Civil War

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How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove

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How Few Remain is a pure alternative history book as opposed to alternative history blended with science fiction as in Guns of the South.  Turtledove assumes that several plausible events happened in the original Civil War, which allowed the Confederacy to win.  How Few Remain takes place twenty years after the Civil War.  The Confederacy buys Northern Mexico to enable the Confederate States of America to extend from coast to coast.  This touches off a second war between the United States of America and The Confederate States of America.  The Confederates are joined in the war by their allies England and France.

Turtledove follows the action by jumping around the country to various locales of the confrontation.  Real and imagined historical figures are woven into the story.  The action mainly focuses around:

General "Stonewall" Jackson defending the Yankee advance against Louisville
Jeb Stuart's cavalry (and camelry) launching attacks against the New Mexico territory from former Mexican provinces
Teddy Roosevelt defending Montana from a British invasion launched through Canada
Abraham Lincoln leading socialist rallies
Frederick Douglass' exploits as a war correspondent

Can the United States redeem themselves from the disgraceful loss of the first Civil War?  Will the residents of Montana end up speaking with a British accent?  Will Lincoln incite a Marxist revolt in Utah?  I couldn't wait to find out.  Turtledove weaves a fascinating "what if" scenario that is based on good research of the original Civil War.  Anyone with an interest in the Civil War should find this book fascinating.

At first I found the flow of the book slightly annoying since it keeps jumping from place to place to follow the main characters.  However, once I got used to Turtledove's style, the book flowed fairly well.  But be forewarned...if you don't remember your Civil War history, this book will leave you scratching your head wondering what was going on.  Either refresh your memory on the actual Civil War or give this book a pass.

Reviewed by: Alan

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