Jeff Shaara, a descendant of Italian immigrants, was born in 1952 in New Brunswick, New Jersey (“Shaara” was originally spelled “Sciarra”). He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University in 1974, with a degree in Criminology. From age 16, Jeff operated a rare coin business, first out of his home, then in a retail store. In 1974, he moved to Tampa, Florida, and eventually, Jeff became one of the most widely known coin and precious-metals dealers in Florida. In 1988, Jeff's father, the writer Michael Shaara, died, and Jeff made the decision to sell his business, and take over the management of his father’s estate.
In 1993, the film Gettysburg was released, which was based on his father’s classic novel, The Killer Angels. After the critical and commercial success of the film, Jeff was approached about the possibility of continuing the story, finding someone to write a prequel and sequel to The Killer Angels. After some considerable soul-searching, Jeff decided to try to tackle the project himself. The decision was difficult in many ways, but most challenging because Jeff had no previous experience as a writer.
In 1996, Ballantine Books published Jeff’s first novel, Gods and Generals, the prequel to his father’s great work. Gods and Generals leapt onto the New York Times Bestseller List and remained there for fifteen weeks. Critics nationwide praised the book and Jeff's writing ability, and the book was awarded the American Library Association's William Young Boyd Award. No one was more surprised than Jeff himself. In 1998, the sequel, The Last Full Measure, was published with the same result: thirteen weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List and universal praise from critics and fans nationwide. Two years later, Jeff published his third novel, Gone for Soldiers, which followed many of the familiar Civil War characters back to their experiences in the Mexican-American War of the 1840’s. Received with much critical acclaim, the book became Jeff's third nationwide bestseller.
Leaving the Civil War era behind, Jeff’s next two novels, Rise To Rebellion and The Glorious Cause, took readers back to the extraordinary characters of the American Revolution. Both were, again, bestsellers. Moving forward, Jeff then tackled the First World War. To The Last Man, released in 2004, was not only Jeff’s sixth bestseller, but also received extraordinary praise from notable figures such as General Tommy Franks, Steve Forbes and General Wesley Clark. In addition, To The Last Man was awarded the American Library Association’s William Young Boyd Award for Excellence in Military Fiction, Jeff’s second such award. In February, 2003, the major motion picture Gods and Generals, based on Jeff’s first book, was released by Warner Brothers. Jeff Shaara's Civil War Battlefields, Jeff's only non-fiction work, was published in April, 2006, and is a unique and personal tour across ten of this country's most valuable pieces of hallowed ground. In 2007, Jeff was named to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Civil War Preservation Trust.
Jeff's eighth book, The Rising Tide, was published in November 2006. The story is the first of what became a series following an extraordinary cast of characters through the European theater of the Second World War. The Rising Tide was again a New York Times bestseller. The Steel Wave, which follows key participants through the Normandy invasion was a New York Times bestseller in 2008. No Less Than Victory, the conclusion of the trilogy, which portrays the European war’s last act, was published in November 2009 and was also an instant New York Times bestseller. The last novel in the series, The Final Storm, portrayed the pacific theatre of World War II, and was also a New York Times bestseller. In late 2011, Jeff's alma mater, Florida State University, honored him by bestowing their first of what will become an annual "Distinguished Writer's Award."
In 2012, Jeff launched a new Civil War series, beginning with A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh, which debuted on the NYT bestseller list. The following installment, A Chain of Thunder: A Novel of the Siege of Vicksburg, was likewise a bestseller.