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The Guns of the South

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  4,948 ratings  ·  276 reviews
January 1864--General Robert E. Lee faces defeat. The Army of Northern Virginia is ragged and ill-equpped. 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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Paperback, 563 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Del Rey (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeff
The best evil-racists-from-the-future-supply-AK47s-to-the-South-so-they-can-win-the-Civil-War novel I have read.
Thomas
Jul 29, 2007 Thomas rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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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Nate
Sep 17, 2013 Nate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
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
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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Joel
Jun 04, 2007 Joel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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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Justin
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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Sean
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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Anthony Ryan
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
John
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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Bart Breen
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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Jessica
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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Zack
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
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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Mike (the Paladin)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Libby
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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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Tom
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
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
Rebecca
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
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
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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Daniel Peacock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bo Crawford
To echo what others have said, this is an above average time-travel story. The speculative 'what-if' parts of the book are, indeed, fascinating to think about.

I found the woman named Mollie serving in the Army of Virginia the hardest part of the book to accept. (Yes, the book has time travelers with AK-47s.) Imagine my surprise to learn that a female named Mollie did, in fact, serve in the Army of Virginia disguised as a man! Had I had this information up front, I feel I would have enjoyed the b
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Ravi
The book " The guns of the South " published on September 22, 1992 was written by harry turtledove. It is a great historical - fiction, as a plot of the American - Civil war. The story begins in a winter camp, General Robert lee got approached by a man who offered him AK-47's, a big advantage set for the south in the civil war. The gun was only 50$ each unit, very cheap. South with this big advantage of the automatic weapons smash north and strait into Washington D.C. But the action doesn't end ...more
James
If you like historical fiction with a dash of science fiction yet mostly a history of what the South would be like without losing to the Union, then this book is for you.

What I appreciated about Turtledove is how he did not make a big issue about 21st century politics from the white racists who stole a time machine and traveled to the waning days of the US Civil War.

Not only was there a lot of emphasis on life in the trenches, military strategy of Grant and Lee, but also what the parties at Jef
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Carol Storm
Incredibly fast-paced, readable, action-packed and informative Alternate History novel with a simple premise. What if the South had won the Civil War after being armed by Time Travelers with AK-47 Assault Rifles?
Gwen Veazey
Fascinating alternate history first published in 1992 answering the question, "What if the South had won the Civil War?" Written by a professor of history, the story is so well-researched and detailed, I often felt I was reading nonfiction. Not sure I am totally on board with the glorification of Robert E. Lee, who is presented as a saint, or the redemption of Nathan Bedford Forrest, an organizer and first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. This ultimately upbeat novel shows faith in the Southern ...more
Matthew Hodge
The Guns of the South is an interesting experiment that never quite worked for me. But the premise is great. For those who know their Civil War history (I'm an Australian, so I'm not assuming everyone does), by 1864, the fourth year of the war, the Confederacy knew it was going to lose, and in reality went on to do so.

But author Harry Turtledove, introduces an interesting twist - what if some men with strange accents showed up, and offered General Robert E Lee, commanding general of the Confeder
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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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More about Harry Turtledove...
In the Balance (Worldwar, #1) How Few Remain (Timeline-191, #1) Tilting the Balance (Worldwar, #2) Striking the Balance (Worldwar, #4) Upsetting the Balance (Worldwar, #3)

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