Settling Accounts: The Grapple (Settling Accounts Series #3)

( 104 )

Overview

“A profoundly thoughtful masterpiece of alternate history.”
–Booklist

It is 1943, the third summer of the new war between the Confederate States of America and the United States, a war that will turn on the deeds of ordinary soldiers, extraordinary heroes, and a colorful cast of spies, politicians, rebels, and everyday citizens. The CSA president, Jake Featherston, seems to have greatly miscalculated the North’s resilience. But as new demonic tools of killing are unleashed, secret wars are unfolding. The U.S. ...

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Settling Accounts: In at the Death (Settling Accounts Series #4)

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Overview

“A profoundly thoughtful masterpiece of alternate history.”
–Booklist

It is 1943, the third summer of the new war between the Confederate States of America and the United States, a war that will turn on the deeds of ordinary soldiers, extraordinary heroes, and a colorful cast of spies, politicians, rebels, and everyday citizens. The CSA president, Jake Featherston, seems to have greatly miscalculated the North’s resilience. But as new demonic tools of killing are unleashed, secret wars are unfolding. The U.S. government in Philadelphia has proof that the tyrannical Featherston is murdering African Americans by the tens of thousands in a Texas gulag called Determination. And the leaders of both sides know full well that the world’s next great power will not be the one with the biggest army but the nation that wins the race against nature and science–and smashes open the power of the atom.

“Turtledove never tires of exploring the paths not taken, bringing to his storytelling a prodigious knowledge of his subject and a profound understanding of human sensibilities and motivations.”
–Library Journal

“One of the strongest books in the extended series.”
–sfsite.com

“Compelling.”
–Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
War rages at full throttle in the third bristling installment of Turtledove's Settling Accounts alternate history series. In fact, the contestants' frantic race to build an atomic bomb seems almost peaceful in comparison to the bloodshed and violence of this WWII war between the states. The tide has turned against the Confederacy, but its losses make its Hitler-like leader only more desperate to exact cruel justice on his enemies.
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR HARRY TURTLEDOVE

“Turtledove [is] the standard-bearer for alternate history.”
–USA Today

Settling Accounts: Drive to the East

“First-time readers can jump in and enjoy Turtledove’s richly rearranged cultural and political landscape.”
–The Kansas City Star

“Engrossing . . . thoroughly satisfying.”
–Publishers Weekly

Settling Accounts: Return Engagement

“Strong, complex characters against a sweeping alt-historical background.”
–Kirkus Reviews

American Empire: The Victorious Opposition

“Powerful . . . demonstrates Turtledove’s continuing mastery of historical fiction . . . almost impossible to praise too highly.”
–Booklist (starred review)

American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold

“Turtledove never tires of exploring the paths not taken, bringing to his storytelling a prodigious knowledge of his subject and a profound understanding of human sensibilities and motivations.”
–Library Journal

American Empire: Blood & Iron

“Nobody plays the what-if game of alternative history better than Turtledove. . . . This book begins a panoramic story, a new trilogy at least, that promises to be immensely fascinating.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly
The compelling third volume (after Drive to the East) in Turtledove's third alternate history of WWII series opens with the Confederacy reeling after the loss of their forces in the cauldron around Pittsburgh. The United States is trying to suppress the Mormon rebellion in Utah, while Canadian patriots fight the occupying Yanks to a stalemate. Negro guerrillas who escaped being swept up into death camps authorized by C.S.A. President Jake Featherstone disrupt the rural economy. Meanwhile, both sides work feverishly to win the race to build an atomic bomb. One may question the appropriateness of using the Holocaust as a springboard for an entertainment, but Turtledove convincingly depicts how an American holocaust could well have happened. Some Confederates begin to feel pangs of conscience, just as the U.S. troops who execute hostages among the Mormon, Canadian and Confederate civilians feel nothing but repulsion. While somewhat repetitious and a bit preachy in spots, Turtledove's latest proves that third time is the charm. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345464071
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/26/2007
  • Series: Settling Accounts Series , #3
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 324,867
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry Turtledove is an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy. His alternate-history works have included several short stories and novels, including The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; 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 American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; Settling Accounts: Return Engagement, and others. He is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

I

Funereal music poured out of the wireless set on Brigadier General Clarence Potter’s desk. For three days, Confederate stations had played nothing but somber tunes and even more somber commentaries praising the courage of the army whose survivors had just surrendered in Pittsburgh.

Potter’s mouth twisted. Behind steel-rimmed spectacles, his cold gray eyes flashed. That army should have taken Pittsburgh away from the damnyankees. With their great industrial center gone, the USA should have had to make peace. From everything the Intelligence officer knew, Pittsburgh was a wreck. That would hurt the United States. But the army that should have conquered it was gone, every man a casualty or a prisoner. That would hurt the Confederate States even more.

The latest dirge-tempo march ended. An announcer came on the air. “Courage, self-denial, modesty, and the willingness to make every sacrifice are the highest virtues of the Confederate soldier,” he said. “It was not the lust for conquest which caused the Confederacy to take up arms. This war was forced upon us by the destructive aims of our enemies.”

Well, what else could the man say? If he came right out and announced that Jake Featherston wanted to go to war long before he became President of the CSA, it wouldn’t look good. Potter knew perfectly well that it was true. He also knew that what was true and what made good propaganda often had not even a nodding acquaintance with each other.

“Our soldiers are completely imbued with the importance and the value of the ideas now championed by the Freedom Party,” the announcer said. For better and for worse, Potter knew how true that was. The announcer went on, “The Confederate soldier is convinced of them to the very depths of his innermost being, and that is why the Confederate armed forces form an invincible bloc having as its spiritual foundation the sublime ethics of a soldierly tradition. It is, moreover, inspired by belief in its high mission of protecting the Confederate States against the longtime enemy to the north, the enemy who would gladly deny our great nation its very right to exist.”

Again, he wasn’t wrong. This was the fourth war between the USA and the CSA in the past eighty years. But if the Confederates were so bloody invincible, what went wrong in Pennsylvania? Potter, a confirmed cynic, would think of something like that. Would the average Confederate who was listening? Maybe not.

“We see the most magnificent example of this in the sacrifice of the troops fighting at Pittsburgh,” the announcer went on. “That let our armies farther west build up new dams to hold back the raging Yankee torrent and continue to preserve the Confederacy from the annihilating rule of the USA. Cut off from all possibility of receiving reinforcements, surrounded by implacable foes, they fought on with bayonets and entrenching tools after their ammunition was exhausted. Truly their courage and devotion will live forever.”

The music swelled once more: yet another sorrowful tune. Potter sighed. Putting a good face on disaster was always hard. He wondered why he kept listening. Knowing what the rest of the country was going through was useful. That had something to do with it. The rest was akin to picking at a scab. The pain held a perverse attraction.

He started a little when the telephone rang. Turning down the music, he picked up the handset. “Potter here.” If anybody needed to know what he did, that person had got hold of him by mistake.

“Hello, Potter there.” The voice on the other end of the line was a harsh rasp every Confederate citizen recognized at once. “I need you to be Potter here, soon as you can get on over.”

“Yes, Mr. President. On my way.” Potter hung up. He turned off the wireless. When Jake Featherston said he wanted to see you as soon as you could come, you needed to get to the Gray House in a hurry.

Potter went upstairs. The door by which he came out on the ground floor had something innocuous painted on the frosted-glass window. You would never open it unless you already knew where it led.

Workmen labored to repair bomb damage. The damnyankees hit the War Department as often as they could. More and more of the business here went on underground—how far underground, even Potter wasn’t sure any more. The men who bossed the work parties were whites too old or too crippled to help the war effort. Some of the men in the crews were colored, though a lot of Negroes had already been removed from Richmond. More workmen were Mexicans, up from Francisco José’s ramshackle empire to find better-paying work in the CSA.

Some offices on the ground floor were still usable. The officers and clerks who worked in them took a sour pride in staying at those battered desks as long as they could. Several men waved to Potter as he walked past. He nodded in return.

All the motorcars outside the War Department were ordinary civilian models. Every so often, U.S. fighters streaked low over Richmond in broad daylight, shooting up whatever they could. No point giving them any special targets. As if at a cab stand, Potter got into the forwardmost auto. “The Gray House,” he told the driver.

“Yes, sir.” The soldier started the engine and put the Birmingham in gear.

More work crews repaired streets and gas lines and water mains and electric lines and telephone wires and . . . anything else that could be damaged when bombs fell on it or near it. Hardly any glass windows faced the world these days. Plywood and cardboard covered even the ones the damnyankees hadn’t blown to smithereens.

Again, Mexicans did a lot of the work Negroes would have handled before. The Confederate States would be a different country when the war was through. Whites had anxiously watched blacks for much too long. Well, soon there’d be far fewer blacks to need watching. Potter had long opposed the Freedom Party, but he didn’t mind its taking a shot at the Negro problem. He didn’t know any white man who did.

As he’d expected, the driver had to detour several times before he got to the presidential mansion. Craters made some streets impassable. One block had sawhorses and warning signs all around. danger! unexploded bomb! the signs shouted in big red letters. Maybe the bomb was a dud. Maybe a time fuse ticked inside it. Either way, Potter didn’t envy the men who worked to get the ordnance out of there. They were skilled technicians. No matter how skilled they were, their average life expectancy was measured in weeks.

The snouts of sandbagged antiaircraft guns poked up from the Gray House grounds. Not much of the building was left above ground. The damnyankees kept doing their best to level it. They wanted Jake Featherston dead, not only because losing him would take the wind out of the Confederacy’s sails, but also because Confederate bombs had killed U.S. President Al Smith.

“Here you are, sir.” The driver pulled to a stop in front of the rubble pile.

“Thanks.” Clarence Potter got out of the Birmingham. With a clash of gears, it rolled away.

Guards waited in among the wreckage. “Let’s see your papers, sir,” one of them said.

No one got anywhere in the CSA without proper papers these days. Potter displayed his. Once the guards were satisfied about who he was, one of them used a telephone. That done, he nodded to his pal. Together, they opened a heavy steel trap door.

Potter went down the stairs. They bent several times to foil blast that might penetrate the door above. In due course, he got to another door, this one even thicker. He pressed the button next to it. It swung open from the inside. More guards nodded to him. “Come with us, sir,” one of them said.

“I know the drill,” Potter said.

They ignored him. He’d figured they would. All of what went on at the Gray House went on underground these days. People who spent a lot of time down there were as pale and pasty as . . . people who spent a lot of time underground at the War Department. Potter looked at the backs of his own hands, and at the veins clearly visible there. He wasn’t a vampire, to whom the sun was death, but he often behaved as if he were.

Lulu, Jake Featherston’s longtime secretary, nodded to him. “He’ll be with you in a moment, General,” he said.

“Thank you, ma’am,” Potter answered. You treated Lulu with respect or you were sorry. No one ever talked about the authority secretaries and other such people had, which didn’t make it any less real.

The moment stretched to about five minutes. Featherston wasn’t in the habit of making people cool their heels just to be sitting. Something had to be going on. And something was. Nathan Bedford Forrest III, the head of the Confederate General Staff, came out of the President’s office. He didn’t look happy.

He looked even less happy when he saw Potter in the waiting room. Potter wasn’t happy to see him, either. They weren’t quite conspirators. If it looked as if Jake Featherston was dragging the CSA down to ruin, someone would have to try to dispose of him. If that worked, someone would have to try to run the country afterwards. As far as Potter could see, Nathan Bedford Forrest III made far and away the best candidate.

Forrest wanted the job as much as he wanted another head. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t try to do it—he had a strong sense of duty. It meant he hoped everything would turn out all right, even though he was the one who’d first wondered whether Jake Featherston was going round the bend.

Did Featherston know about those wary discussions? If he did, would Nathan Bedford Forrest III still be free? Potter didn’t think so.

“You can go in now, General,” Lulu said.

“Thank you very much,” Potter said. From most Confederates, that would have been, Thank you kindly. He’d never lost the more than half-Yankee way of speaking he picked up to fit in while he was at Yale.

“Hello, Potter,” Jake Featherston said. The President of the CSA was in his early fifties, tall and rawboned, his close-cropped brown hair going gray. His eyes had dark pouches under them that hadn’t been there a few years before. They still blazed, though. If ruthless determination could pull the CSA through, Featherston was the man to give it.

“What’s up, sir?” Potter asked, hoping it had nothing to do with Nathan Bedford Forrest III.

“I need you to light a fire under Professor FitzBelmont. I don’t care if you promise him prime pussy or promise you’ll shoot his kids if he doesn’t get his ass in gear, but get him moving. We really need that uranium bomb,” Featherston said.

The Confederate uranium program had got off to a slow start because the President didn’t believe in it at first. Potter couldn’t blame him for that; who in his right mind would have believed it? But when the Confederates learned the United States were going after uranium explosives as hard as they could, they’d had to follow suit.

“If lighting a fire will do anything, I’ll do it.” Potter wasn’t sure it would. Separating U-235 from U-238 was proving fiendishly hard and fiendishly expensive. “They could use more money and more men, too.”

“Whatever they need, we’ll give it to them,” Featherston vowed. “If the damnyankees are ahead of us on this one, we’re screwed. If we beat ’em to the punch, we win. Even Pittsburgh won’t matter at all. It’s about that simple. Or will you tell me I’m wrong?” He glared a challenge at Potter.

“No, sir.” Potter meant it. He might despise Jake Featherston the man, but Jake Featherston the leader was dead right here.

Major Jonathan Moss became a flier at the start of the Great War because he thought it would prove a cleaner, more chivalrous way of fighting than the mess on the ground. And he was right—for a while.

After a career as a lawyer in occupied Canada, he came back to flying not long before the new—the greater?—war broke out. With his wife and daughter killed by a Canuck bomber, he threw himself into aviation as much to stay sane as for any other reason. And he got shot down over Virginia and spent a while languishing in the Confederates’ Andersonville POW camp. If not for a tornado that flung barbed wire in all directions, he would have been there yet.

Now he was a foot soldier, not because he wanted to be one but because he had no choice. The Negro guerrillas who found him would have killed him if he didn’t join their band.

Chickens and chunks of pork roasted over campfires in the pine woods of southwestern Georgia. The white man from whose farm they’d been taken didn’t need to worry about his livestock any more. Neither did his family. The USA and the CSA followed the Geneva Convention when they fought each other. The USA and the Mormon rebels in Utah played by the rules, too; the Mormons were, if anything, more scrupulous than their U.S. foes about keeping them. Between black guerrillas and Confederates, rules went out the window. It was war to the knife.

“Smells goddamn good,” Captain Nick Cantarella said. The infantry officer, much younger than Moss, had escaped from Andersonville with him. With his knowledge of how to fight on the ground, Cantarella had to be more valuable to the Negroes than Moss was.

“Be ready soon.” The black who led the guerrillas called himself Spartacus. He wasn’t far from Moss’ age. He’d fought for the CSA in the Great War, and reminded Moss of a career noncom in the U.S. Army. Jake Featherston didn’t want any Negroes fighting on his side. Spartacus used everything he’d learned fighting for the Confederacy to fight against it now.

After Moss got outside of some hot, greasy pork and a tin cup of chicory-laced coffee, he asked, “What do you aim to do next?” He had no trouble treating Spartacus as his CO, and it wasn’t just because the black man could kill him with a word. Like most whites in the USA, Moss hadn’t had much to do with Negroes. There weren’t many in the United States, and most whites were happy to keep it that way. He’d always thought of Negroes as inferior; he hadn’t had much reason to think otherwise. But Spartacus would have commanded respect as a man if he were green with blue polka dots.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 104 )
Rating Distribution

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(54)

4 Star

(32)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 104 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2006

    How much Nazism can you unload on the South?

    The best thing one can say about this book is that it moves the story along. However, after about four doses of the same Nazi-Germany-in-the-New-South, this is wearing thin. Turtledove moves Hitler, the SS, death camps, submachine guns, high cycle rate machine guns, Stukas, blitzkrieg, and probably a few others I missed, while missing details like Patton's IVORY handled revolvers. This is despite, in this timeline, The CSA are allied with the British and French, who did not create those things. He also gives the CSA a semiautomatic rifle, despite not holding the Springfield Arsenal. One suspects that all this is also to drag the book along and prevent a two-chapter war. For devotees only.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Great

    Great if u love madeup history

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Shows

    Shows y if seceddind from union would have been a mistake

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Lpve series

    Love series

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  • Posted July 22, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Very much Recommended

    I highly recommend this book, well written and thought out. It is interested to to watch the CSA get slowly and inextricably pushed back.

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  • Posted July 11, 2012

    Excellent ongoing story

    Despite the historically-accurate racist terms and attitudes of some characters, this book (this series) is NOT racist, nor are any of its predecessors. It is a reasonably accurate accounting of what COULD have happened if the South had won the War Between the States (Civil War). The writing continues to be interesting, and the characters believable. The situations are both militarily and civilly logical, as well as entertaining. It is, after all, ALTERNATE history fiction. Harry continues to do a very fascinating (to me) job of developing this story line, with both known and little-known characters from our history. My only negative comment is not on the story, but on the tardiness of the publisher in getting out the pocket edition. I really don't like lugging around these large-sized paperbacks. Go from hardbound to pocket, willya? Please? I almost didn't buy (yet; this large edition) because of that. This series is even more interesting (to me) than the original, relatively sci-fi "Guns of the South" (which was interesting in itself). I'm enjoying this sequel and have already purchased ITS sequel(s). Good work! From a modern Southerner who recognises this alternate reality.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Very interesting

    I love this book its an excellent and creative read

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    Great book

    Highly recommended

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    Great book

    I enjoyed it in the series and highly recommend it.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    Great book

    I loved this series.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    Awesome piece of the series

    Highly recommended.

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Read this one, and the next

    This is the stunning second to last book.

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Very Good book

    I think this is a great book, read it!

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Super Good

    Highly recommended, superb writing, you want to read every single page and thirst for even more.

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Super Good

    Stunning, the rest though, is left to your imagination.

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  • Posted October 17, 2009

    Harry Turtledove continues to amaze me

    SETTLING ACCOUNTS: THE GRAPPLE is the 9th Harry Turtledove book I've purchased and read.

    His "What if" of Americana draws from actual history as well as the flights of fancy. From HOW FEW REMAIN thru THE GRAPPLE his take and twists of what could have been is interwoven between the lives of several characteres all striving to survive in this timeline.

    His take on the political landscape is nothing less than brilliant and I must admit some of his suppositions have driven me to research actual history to see where those divergent points came from.

    He's a brilliant historian... he has to be in order to do what he does so well.

    His character development is exceptional and I've found myself almost grieving as some of them have died.

    But the best thing I can say about any author is he's a great story teller.

    And putting aside everything else he is one of the BEST story tellers I've had the joy of reading.

    I've read many long historical series and eventually wind up packing those books away and selling them in a yard sale or donating them to a charity auction.

    That's not going to happen with THE GRAPPLE and my other books by Mr. Turtledove. He's a permanent addition to my library.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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 November 25, 2007

    This war is a dud

    I've enjoyed most of Mr Turtledove's books, but this one is less like alternative history and more like pin the tail on the donkey. Jake Featherston is Hitler. The CSA has to lose. Got it. I read Book One of this series, mostly because I had always found the characters interesting. No longer. Now they have all the depth of cartoon characters. The whole war turns on a pinhead and all the CSA characters are killed or marginalized as Nazi-like. The USA, depite fighting a war on several fronts are able to turn it around and begin to win the war. But all of a sudden the CSA characters are a bunch of idiots and the USA can do no wrong. I knew when I started reading the series that the CSA 'NAZIS' were destined to lose the war, but no logic is shown for how a better equipped army suddenly starts losing to one that was back on its heels. I read about 80 per cent of this book and stopped, and have the third one but will never read it, much less buy the fourth. It's Mr Turledove's history and he can do what he wants, he'll just be doing it without me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2007

    Excellent conclusion, more to come?

    This book is the conclusion of the 'Settling Accounts' tetralogy, which in turn is part of the alternate storyline of a North America where the South had won the Civil War 'this is the 11th book in that series'. About the first 50% of the book deal with the final stages of this alternate WWII, including the development and usage of atomic bombs 'I counted 10', jet fighters, V2-type missiles, and the liberation of the CSA death camps. The last part is about the USA starting occupation business in the South. As always, the book tells the story of a bunch of individuals on both sides, each story about 4-5 pages long before switching to the next character, and then back a chapter or two later. This sometimes makes it a bit difficult to concentrate on the overall storyline, but at the end it makes the book a very entertaining read. Altogether a very satisfying book, however, I had expected part of the storyline to cover the ongoing occupation of Canada. Also, at the end of the book we still don't know much about the war progress in Europe. Opposite from when Dr. Turtledove tried his hands on an 'alternate future' in the last book of the Colonization series, I sincerely wish this series will go on. It is just Spring of 1945 in this universe, and lordy what possibilities a creative mind could come up with - Elvis fighting underground in the CSA, Fidel Castro becoming a famous baseball player, JF Kennedy becoming the first man on the moon, the Cold War with alternate foes, - man, it would be a shame if we wouldn't see another trilogy. I know I would enjoy it!!

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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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