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 charac...moreI 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. (less)
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...morePhew! 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.(less)
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 w...moreThis 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. (less)
This book wasn't perfect, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. The approach most of the writers took was dissapointingly obvious, and even a little repe...moreThis book wasn't perfect, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. The approach most of the writers took was dissapointingly obvious, and even a little repetitive as you read through them.
A few stand-outs for me were Ursula LeGuin's challenging and, for me exciting essay on Tolkein's use of language in the first part of Fellowship. Terri Windling's essay at the end brought me in touch with feelings I've had for years, but haven't had the words to express myself just yet.
Card challeneged the way I look at literary fiction, in an emphatically good way, though I have to reluctantly admit that his tone was a little curmudgonly. What the hell, that's kind of one of the things I like about him.
These are heartfelt, honest pieces, to a one, and you'll have a lot of fun with this if you've ever read and loved anything of Tolkein's.(less)