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Settling Accounts: Return Engagement (Settling Accounts Series #1)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2009

    What might have been.

    Many have complained that this book paints the South in a bad light and is unrealistic. However, Turtledove's account of a Nazi-esque South is sadly not as far from the truth as many would contend. Featherston's rabble rousing methods, while molded to fit the Hitler mold, clearly show some influence from such Southern leaders as "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman who openly advocated the murder of Black Southerners in the early 1900s and was rewarded with jobs as Governor and Senator but who was openly populist and anti-elitist as well.
    The world Turtledove presents of the 1930s and 40s is very different from our world and very strange, but not altogether implausible. Of course, a lot of factors and choices would have had to be made to bring us to that point and Turtledove shows how these choices could have been made. It is a fascinating yarn that makes us appreciate (at least from the US point of view) that we made different choices. He also does us a service by shedding light on certain forgotten realities, like the violent US government suppression of the LDS church in the 1870s, which very well might have persisted were the Northern States the weak totality of the United States.
    Turtledove does some fun and interesting things with his characters and their development and it makes us wonder about just how we have gotten here. Turtledove is an academic historian with the gifts of storyteller and his fascinating What If tales provide excellent food for thought if for nothing else than whether his What If is plausible or not. People should not take them too seriously or feel too personally insulted because What If tales can easily show us the great devils of our nature rather than the angels. I am sure 1890s Germans would have been quite appalled at the notion of massacring their Jewish population, a population well-integrated into their society, but then events and various series of choices led them to unspeakable horror, a horror which it seems all societies are capable of committing.
    This story makes one wonder about so many of the realities of our world which we too often take for inevitable certainties. By reading the What If tales we hopefully realize just how much power we DO have to shape history and our own destinies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2007

    Ended...but not concluded

    Apparently the last in Harry Turtledove¿s alternate history series, a decade long undertaking set on the premise that the South had won the Civil War, ¿In at the Death¿ is at once both satisfying and disappointing. The satisfying part comes from watching the ¿bad guys,¿ those who have worn ¿black hats¿ throughout this thinly veiled alternate to Hitler¿s rise to power in Germany, finally get their comeuppance. The sad deaths of several character to whom the reader became attached are largely missing from this episode. Only the bad guys buy the farm in this one¿so there is a measure of emotional reward there. That said, however, Turtledove made several crucial decisions that will leave many readers feeling cheated and maybe more than a little disappointed. The quick, ignominious end of the Confederate president is a surprise, a bit of a disappointment¿and maybe a message. Perhaps the no frills end to this evil life was Turtledove¿s editorial comment on the question of whether evil ought to be granted any celebrity whatsoever. In this case, he certainly granted it none. Similarity, after all the build-up, the war actually ends rather quickly in this tale¿leaving a good chunk of the book to the post-war adjustments made by the various characters. One or two are quite surprising, even if logical. Unfortunately, they are not by themselves really enough to carry the story through the pages allotted to this portion of the saga. Finally, Turtledove¿s apparent 'and VERY regrettable' decision to end the saga here literally leaves a world of questions unanswered. Another trilogy could easily follow this one, even if the central character, the driving force of the entire series is no longer on the scene. Fans can only hope that after a year or two Turtledove will return to this world of his creation and bring to story forward another 20 years. It would be worth the wait.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2007

    Good reading

    This is an interesting book and a good series. Overall I enjoyed this book and the author has some interesting opinions and ideas of what might have happened.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    Interesting and enjoyable but somehow a bit long & flat

    I started to read Turtledove more than 11 years ago (the 1st book of the World War series). 12 months after the last book in the series of an alternate universe where the South won the Civil War was published, 'The Grappel' is finally available. It covers the years 1941-1943. The USA is (again) at war with the CSA. After the CSA had marched deep into Ohio in the last book, this is now the USA's turn to fight back with a vengeance. What bothers me with this book is that as years pass Dr. Turtledove seems in need of writing thicker and thicker books (while I don't really understand why), and that the technical details that made books 1-4 of the World War series so enjoyable are almost completely missing here. Also missing: Interaction of the book's characters with historic 'real life' people with the exception of Roosevelt and Patton (or did I miss somebody else?). The European side of the war is almost untouched as well. On the positive side are the number of different characters from both sides, being set in various environments, and occasionally interacting with each other. This makes the book as long as it is a rather easy read. Nice references to 'real' war events & technologies put a smile on the alternate SciFi fan's face (again, more specific technology references would make a bigger smile. Or why not introduce a character who helps developing a specific technology like a tank, the nuclear bomb, rockets, jet planes?). It is almost a requirement to read the previous books first in order to really enjoy the events in this one. One more book to come before this alternate World War II will come to an end, and I'm sure another series covering an alternate Cold War will follow. Other than the original World War series I belief this one has a lot of potentials left to fill another 4-8 books. But please, Dr. Turtledove, keep it to 500 pages or less, and don't make us wait a whole year for the next book to follow!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2005

    Great Story

    I've been reading the storyline since How Few Remain. I love every book in the series, and am looking forward to the next one. An invasion of the north that the south actually pulled off is a very interesting concept. Just what would have happened if the South would've won? This book could possibly be the real WW II. I definitely reccommend it....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2005

    Back in top form

    As I did, readers of Turtledove's alternate history series may have found that Victorious Opposition, the last installment covering the interwar period, was a tedious and unpleasant exercise during which one knew nothing good was going to happen, but which was nonetheless unavoidable to set up what would follow. Part of the problem with that book (in addition to Turtledove¿s annoying penchant for repeating himself) was its almost complete lack of suspense: having bought into the parallels of Turtledove¿s alternate reality, the reader KNEW each step of what must happen before it actually took place. As I wrote in a review of that volume a year ago, it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. With the first volume of Settling Accounts, however, Turtledove has returned to form, again spinning a yarn that keeps the reader engaged and surprised. The key here is that, in spite of hints and what the reader ¿thinks¿ he or she knows, since it is Turtledove¿s universe he can nudge it along in whatever direction he wants. Thus, the Confederates¿ initial victories come along a line few Americans (in either Turtledove¿s universe or ours) would expect. This more than makes up for those times when the author has telegraphed his intentions and the handwriting is on the wall for all (but his characters) to see. As before, familiar historical figures, from FDR and Al Smith, to Joseph Kennedy, Jr., Winston Churchill, and Louie Armstrong appear in decidedly unfamiliar roles...although it is maddeningly unclear why the instantly recognizable Douglas Macarthur is suddenly rechristened ¿Daniel¿ in this saga. Also as in the last two volumes, characters who have outlived their usefulness to propel the story meet various timely and untimely deaths, some more satisfying than others. But with a slimmed down cast, Turtledove has the chance to move the story along at a somewhat more rapid pace than he has previously. This said, however, readers may be forgiven if they wonder if Turtledove really had to make this latest saga a trilogy as his previous installments were. The gnawing sense of backtracking, repetition and needless filler dog this book just as they dogged its three immediate predecessors. This quibble aside, the expository repetition IS reduced, the cast of characters HAS been trimmed, and surprises and twists await the reader in this generally satisfying opening salvo of Turtledove¿s version of WW II. Since no one (save Turtledove himself) knows exactly how he is going to eventually end the tale (and thereby make whatever moral and political points he has in mind) the three volumes of the Settling Accounts promise to be an interesting ride indeed.

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