Jeff Shaara was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey on February 21, 1952. He received a degree in criminology from Florida State University in 1974. He was a professional dealer in rare coins for many years and operated his own business in Tampa until the death of his father, Michael Shaara, in 1988, when he became actively involved in the elder Shaara's literary estate. He continued his father's work by researching the history of the characters his father had brought to life in The Killer Angels, and in 1996 his prequel, Gods and Generals, was published. The book was awarded the American Library Association's Boyd Award for Excellence in Military Fiction and was adapted into a motion picture in 2003. His other works include The Last Full Measure, Rise to Rebellion, The Glorious Cause, The Steel Wave, No Less Than Victory, and The Final Storm. He received another Boyd Award for To the Last Man. He began a new series dealing with the "Western" theater of the Civil War, with the release of A Blaze of Glory and A Chain of Thunder. In 2014, he made The New York Times Best Seller List with his title The Smoke at Dawn.