and help the reader understand what it meant for these men and women to "live" through the history that was taking place. I highly recommend their books as a supplement to the true histories for a better understanding of these events of history. I have read all their books and will continue to read all their future offerings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best, most well-researched fictional accounts of WW2 I've ever read. Jeff Shaara nails it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We are huge Jeff Shaara fans, and my husband loved this book. My dad is a WWII vet (although of the South Pacific, in the Navy), and we went to a book-signing event at our local Barnes & Noble and had Mr. Shaara inscribe a personal message. Dad read it before New Year's! Jeff Shaara picked up where his dad left off in his focusing on small details of real wars and fleshing out real people using imagined encounters with fictional ones. I feel he's easily as talented as his father was. Highly recommended.
THEBRIT More than 1 year ago
Another superb offering from Jeff Shaara! His father's "Killer Angels" first got me hooked and I always wondered at the seemingly "seamless" transition when Jeff took up the task of completing the Civil War trilogy. Father and son were so obviously on the same wavelength. I have never found history to be a "dry" subject but it appears often to be thought so, particularly by the younger generation, but Michael and Jeff Shaara's books should be required reading in history classes at school. Often taught as a boring list of events and dates, history is ultimately about the people and that is where the Shaaras excel.........they take you inside the particpants and allow you to watch the events, as they happen, through their eyes. Close your eyes and you can smell the blood, sweat and powdersmoke and feel the tears. No Less Than Victory gives an extraordinary insight into what it was like to BE THERE, in the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge in that cold and miserable winer of 1944/45. Other, non-fiction, histories will give more detail, but NLTV allows one to experience those happenings on the personal level from the "poor bloody infantry" who froze in the snow and mud to the "brass" at Ike's SHAEF HQ. Make sure you read it in the warm - you'll still feel cold, wet and miserable at times! And if this your first Shaara, then read the back in time to D Day, Gettysburg, Bunker Hill and a hundred other momentous events and make personal acquaintances of the fascinating cast of characters who shaped history. Yes, this IS the way history should be taught!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is written as a insider look into the greatest generations war. However due to the massive size of the war itself the book feels rushed at points. I also wonder why the author did not put any Russian soldiers in the novel. But still a four star novel
creighley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
G reat format which shows the feelings of both sides during the conflict. The Battle in the Ardennes is included.
lamour on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shaara uses the historical fiction method to tell the story of Allied victory in Europe from the start of the Battle of the Bulge to the end of the War. He has us see the the events through the eyes and minds of the soldiers and the commanders from both sides of the lines. I know from my reading in this area that he is very accurate in his interpretation of these events.
chrisod on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
No Less Than Victory is the 3rd and final book of the WWII in Europe trilogy. I don¿t need to do a long winded review on this one. If you¿ve read any other Shaara books you know what you are getting. It¿s a meticulously researched historical novel with realistic and very believable details added to fill in the gaps that we will never really know.
sundance41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book, satisfying conclusion to the WWII series. The book, as all his others, explores war through the eyes of both major historical figures as well as the typical soldiers. I really enjoy Shaara's books and this one was no exception. I look forward to the next series in his collection. What war will be next.
terbby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the third in the author's series of novels based on historical figures in World War II. The history is compelling but the author seems uncertain whether he is writing a novel or an historical account. The book doesn't really work as either. It's a good read because of the dramatic events but the fictionalized narratives all sound the same; a conversation involving General Eisenhower is indistinguishable from one involving Private Benson judging from the invented dialogue. Patton sounds different but his profanity is toned down so even he doesn't sound real. Hitler says some foolish things but his style of speaking is the same as the rest. All that said, I did enjoy the book and read it from cover to cover because it does take us inside the major decisions and events of the war and shows us the famous generals on both sides.
oldman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This the third of Jeff Shaara's triology of WWII. Taking up at the Battle of the Bulge and following through to the drive to the Elbe several personalities are followed Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Montgonmery, and infantrymen Benson, Higgins and Mitchell. The Battle of the Bulge segments were primarily concerned with the onset, retreat and the victory of the Battle of the Bulge. Most of action is from the infantryman's viewpoint. Later segments describe the command response at the higher levels. Patton's drive to Bastogne and beyond begins to involve more of the higher echelons of command than the infantryman's experience. The final segments describe the political machinations surrounding the end of the war and which army gets which part of the German nation. The best part, as always, are the thumbnail biographies of the characters at the end.This novel covered a different part of the war than the first two. I found this novel to be less enticing than the others, possibly because the format was the same and maybe redundant to some extent or that much of the novel covered the higher command levels and not with those I was most interested in knowing. The command decisions are all well-known, but the actions of the individual soldier, his fear and his courage, have always been my greatest interest and this novel doesn't deliver that as well as the previous ones. Nonetheless this was an interesting read and worthy of 4.5 stars.
Karlstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I usually like Jeff Shaara novels, but this may be the weakest of all of his books that I've read. This is the 3rd of his World War 2 novels, and in theory covers the time period from November 1944 to May 1945. The area is strictly limited to France and Germany. To me this is the book's biggest flaw. World War 2 is too complex for a book of this limited scope. In theory, by following Eisenhower as he does, we could get an overall picture of the war in Europe, but that is not the case. There are good things in this book. The story of an infantryman and what he goes through is enlightening and informative. The perspectives of the Germans are also interesting. The parts that focus on the end of the war in Germany and what the allies discovered there, while not new information, are presented in different way. Overall, while I found this somewhat interesting, I really didn't learn much I didn't already know, and there weren't enough new perspectives to make a difference. Not enough information or revelations for people who are familiar with the history of World War 2.
ZoharLaor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this book was the best of the series.In his usual style of "historical fiction" Mr. Shaara takes us through the European theatre in WWII as seen through the eyes of its generals, politicians and, the parts I found most interesting, the soldiers themselves.This is solid storytelling, primarily focusing on the Battle of the Bulge, as seen through the eyes of the grunts, and as managed by the generals on both sides of the fence. Unlike the authors other books, this book has less characters (or so it seemed at least) which I find to be more appealing and less confusing. Even though it's always fun to read about the clashes between Montgomery and Patton the story focuses on Private Eddie Benson and his experiences at "mud level".The reader's journey through the eyes of Benson, while peeking in the minds of the generals is a winning combination which makes the story more personal and engrossing.Even though I have heard many people who condemn the oxymoron called "historical fiction" it has worked for me personally. Because of Mr. Shaara's Civil War books I read many other historical books and biographies of the characters I was interested in - so as you can see, I think that writing about history on a grounded, personal level has many benefits especially for those who don't' find history as fascinating as I do.My only comment is that I think it would be wonderful if Mr. Shaara could provide some pictures of the personalities involved so we can see what they look truly look like (instead, for example, picture George C. Scott as General Patton or Ike as the President).
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WMB More than 1 year ago
Last in the series. Great book. Great series.