The Great War: American Front (Great War Series #1) by Harry Turtledove | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Great War: American Front (Great War Series #1)

The Great War: American Front (Great War Series #1)

4.5 102
by Harry Turtledove

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When the Great War engulfed Europe in 1914, the United States and the Confederate States of America, bitter enemies for five decades, entered the fray on opposite sides: the United States aligned with the newly strong Germany, while the Confederacy joined forces with their longtime allies, Britain and France. But it soon became clear to both sides that this


When the Great War engulfed Europe in 1914, the United States and the Confederate States of America, bitter enemies for five decades, entered the fray on opposite sides: the United States aligned with the newly strong Germany, while the Confederacy joined forces with their longtime allies, Britain and France. But it soon became clear to both sides that this fight would be different—that war itself would never be the same again. For this was to be a protracted, global conflict waged with new and chillingly efficient innovations—the machine gun, the airplane, poison gas, and trench warfare.

Across the Americas, the fighting raged like wildfire on multiple and far-flung fronts. As President Theodore Roosevelt rallied the diverse ethnic groups of the northern states—Irish and Italians, Mormons and Jews—Confederate President Woodrow Wilson struggled to hold together a Confederacy still beset by ignorance, prejudice, and class divisions. And as the war thundered on, southern blacks, oppressed for generations, found themselves fatefully drawn into a climactic confrontation . . .

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The definitive alternate history saga of its time."
—Booklist (starred review)

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Harry Turtledove has established himself as the grand master of the alternative history form."
—Poul Anderson

"Harry Turtledove is, quite simply, the best . . . and he is getting even better."
—S. M. Stirling
   Author of Island in the Sea of Time

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This masterpiece of alternate history takes place in the same world as Turtledove's How Few Remain and begins a projected tetralogy of a First World War fought with Germany and the U.S. allied against Britain, France and the Confederacy. The reader is drawn in at once as a German cruiser approaches Boston and Jeb Stuart III trains his artillery on the Capitol Dome, and Turtledove sustains high interest throughout the lengthy narrative. As in How Few Remain, the author gives full recognition to social and economic factors (e.g., how conscription impacts politics; how labor shortages affect the position of barely emancipated blacks in the Confederacy). He also plausibly depicts the opening stages of race war. In addition, he unleashes the horrors of trench warfare on American soil and shows how an American army of occupation might look from the point of view of the occupied Canadians. With shocking vividness, Turtledove demonstrates the extreme fragility of our modern world, and how much of it has depended on a United States of America. This is state-of-the-art alternate history, nothing less. Author tour. (June) (PW best book of 1998)
VOYA - Tom Pearson
In his previous book titled How Few Remain (Del Rey, 1997), Turtledove set the stage for this alternate history of World War I. In this world, the South triumphed in the Civil War and became the Confederate States of America (CSA). Now the CSA and the United States of America (USA) enter World War I as bitter enemies. The USA is allied with Germany, while the CSA is allied with Britain, France, and Canada. The USA invades the Upper South and Canada, and the fierce fighting that results produces huge numbers of casualties due to the use of new weapons such as poison gas, the machine gun, and the airplane. Readers familiar with this author's work will not be fazed by the dizzying variety of characters, locales, and events depicted. Entirely fictional characters rub elbows with historical personages like Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and George Armstrong Custer (who in this reality managed to avoid his date with destiny at the Little Big Horn). Locales include a fishing trawler, occupied Washington, D.C., and a CSA prison for captured USA soldiers. As a Turtledove fan, I truly enjoyed this book, and found it charming the way his alternate histories sidle through history like snakes in a room full of razor blades. The problem with this author's alternate histories, however, is that much of their wit and charm is entirely lost on persons with little knowledge of history (i.e., high school students). Therefore, purchase of this book is recommended only where alternate histories in general or Turtledove in particular have already proven popular. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
Turtledove, whose "Worldwar" saga presented an alternate look at World War II, turns his attention to World War I in his latest projected series, set along the same timeline as How Few Remain (LJ 8/97). The outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 brings about a corresponding declaration of war in North America as the rival United and Confederate states side with their respective allies. Vignettes of trench warfare in Kentucky, Marxist uprisings among the second-class black population of the Confederate States of America, and daily life in "occupied" Canada (an ally of the Confederates) provide the author with various viewpoints from which to examine the cost of the war to end all wars. Fans of alternate history and military fiction buffs will demand this well-thought-out series opener. Recommended for most libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/98; for another book by Turtledove, written under the pseudonym H.R. Turteltaub, see Justinian, reviewed above.--Ed.]
School Library Journal
YA-Turtledove's love of history has been evident in many of his SF novels, and especially intriguing are his "alternative histories," in which he takes a pivotal event and twists it. In this sequel to How Few Remain (Del Rey, 1997), in which the Confederate States of America won the Civil War and established its independence, the author moves the action into the 20th century. With the outbreak of World War I, the U.S., led by Theodore Roosevelt, joins forces with an aggressive Germany and the C.S.A., led by Woodrow Wilson, aligns with France and Great Britain. Through well-developed military and civilian characters, Turtledove shows the horrors and the life of trench warfare reimagined here on North American soil with its mustard gas and advanced weaponry, and the lives of everyday people caught up in events beyond their control. A great choice for libraries needing superior materials for SF collections or for history discussion.-John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews
The master of alternate history returns with this sequel to How Few Remain (1997), wherein the Confederate States of America, with the help of backing from the French and British, won its independence. Later, itþs true, the CSA was forced to free its slaves, but otherwise little changed. Now, in 1914, President Teddy Roosevelt has allied with Germany, while the CSA and Woodrow Wilson are backed by Britain and France. Abraham Lincoln's brand of communism, however, has taken root, and even while WWI rages on American as well as European soil, the CSAþs oppressed blacks prepare for the inevitable revolution. A workmanlike yarn whose connection to reality, insecure at the outset, grows more tenuous with every turning page. Expect another sequel.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Great War Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.24(w) x 6.83(h) x 1.49(d)

Read an Excerpt

George Enos was gutting haddock on the noisome deck of the steam trawler Ripple when Fred Butcher, the first mate, sang out, "Smoke off the starboard bow!" That gave George an excuse to pull the latest fish off the deck, gut it, toss it down into the icy, brine-smelling hold, and then straighten up and see what sort of ship was approaching.

His back made little popping noises as he came out of this stoop. I'm getting too old for this line of work, he thought, though he was only twenty-eight. He rubbed at his brown mustache with a leather-gloved hand. A fish scale scratched his cheek. The sweat running down his face in the late June heat made the little cut sting.

He followed Butcher's pointing finger with his eyes. "A lot of smoke," he said, whistling low. "That's not just another Georges Bank fishing boat, or a tramp freighter, either." His Boston accent swallowed the r's in the final syllables of the last two words. "Liner, I'd guess, or maybe a warship."

"I think you're right," Butcher said. He was little and skinny and quick and clever, his face seamed by wind and sun and spray till he looked to have ten more years than the forty-five or so he really carried. His mustache was salt and pepper, about evenly mixed. Like Enos, he grew it thick and waxed the ends so they pointed toward his eyes. Half the men in the United States who wore mustaches modeled them after the one gracing Kaiser Wilhelm's upper lip.

Captain Patrick O'Donnell came out of the cabin and pressed a spyglass to his right eye. "Warship, sure enough," he said, his Boston mixed with a trace of a brogue. "Four-stacker—German armored cruiser, unless I'm wrong."

"If you say it, Captain, we'll take it to the bank," Fred Butcher answered. That wasn't apple-polishing. O'Donnell had spent years in the U.S. Navy, rising to chief petty officer, before he retired and went into business for himself. He'd seen German warships at a lot closer than spyglass range; he'd exercised alongside them, out in the middle of the Atlantic, and maybe in the Pacific, too.

"She's going to pass close to us," Enos said. He could see the great gray hull of the ship now, almost bow-on to the Ripple. The plume of black coal smoke trailed away behind.

Captain O'Donnell still had the telescope aimed at the approaching ship. "Imperial German Navy, sure enough," he said. "I can make out the ensign. Now—is that the Roon or the Yorck?" He kept looking, and finally grunted in satisfaction. "The Yorck, and no mistaking her. See how her cranes are pierced? If she were the Roon, they'd be solid."

"If you say so, Captain. You're the one with the spyglass, after all." Enos' chuckle suited his wry sense of humor. He took another naked-eye look at the oncoming Yorck. The cruiser was nearly bow-on. When he spoke again, he sounded anxious: "We see her, Captain, but does she see us?"

The question was anything but idle. As the Yorck drew near, she seemed more and more like an armored cliff bearing down on the steam trawler. The Ripple was 114 feet long and displaced 244 gross tons. That made her one of the bigger fishing boats operating out of Boston harbor. All at once, though, Enos felt as if he were in a rowboat, and a pint-sized rowboat at that.

"How big is she, Captain?" Fred Butcher asked. The huge hull and great gun turrets gave him pause, too.

"At the waterline, 403 feet, 3 inches," O'Donnell answered with the automatic accuracy of the longtime Navy man he was. "She displaces 9,050 tons. Four 8.2-inch guns, ten 6-inchers, crew of 557. Four-inch armor amidships, two-inch belts at the ends. She'll make twenty-one knots in a sprint."

"If she runs us down, she won't even notice, in other words," Enos said.

"That's about right, George," O'Donnell answered easily. He took pride in the strength and speed of naval vessels, as if having served on them somehow magically gave him strength and speed as well. Even so, though, his glance flicked to the American flag rippling atop the foremast. The sight of the thirty-four-star banner rippling in the brisk breeze must have reassured him. "They'll see us just fine. Here, if you're still worried, I'll send up a flare, that I will." He dug a cigar out of his jacket pocket, scraped a match against the sole of his boot, and puffed out a cloud almost as malodorous as the coal smoke issuing from the Yorck's stacks.

As if his cigar had been a message to the German cruiser, signal flags sprouted from her yards. O'Donnell raised the telescope to his eye once more. The cigar in his mouth jerked sharply upward, a sure sign of good humor. "By Jesus, they want to know if we have fish to sell!" he burst out. He turned to Butcher. "Tell 'em yes, and don't waste a second doing it."

The affirmative pennant went up almost as quickly as the order had been given. The Yorck slowed in the water, drifting to a stop about a quarter-mile from the Ripple. Then everyone aboard the steam trawler whooped with delight as the German cruiser let down a boat. "Hot damn!" yelled Lucas Phelps, one of the men minding the trawl the Ripple had been dragging along the shallow bottom of Georges Bank. "The Germans, they'll pay us better'n the Bay State Fishing Company ever would."

"And it all goes into our pockets, too," Fred Butcher said gleefully. On fish that made it back to Boston, the crew and the company that owned the boat split the take down the middle. Butcher went on, "We're light five hundred, a thousand pounds of haddock, that's not ever gonna get noticed."

The happy silence of conspiracy settled over the Ripple.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"The definitive alternate history saga of its time."

—Publishers Weekly

"Harry Turtledove has established himself as the grand master of the alternative history form."
—Poul Anderson

"Harry Turtledove is, quite simply, the best . . . and he is getting even better."
—S. M. Stirling
   Author of Island in the Sea of Time

Meet the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart, The Guns of the South, and How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the War That Came Early novels: Hitler’s War, West and East, The Big Switch, Coup d’Etat, and Two Fronts; the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance;the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, andIn at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

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