Lesson Plan: Author Jeff Shaara

What Is Historical Fiction?

Author Jeff Shaara explains the meaning of historical fiction from his perspective of writing stories in this genre.


This lesson is a collection of video clips featuring author Jeff Shaara. He discusses how he became interested in writing historical fiction, some themes in his writing and his research and writing process. Use this lesson with your students to engage them in an author study.


  • Step 1:

    Students can use the accompanying handout to take notes as they read about the author and view the videos in this lesson.

    Handout: Jeff Shaara (Google Doc)

    Ask students to read Jeff Shaara's biography on his website to provide background on the author. This can be read at home to introduce the lesson or in class individually or as a whole group.

    Jeff Shaara Biography

  • Step 2:

    Have students view the collection of video clips below to hear Jeff Shaara talk about how be became an author, his themes and his writing process. This activity may be jigsawed among students in the class or completed individually.

    Video Clip 1: What Is Historical Fiction? (3:37)

    Author Jeff Shaara explains the meaning of historical fiction from his perspective of writing stories in this genre.

    Video Clip 2: Themes (7:36)

    Jeff Shaara talks about the themes of recurring characters, military politics, the role of Washington, DC and failure.

    Video Clip 3: The Mexican American War (2:55)

    Jeff Shaara talks about the parallels between the Mexican and the Vietnam Wars and how the U.S. expanded after the Mexican War.

    Video Clip 4: Why He Wrote about the Civil War(6:03)

    Jeff Shaara talks about his interest in writing about the Civil War and the impact his father Michael Shaara's book "Killer Angels" had on him and his career.

    Video Clip 5: Sources for Research (2:05)

    Jeff Shaara talks about the value of the newspapers as he researched the Civil War era and the significance of diary entries and letters as sources.

    Video Clip 6: The Writing Process (3:11)

    Jeff Shaara talks about his writing process in researching and developing his stories.

  • Step 3:

    As a class, discussion students' observations and personal connections they made with the author and information they noted as they viewed the videos.


    Have students select one of the following activities after completing this lesson:

    1. Create Snapchats highlighting what you have learned from the story. Some ideas to highlight are: who has influenced you as a writer and what themes are you interested in writing about?

    Have them share their snap by taking a screenshot of it and sharing it with the class.

    1. Write a letter to Jeff Shaara explaining how his personal journey as an author and his writing process have influenced them.

Additional Resource


  • Battle At Gettysburg
  • Battle Of Chosin Reservoir
  • Battle Of Manassas
  • Bias
  • Civil War
  • Colonialism
  • Conduit
  • Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Manifest Destiny
  • Mexican War
  • Monroe Doctrine
  • Pulitzer Prize
  • The Alamo
  • War Of 1812
  • William Tecumseh Sherman


English & LiteratureU.S. History


Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity