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The Guns of the South

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  6,645 Ratings  ·  371 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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Mass Market Paperback, 563 pages
Published October 1993 by Del Rey (first published September 22nd 1992)
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Mario There is some level of profanity and references to sexual content (especially prostitution). The most concerning thing for parents is probably the…moreThere is some level of profanity and references to sexual content (especially prostitution). The most concerning thing for parents is probably the extremely common usage of the 'n-word'.

Otherwise, most of book's content is appropriate to all ages.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeff
Nov 01, 2012 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Werner
Feb 17, 2017 Werner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alternate history fans who can stomach depictions of racism and racist language
Despite my fondness for alternate history, I've never gotten around to reading much of it, and Harry Turtledove's work in the field was virgin territory to me until I read this book. (I know, that's pretty shocking, since his name is practically synonymous with the sub-genre in U.S. book circles!) But I've recognized this novel as a must-read for years, and finally decided (long story!) to read it now rather than later. I'm very glad I did; it's early in the year, but this might well be my favor ...more
Lyn
Jul 07, 2017 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best alternate history novel?

Hell, I don’t know, I haven’t read that many, but this one was pretty damn good.

SPOILER ALERT! In this book, the South wins the Civil War! OK, so not that much of a spoiler, I think that’s on the cover. But HOW that happens is how Turtledove makes this interesting.

A group of racist South Africans goes back in time and equips General Lee’s army with AK-47s. The added firepower was all the crafty old tactician needed to turn the tide on Grant and Lincoln.

So what ha
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Nate
Aug 17, 2013 Nate rated it really liked it
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
Mike (the Paladin)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas
Jul 29, 2007 Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  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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Justin
Jul 17, 2012 Justin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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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John
Aug 31, 2011 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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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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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Kevin Xu
Mar 16, 2011 Kevin Xu rated it really liked it
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.
Sean
May 15, 2012 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  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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Jessica
Nov 09, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Anthony Ryan
Nov 04, 2014 Anthony Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stuart McCunn
Jun 17, 2017 Stuart McCunn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing novel that has time-traveling apartheid terrorists go back in time to supply the Confederate army with AK-47s and keep white supremacy alive into their day so that they're not isolated when their government comes under pressure in the early 21st century.

With this story I have to wonder who the intended audience is. I doubt the Confederate pride people will be happy at the reminder of just how horrible slavery truly was (even if Southerners are the protagonists), whereas it was phys
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Alan Gilfoy
Sep 23, 2013 Alan Gilfoy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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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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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
Bart Breen
May 23, 2012 Bart Breen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Stephanie
Jun 16, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, gun nuts, Southern apologists
This book really wasn't for me. I like guns and history just fine. If you like stuff about the Civil War, then you might like it.

For me, there were a couple of key issues. The first was how long it took to describe how the time-traveling racists taught the Confederates how to use their new guns. There were several other sections that had a lot of excess detail. I'm more interested in the plot and character development than explanations about how stupid people from the past are and how cult-like
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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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Kenny
Oct 22, 2007 Kenny rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jul 10, 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 12, 2009 Lew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Billy Roper
Jun 21, 2015 Billy Roper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary JL
Nov 26, 2008 Mary JL rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
This is an excellent alternate history book. The premise is simple: what if the South had won the US Civil War?

I have read quite a bit of actual Civil War history and Turtledove has doe his research well. If there are any glaring historical erros, I missed them.

The characterizations of Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee are very, very well handled, plus a large cast of secondary characters.

Some of the political problems faced by the new Southern nation are touched on; which I found especially int
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Evan Leach
Harry Turtledove is the unofficial master of alternate history, and this is his most widely read book. Set in the Civil War, The Guns of the South re-imagines a war where the Confederacy is equipped with superior arms, thanks to some mysterious benefactors. Alternate history isn't one of my favorite genres, but this was an entertaining read. 3 stars.
Carol Storm
Nov 13, 2013 Carol Storm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
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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...

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