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The Guns of the South

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,868 Ratings  ·  313 Reviews
January 1864—General Robert E. Lee faces defeat. The Army of Northern Virginia is ragged and ill-equipped. Gettysburg has broken the back of the Confederacy and decimated its manpower.

Then, Andries Rhoodie, a strange man with an unplaceable accent, approaches Lee with an extraordinary offer. Rhoodie demonstrates an amazing rifle: its rate of fire is incredible, its lethal
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Mass Market Paperback, 528 pages
Published May 27th 1997 by Random House Inc (first published 1992)
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The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. DickWatchmen by Alan MooreFatherland by Robert   HarrisThe Eyre Affair by Jasper FfordeThe Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove
Best Alternate History Novels and Stories
5th out of 387 books — 723 voters
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. DickFatherland by Robert   HarrisWatchmen by Alan MooreJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna ClarkeNew Yesterdays by Jim L. Wright
Best Alternate History
8th out of 229 books — 485 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeff
Oct 20, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
The best evil-racists-from-the-future-supply-AK47s-to-the-South-so-they-can-win-the-Civil-War novel I have read.
Nate
Mar 22, 2015 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled across this book while prowling around this very site and was instantly captivated by the cover; I mean, it's a picture of famous Confederate General Robert E. Lee holding one of the most recognizable firearms of our time--the AK-47. To be honest, it's not even well-done; he's gripping it all weird and it just kind of looks like shit. Throw in a good review from one of my friends on the site and it was an easy three or four dollars to spend, even though I swear the young lady that ran ...more
Thomas
Jul 29, 2007 Thomas rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone and everyone
This is a great book. The cover has Robert E. Lee with an Ak-47 so you know it isn't your standard book. Even though a Confederate victory via time travel is far fetched, it isn't the main part of the book. It has much more to do with the Confederate States as a nation and how it comes to terms with it's own internal problems as well as facing a racism borne out of hatred (by the time travelers), as opposed to their racism based out of ignorance.

The time travelers from a decade ahead of our own
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Mike (the Paladin)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Justin
Jul 17, 2012 Justin rated it it was ok
The Premise: White nationalist Afrikaaners travel back in time and equip Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia with fully automatic AK-47 rifles on the eve of the Battle for the Wilderness in 1864. Hijinks ensue.

That's it, really. Guns of the South is simply that premise followed to one possible conclusion. Though the premise is fantastical, it is slyly subversive: in following the most popular general "what if" of alternate history (South Wins the Civil War), Turtledove is able to prey on t
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Robert Beveridge
Harry Turtledove, Guns of the South (Del Rey, 1992)

Time to make shish kebab out of another sacred cow. Guns of the South is considered THE alternate history novel by many, the one alternate history novel that should be required reading in history classes and on just about every historian's list of must-read Civil War books. And to be fair, it's almost that good. Really.

As with most fiction of the speculative type, especially alternate-history speculative fiction, the plot can be summed up by ask
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Sean
May 15, 2012 Sean rated it liked it
Half masturbatory Robert E. Lee fanfic, half apologia for the South...

Honestly, the concept is brilliant--white supremacists go back in time, help the South win the Civil War with AKs, and it just goes on from there. But man, I lost count of the number of times someone said the war was about keeping slaves, only to be shouted down by people saying that no, really it was about freedom and states' rights. For crying out loud.

Aside from that (which isn't all that bad, it just stands out once you no
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Joel
Jun 04, 2007 Joel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Civil War buffs
Turtledove has a unique way of blending science fiction with history. The way he conveys accounts identify him as a master of history and research. In fact, if he were to publish text books in this manner (without the Sci-Fi obviously), the nation's history I.Q. would rise rather sharply.
It's truly one of those "can't put it down" novels. The way he recreates past events and images with his "twists", shows a mind that thinks outside the box.
"Enfield, Springfield, throw them in the cornfield".
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Kevin Xu
Feb 21, 2015 Kevin Xu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ultimate alternative history book of all time by the ultimate alternative history author of all time. This is the one book to read if to read alternative history.
John
Sep 06, 2011 John rated it it was ok
Am I a bad history grad student for reading this? Probably...
I shouldn't have bothered with this. It was really poorly written in parts, especially any time dialogue had to provide some kind of exposition, and plus it made me feel a little dirty to have to root for the Confederates, as they are the heroes of the book. I knew the basic plot: a group of 21st Century racist South Africans travel back in time and give AK-47s to the Confederates so they will win the Civil War. What I didn't realize w
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Anthony Ryan
Nov 04, 2014 Anthony Ryan rated it really liked it
A seminal work in alternative history dealing with that old chestnut: what if the South had won the American Civil War? Turtledove makes a convincing case to support the notion the only thing that might have swung the balance in the favour of the Confederacy would have been the introduction of something as radically game-changing as the AK-47. Whilst the amateur historian in me doesn't buy all of Turtledove's conclusions, primarily the notion that the Southern states would have quickly thrown of ...more
Jessica
Nov 09, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
This was the first Harry Turtledove book I ever picked up. Well, "picked up" is misleading...I actually had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Turtledove for half a minute at a Comic Con in San Diego many moons ago. He was at a table in the back, and had books all around him (enough to draw me in, that's for sure!) He signed a copy to me and my (then) boyfriend, and I happily walked away. I wasn't able to pick it up for a few years - I had tried once, but couldn't get past the first chapter - but when ...more
David McClelland
Perhaps the only one of Turtledoves novels that I would call truly excellent. Unlike many of his sagas, there's no bloated and exposition heavy storytelling here, just a tightly constructed alternate history with a neat science-fiction twist.

Again, unlike many of his other books, characters are a strength here, bolstered, I think, by the fact that he choses just a few people to focus on, rather than the dozens of on-going characters he usually fills his works with. Robert E. Lee is an interesti
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John Lawson
Time-traveling future racists give past racists advanced weaponry so that racism may prosper. Racism ensues.

"What if the Confederacy won?" is an interesting thought experiment, or possibly a term paper for History class, but the act of basing a novel on it is a whole different can of worms. It involves vivid scenes of wholesale slaughter of troops being mowed down by automatic weapons. Horrific details on the fates of slaves freed by the Union and recaptured by a victorious South. A darker world
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Bart Breen
May 23, 2012 Bart Breen rated it it was amazing
Entertaining and Thought Provoking

Turtledove's Guns of the South, provides a rollicking good read as well as a great deal of insight into some of the common causes cited for the Civil War and why so many factors contributed to the Confederacy's defeat.

A fair criticism can be made that this book is not alternative history in the purest sense of the word. A more common scenario in such tales might more practically be derived from something like having the South win at Gettysburg. However, the addi
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Zachary
Strange as the premise may seem, this novel works quite well. It is a plausible look at what might have happened had the Confederacy somehow managed to get its hands on advanced weaponry and the expertise required to use it. Time traveling is as good a reason as any for Robert E Lee to be holding an Uzi, as the author says, and the inherent ridiculousness of the image is tempered by the seriousness of the novel as a whole.
This book doesn't shy away from addressing the issue of slavery, and in f
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Alan Gilfoy
Sep 23, 2013 Alan Gilfoy rated it it was amazing
Harry Turtledove, The Guns Of The South

Earns his alternate history reputation

I've been interested in the alternate history genre, and finally picked up some Turtledove. (The local library had a copy, and this is a standalone book, as opposed to starting one of his big series in the middle)

The story offers an interesting point of divergence and series of events following from it. The analogues to and aspects from real history are meticulously well-detailed. I sensed that throughout the book, and
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Libby
Sep 29, 2010 Libby rated it it was amazing
This is the story of what happened when time travelers gave Robert E. Lee advanced weaponry in order for the South to win the Civil War. It is also my favorite alternate universe story. Turtledove is absolutely the best when he undertakes to build an alternate world, whether it is a twin to the Byzantine Empire, the American South or Nazi Germany. His viewpoint characters are so vivid, so alive that I feel that I know them well. Their thoughts describe their experiences with wry humor and rueful ...more
Kenny
Nov 25, 2007 Kenny rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: civil war buffs
The difficult thing about alternate history is that one must know the original history to recognize the departures therefrom. The wonderful thing about alternate history is it challenges you to become more informed about the original history, which I have done as I read this slow-moving but ultimately satisfying Civil War tale of the 19th century Confederacy gaining access to 20th century weapons: AK-47 machine guns. The only drawback is the author's clear 20th century POV: slavery is so wrong, ...more
Kathryn
Apr 06, 2010 Kathryn rated it really liked it
At first glance, this seems like one of the sillier ideas out there. "Oo, what would happen if somebody traveled back in time and supplied the Confederacy with AK-47's?" Sounds like an excuse to make a "300"-style movie, with lots of improbable action scenes and Confederate soldiers toting around modern weapons while gritting out one-liners as they mow down the Union troops.

Surprisingly, this is a LOT more than that. Turtledove looks, really LOOKS, at what would happen if the Confederacy gained
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Billy Roper
Jul 17, 2015 Billy Roper rated it really liked it
The subject matter is interesting and his military research passes muster, but political correctness clouds the rest of his narrative as Turtledove seems blithely unaware of Lincoln's support for the American Colonization Society. Frankly, in all modesty, I think that MY alternate reality story of the American Civil War, 'Look Away: an alternate history of the Civil War' is much more accurate and believable. Decide for yourselves.

Look Away: An Alternate History of the Civil War
Tom
Jul 11, 2010 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Phew! This was one of those lost weekend books. I haven't had a reading experience like that in about a decade or so.

I guess, fortunately, I've been sick, so I've had the ability to read more or less to my heart's content.

You will learn from this book, but not in the "learning is fun" kind of way--in the way that you'll know the history like you know a good friend. You don't remember just how you learned it, you just did.

And yet you'll also be transported by a skillful piece of science fiction
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Lew
Feb 13, 2009 Lew rated it really liked it
Despite having a few elements of science fiction, this was a fully believable portrayal of the American Civil War from the Confederate point of view. It's obvious that Turtledove did some painstaking research to make the events and people as accurate as possible. The plot had a few unexpected twists, but even the more predictable events were written well enough to make me keep going. The characters were a likeable lot (even some of the villains), but I especially enjoyed Turtledove's portrayal o ...more
Juanita
Jan 31, 2016 Juanita rated it really liked it
Review: The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove.

I really enjoyed this book. The author combined history with future scientific elements. He created a coming of the age idea and weaved it through the era of the Civil War. I found that intriguing.

The first part of the novel starts in the winter camp of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1864. It was months after Robert E. Lee defeated Gettysburg that he was now encountering some confrontation with the North when he was approached by a man offerin
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Landon
Aug 25, 2015 Landon rated it liked it
Another comfort re-read for me. I can't say how many times I have read this book, but the number is surely north of a dozen. This is, in my opinion, one of Turtledove's best works. Like many of his books, this one follows the stories of separate characters who are disparately affected by the main divergence from established history, and those stories don't really interact (except to brush up against one another briefly). But Turtledove is sharp enough to realize that more is needed for gripping ...more
Jeff
Jun 17, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
My first Turtledove alternative history book. A simple premise, in the waning years of the Civil Ware, Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virinia is on the ropes after Gettysburg. A man in strange clothes (camouflage) and speaking with a strange accent comes to Lee and offers him something that will change the course of history. That something? The AK-47. With that one change Turtledove posits how life, the war, government, the US and the world would change around it.

the war is over pretty
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Cécile C.
May 25, 2015 Cécile C. rated it really liked it
I read this book slowly. It's not what you call a captivating read: it's slow, the characters develop at a snail's pace, the structure jerks around a bit with the points of view alternating very quickly. Still, I finished it over a month ago, and I still think about it from time to time, so I'll consider it a good book.

This is alternate history in its purest form. I'm not an expert on the American Civil War, but from what I know, it's quite well-researched. It's not a simple "what-if" book: man
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Rebecca
Oct 21, 2014 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I've been trying to decide why I was so lukewarm on this book. (Minor spoilers below.)

It's a clever idea: time-traveling racist Afrikaners try to rewrite history by ensuring that the South wins the Civil War. The research is exhaustive, and Turtledove plays out the scenario in great detail (down to figuring out how the electoral college votes would look for the subsequent presidential race). The protagonists are likeable and show some character growth.

But it left me cold, despite being well-writ
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Lee
Sep 15, 2014 Lee rated it really liked it
Several times throughout the novel Turtledove pulled off the neat trick of staging a surprising turn of events that I did not predict, but which in hindsight seemed to be quite a logical development, almost inevitable.

I would have preferred Bean to have been one of the major point-of-view characters, rather than Caudell. Caudell didn't get to see much more than Bean in the wartime chapters, and Bean certainly got to see a lot more interesting things than Caudell in the peacetime chapters. I woul
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Watervliet Public
Aug 28, 2014 Watervliet Public rated it really liked it
Shelves: larry
This is the best Alternative History novel I have ever read. It's about what would have happened if the South had won the American Civil War. The opening chapters show the Confederate Army on the verge of collapse during the cold winter of 1864. But Turtledove uses time travel to allow mysterious radicals to give Robert E. Lee a secret weapon: the AK-47 Assault Rifle.

Although the premise sounds silly, Turtledove has researched every possible detail of military organization and training in the C
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Dr Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced a sizeable number of works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.

Harry Turtledove attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977.

Turtledove has been dubbed "The Master of Alternate History". Within this genre he is known both for creating original sce
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