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The Center Cannot Hold (American Empire, #2)
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The Center Cannot Hold

(American Empire #2)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  2,375 ratings  ·  33 reviews

In this spectacular, thought-provoking epic of alternate history, Harry Turtledove has created an unparalleled vision of social upheaval, war, and cutthroat politics in a world very much like our own—but with dramatic differences.

It is 1924—a time of rebuilding, from the slow reconstruction of Washington’s most honored monuments to the reclamation
Paperback, 640 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Del Rey (first published June 25th 2002)
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,375 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Luke Hershberg
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
One theme of this book is that you shouldn't elect bad people into positions of power. One example is that in the Confederate States of America they elected Jake Featherston into power who is a radical who wants to get revenege on the United States and the African Americans who rose up during World War 1.
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
More familiar historical figures showing up in different contexts and more of the world going to Hell in a hand basket as reactionaries take control of the Confederate government. Characters introduced as young children in novels from the previous series are now getting married and having children of their own. The breadth of these narratives is amazing.
Tim Basuino
May 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Occasionally while perusing a book store, I'll see that a particular novel has multiple authors, which always had me wondering as to why. After reading a succession of Harry Turtledove novels, I am starting to understand the impetus.

Turtledove is outstanding when it comes to contemplating 'what-if' scenarios - hence his presence as one of the most popular alternate history writers. But he's downright inadequate in terms of writing dialogue, which prevents him from reaching the category of 'great
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I somehow missed Turtledove's birthday last week. A few signs you've read too much Turtledove: You're automatically suspicious of any political movement that crows too loudly about "freedom", you can envision Mormon suicide bombers, and you wonder how World War II would have turned out if alien lizards invaded Earth in the middle of it.
The continuation of the long and intricate alternate history track Harry Turtledove began with a "what if" change of events during the Civil War. For me, this series is addictive. The characters and events are intriguing and I want to know what happens next.
Reza Amiri Praramadhan
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-ebooks
After the reparation payment imposed by USA to CSA had stopped, things seemed to look better for CSA. The Whigs were set to rule like it used to, and Freedom Party looked like it headed to oblivion, since one of its members assasinated the President of CSA. However luck changed when there was Great Depression came, propelled Freedom Party to power. And thus, CSA looked forward to war, to avenge its humiliation on the last war by its northern neighbor. Overall, I tend not to be very excited to th ...more
David Potocnik
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Yet another installment in a series that I am happy that a buddy of mine got me hooked on. I love all the different characters and the unfolding of similar yet different events in alternative history. The author must have one of the most active imaginations to bind so many different characters over such a long story. I look forward to the next one!
George Flannary
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good

It was a good book but definitely the second book of a trilogy feel to it. It’s interesting that the first carrier battle in this timeline happened almost a decade before in happened in ours
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty good.
Marylee Lannan
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A prophet is somebody who looks at things the way they are and leads them to their obvious conclusion. Me. Turtledove does that, in my opinion.
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the sixth installment in Turtledove’s sweeping epic retelling of American history based on the Confederate States of America winning the Civil War and establishing their independence. Having posited a redux of that war a generation later, and re-imagined World War I with the USA and the CSA on opposite sides, he has now moved on to the decades between the two World Wars.

The USA, as one of the victors in the Great War, has become an empire, having annexed significant portions of the CSA a
Mike Hedley
I've read several HT books, including several in this series. While the narrative is good and overall enjoyable reading, I found several aspects to be unrealistic, no matter that it's "alternate history". The first is the tiny part Britain plays, even being defeated in Northern Ireland by the Irish (with help from the Yanks of course). No mention of the naval battles against Germany which, but for some bad luck (and some glitches in British ship design) could have led to the routing of the Germa ...more
May 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The other John
Dec 17, 2007 rated it liked it
This is the middle volume of the American Empire trilogy, volume six of the story arc in which the South's victory in the Civil War makes the North American continent a place of hatred and bloodshed. At this point, the whole story has run out of steam, somewhat. This part of the tale runs from the early 1920s until 1932. Things happen, but life during the boom of the Roaring 20's and the depressed 30s isn't quite as dramatic as it was during wartime. The characterization is still good, and I'll ...more
Holden Attradies
Like most of the books in this series the ones in the middle of story arcs tend to be slow. But unlike the other middle books the last half of this book really picks up steam. Now I'm not complaining about the slow pace. That slow, detailed pace is why I adore these books. But when things keep you on the edge of your seat like the rise to power of Jake Featherston in the end of this book it's really hard to stop reading (or listening in this case). This book has such a good ending in fact that i ...more
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was an alternative history book set mostly in the early 1900s in what we know as the US and Canada but in this book things are quite different. It was a fairly good read even though I didn't read its predecessors. I am going to defer to the description found a the web site listed here for a much better description.
ISBN - 0-345-44421-3, Alternative History, Pages - 547, Print Size - R, Rating - 4
All books reviewed are from the library or purchased by
Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I usually enjoy Turtledove novels.
Maybe as I am reading the American Empire Series as a block, and after 1200+ pages, am I suffering from fatigue. I am still keen to continue on, so the story is still engaging. However instead of being a ripping yarn, it seems to have bogged down in too much character developing/living their normal (boring) lives as the world turns on Turtledove's alternate axis.

Onwards and upwards!
Jan 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Once again, Harry Turtledove takes the fabric of history and twists it into a new shape. With a mixture of fictional and historical characters, he takes us through the rest of the 1920's and into the 1930's. He's not afraid to knock off a character or two along the way as well, thus opening up new storylines along the way. He truly is the master of alternate history!
Michael Thompson
Jun 11, 2015 rated it liked it
You gotta read this series if you want to understand Turtledove's subsequent series taking place during WWII. Mostly politics, it shows the rise of a fascist state in the South which will lead to WWII.
Nice progression in Turtledove's alternate history now. This is probably the best in the series so far. Characters are still largely predictable but the parallels between the CSA and the Weimar Republic / Nazi Germany from history are now quite interesting.
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well thought out alternative history, though it does feel like more effort was put into developing the characters rather than the plot.

That being said, I've read this before any other books in Turtledove's alternative American history.
Peter Federman
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Finished! Next one downloaded and ready to go. I am loving the storyline but to be honest, there are some things that get too repetitive. Turtledove treats each book as if you have not read the predecessor, which seems highly unlike. Nonetheless, I am pushing on!!!
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who read the Great War series.
Another good book in a fun series. Turtledove works the period between the wars quite well. I love how the characters interact and the plots are quite interesting. This series was so enjoyable that it was worth the time spent reading as the payoff is great. I really enjoyed this series.
Will H
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The characters in this series spend all of their time doing the following three things:
(1) Recapping events that just happened
(2) Watching election returns
(3) Sex
Mar 30, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Sean Fornelli
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Second time read. I decided to go back and reread this series to get me properly into the followup books.
Richard Symonds
Ace. Dragged a bit near the end...
Mar 16, 2008 rated it liked it
This is where the series really started to drop off, by paralleling events of our time line too closely.
Jenny Richard
Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Really interesting to look at history from a new angle. I love the "what ifs"
May 10, 2013 rated it liked it
An interesting take on the years 1921-1933 in a world where the Confederate States won the American Civil War (or in this world the War of Secession).
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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

Other books in the series

American Empire (3 books)
  • Blood & Iron (American Empire, #1)
  • The Victorious Opposition (American Empire, #3)