I grudgingly give this book a second star because Turtledove, as usual, did his research, and it pays off generally, especially in terms of his characI grudgingly give this book a second star because Turtledove, as usual, did his research, and it pays off generally, especially in terms of his characterization of Sam Clemens (Mark Twain), a man whom you feel like you've met after reading this.
Otherwise, this was disappointing on a number of levels. I expected a conflict of epic grandeur, of two brother nations at each other's throats with tensions, reversals, and twists: triumph and tragedy on both sides. No such luck.
You can guess how it will end very early in the book. I stayed with it because, based on Guns of the South, I expected more from this author. Nope, I guessed it right early on.
Another factor that kept me moving through the book was the subject of Mormonism. As a Mormon myself reading an author whose work I have enjoyed, I was interested to gauge his treatment of the subject. All in all I thought he was fair and generally accurate. I don't think John Taylor would be dumb enough to provoke the US government as Turtledove depicts, but the unfolding consequences on both sides is chillingly plausible and fairly sympathetic to the Latter-Day Saints.
His treatment of Lincoln induced eye-rolls all the way through. If Lincoln had read Marx, he would not have been nearly so thoughtlessly sympathetic to communism. A man as bright as Lincoln would spot the flaws in Communist theories and the way it advocates taking from the laborer to give to the indolent, incentivising theft and turning every citizen into both a slave and a slave master.
For the history geek there are a few exciting scenes of meetings between major civil war figures that never actually took place, but which would have been fascinating.
I'm hoping the sequels will be better, because this novel can only work as a set-up to more interesting books. ...more
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 beenPhew! 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. It's full of tension, action, moral complexity, and singingly accurate historical detail that brings you right there.
Never did I feel like I was being lectured to. I felt, rather, that I was transported to another time. I feel it's about the closest thing I'll ever get to living in Robert E. Lee's world....more
This is the kind of book I read books for in the first place. Every time I check out a book, a part of me is hoping to find a story this enthralling wThis is the kind of book I read books for in the first place. Every time I check out a book, a part of me is hoping to find a story this enthralling with characters this charming. It comes together beautifully with complex themes that make you think and feel, but good along with the bad. I'll be treasuring this one for many years to come. It's my new favorite novel of all time. ...more