on July 18, 2004
In this book, Turtledove asks you to follow the stories of:
1) a revolt in Utah
2) a revolt in Texas
3) a revolt in Canada
4) some characters in Quebec
5) an increasingly powerful Confederate ruler and his cronies
6) a black family in Georgia
7) a black family in Iowa
8) a politician in New York
9) some characters in Mexico (now part of the Confederacy)
10) some US sailors in the Pacific
The sad part is, I probably missed some subplots (now that I think about it, there's a Confederate dissident who tried to assasinate the Confederate President).
Mr. Turtledove, it's OK to have multiple characters but this is ridiculous. This novel is all (literally) over the place, and by page 200 (when I stopped reading), none of the stories were converging. Also, it's intellectually lazy to take what happened in Nazi Germany and simply apply it to the South. Why not use your imagination a little and apply a different set of circumstances rather than simply channeling Adolf Hitler through Jake Featherston?
on May 23, 2004
I have read all of the "Great War" and all of the "American Empire" AH novels by Harry Turtledove , and I have just about had enough! From the novel "Breakthroughs" until this book , we have only had awfully repetitive cameo glimpses into the mundane lives of many characters who seem to have no redeeming qualities whatever.
In the present work , we finally wind up losing some non-essential personae: Nellie Semphroch(Jacobs) , Lucien Galtier , Laura Secord(Moss) , and Sylvia Enos. Some of these characters hung around waaay to long for my taste! We see Colonel Abner Dowling promoted to General officer rank and finally manages to get out of Utah.
Jake Featherston tightens his grip on the Confederacy and emulates real world Germany by the construction of concentration camps, and sets the stage for the upcoming World War II in AH time.
What I liked about the book:
(1) Gets rid of Nelly Jacobs.
(2) Starts to move towards some action in the next volume.
What I disliked about the book:
(1) Many of the statements made by the more essential players were not-so-instant replays of other scenes in earlier books.
(2) The dreadfully slow pace getting there!
Overall I liked this installment better than "The Center Cannot Hold". I suppose I will continue the series , since I am "hooked" on the essential thread. Unfortunatly Turtledove seems to have trouble finishing what he starts , as in the Worldwar/Colonization series. I rated this volume 3 stars , but doesn't come close to 4. Still , not a bad read. Certainly beats watching paint dry , anyhow.
on May 4, 2004
I read this book, like all of his books in this series with anticipation bordering on mania, however, this book falls far short. First of all, almost all of his characters are now past their prime and most seem way too shallow for me to even understand their overly slanted perspectives. For example, Mary Pomeroy is such a character. Her hate does not really resonate with the reader because it makes her so one-dimensional. Even her having a child does not alleviate this fact. Turtledove destroys many of the characters in the book as well. After all, when was Irving Morrell ever a bloodthirsty, ever angry soldier? All of the sudden, this intelligent, creative, strategic-minded soldier has become nothing short of a madman, happily punching civilians and excitedly gunning down arms runners.
Does anyone remember some of his earlier characters from this timeline? One of my alltime favorites was the godfearing Irish
<?> US soldier that carried a flamethrower into battle. I loved his point of view and perspective on life that was radically different from any others in the books. Turtledove has almost done away with telling his stories as personal vignettes and has decided instead to just 'push' history along without bothering to 'push' his characters along and truly show us their triumphs and tragedies in any emotional detail.
His book is an entertaining read; I hope that some of his characters from this series are 'retired' and new ones are brought in. After all, why bother with Canada if nothing is going to really happen in Canada. I can't imagine a full scale insurrection in a sparcely populated place as Canada when the US already has a firm foothold in the area, even if the populous US goes to war. I would love to see more of the happenings from overseas and in keeping with Turtledove's writings, ambassadors would be an excellent way of doing that.
That being said, I'll end up buying the next books in the series because I am a history buff and I still figure Harry for a few surprises and interesting twists along the way. I hope that he doesn't follow the current transparent format of overlaying 1930's Germany onto 1930's CSA and start to deviate from that norm somewhat. Will we see a Kennedy rise to power in the next series to lead the USA on its grand charge to defeat the CSA?
on February 18, 2004
The strongest outing of the "American Empire" trilogy still possesses an abundance of the flaws in logic that have marred this entire series, starting with "How Few Remain".
For those who don't know, this series kicked off with HFR, wherein the Confederacy won the Civil War, backed by Britain and France, and that a second War was lost by the USA, setting the stage for an alternate WWI, an alternate Pax Americana, and soon to come, an alternate WWII.
The Victorious Opposition is again burdened by a huge logical flaw. As Pearl Harbor and 9-11 showed, attack America and you will reap a whirlwind. Here, the Japanese bombed Los Angeles and the war ends with a treaty leaving things as if the brief war never happened.
This is just an impossibility, even by the logic of Mr. Turtledove's universe, where a revenge-driven USA has waited decades to get back at the CSA, Britain and France. The idea that any form of America would just be willing to let bygones be bygones for such an action is logically unforgiveable.
However, this sin, although it does taint this book, is a sin of the prior book in the series. Mr. Turtledove's books are always intellectually stimulating, but he does seem to have a blindspot regarding logic, as this problem, actions defying the laws of logic laid down in his own universe, is one that seems to permeate his writing.
Speaking of permeating his writings, the American version of the Holocaust, directed towards African Americans in the CSA, is well underway by this point.
When we last left our characters, Jake Featherstone had won election as President of the CSA, and was well on his way to becoming a Confederate version of Hitler. This book continues this trend, working its way up through the moment of war beginning again.
This is a true transition book, with a lot of characters dying, by various means and for various reasons. Perhaps the reason why this novel is the best of the "American Empire" books is possibly because of anticipation, an unspoiled sense of anticipation.
For we know that the next books will present a new version of WWII. As things stand now, no logical flaws yet have marred the anticipation of how Mr. Turtledove's creativity will render such an epic event.
The problem is that such an event could have only one result: a CSA, British, French, Russian and Japanese defeat. Here, Germany would not have started WWII with a subpar navy: instead, it would have been Britain and France with navies far removed from their level of greatness. By that standard alone, Great Britain would be starved out with ease.
Here, Russia is still under the Tsars. Therefore, no upheaval of the earth-shattering degrees that resulted in the Soviet Union's industrialization, which is what enabled the Soviets to hold back the Germans; plus here Germany had the lands of Poland and Ukraine under their control - much closer to Moscow. France would've had no Maginot line; France, driven by revenge after the Franco-Prussian War in our world, got their clocks cleaned by the Germans in WWI. But for the British Empire's soldiers, the Germans would've been able to outflank the Allies in the opening months of WWI, and WWI might really have been over by Christmas of 1914, with a triumphant Germany. France hasn't won a war in almost 200 years; they wouldn't be able to change that in Turtledove's universe.
Also: USA stole Japanese code secrets during the Washington Naval Treaty talks, which don't seem to have happened in this world.
The Brits got their big breakthrough on the Enigma code via Polish intelligence; here Poland is actually part of Germany.
Lastly, the CSA itself. In our world, the South of that time was well under the population of the rest of the USA. This is a difference which would have been magnified in Turtledove's universe, as immigration never ended (a Red scare was the big justification for ending open immigration). The industrialization difference even with an independent CSA, would still have been much greater than the population difference between the two countries.
The American Empire saga comes to a close, with a new saga waiting in the wings. Where logic will reside in that new series remains to be seen, but you can count on intellectual stimulation.
on January 18, 2004
Well, where do I begin?
Certainly not with 'How few Remain' no, were I to detail the series which I have forced myself through I would be here well into the darker hours of the evening. No, It suffices to say that Harry Turtledove has merely taken the histories of Germany and France and superimposed them on the Americas. The original books were really quite charming and the series has degraded since then.
Victorious Opposition is the present pinnacle of degridation. To be certain, if you began reading the series you have brought yourself here therough the Great War and American Empire Series and if you've read the rest it is a foregone conclusion that you will take this book upon yourself. It isn't a bad book... it just... lacks any originality or dynamicism that it should have.
It's good Alternate History I suppose, well, actually it isn't really, but it's ever so wearisome at this point. I wish that he would just stop writing this series, because I am shamefully addicted despite the fact that it just isn't any fun.
on January 6, 2004
The final episode in the American Empire series shifts into a higher gear as we build up to the second world war. Considering the slow pace the previous two books (Blood And Iron, and The Center Cannot Hold)had, I was quite satisfied with the more energetic pace of Victorious Opposition.
As expected, the whole storyline revolves around the imbittered receintly sworn in president of the CSA, Jake Featherston. Taking charge of the impoverished and demoralised country, he soon starts out on a programme of recovery which includes rearming the "Confederate Citrus Company" airplane fleet, a massive tractor building programme (so gaining practise mass producing tanks), conscripting a massive White only labor work force whilst taking revenge on all those who wronged him and the CSA. Taking back what is rightfully CSA property is also a priority and Kentucky is the first to return to CSA.
Basically following the lines of reality 1930's Germany, we follow the fortunes of those supporters of the Freedom Party.
Party stalwart Jefferson Pinkard ends up running a prison camp for political prisoners but soon realises that he has to take on a more challenging task, dealing with the growing numbers of Black prisoners that are arriving in their thousands as Featherston takes his revenge on them. You can see where this storyline is going...
Hipolito Rodriguez starts to enjoy the status of Freedom membership and his family are all going through the motions of Youth Squads and the benefits of belonging, however I can see a little doubt in his mind beginning to grow...watch this space.
Those who have stood against Featherston are also having to come to terms with the new order. Clarence Potter suddenly finds himself a Colonel in his old capacity of intellegence gathering after an unlikely situation that saw him attempting to take Featherston's life but saving it instead.
Anne Collerton gets her just desserts when she rejoins the Freedom Party, Featherston sends her off to France as unofficial ambassidor and keeps her well down the ranks and in her place.
Vice President Willy Knight attepts a Coup on his leader and fails dramatically. He finds himself in Pinkard's prison.
However the best moment of Featherston's revenge spree has to be the final run in with his ultimate advesary and long time reason for his bitterness, Jeb Stuart Jnr. This is one of the best highlights and reading through the sub chapter a couple of times is quite enjoyable.
The plight of the Black man in the CSA is taken up by the weary and lonely Scipio and his family. Reading his plight through this episode, one does have to remind oneself that this is the work of fiction.
In the United States and Canada, we see the end of three big characters that have been part of the scene since the beginning of WW1 (with one starting off in How Few Remain). Nellie Jacobs dies suddenly after cutting herself and getting blood poisoning as a result. She goes still hating men but tries to confess to her family about Bill Reach in her last gasps. She fails.
Sylvia Enos was the supprise death, having been accidentally shot dead by her drunk lover, Ernie who is still a fustrated man, having been injured in a very manly place while being an ambulance driver in Quebec in WW1. He was, of course, rescued by none other than Lucien Gaultier...
The swaggering Quebecouis finishes his life 'on top' however I have always found him rather a boring character. No great loss.
These three characters have their offspring to continue the storyline.
Cincinattis Driver continues to risk life to better his family's situation. His foolish return to Kentucky sees him finish this book stranded in the now CSA state.
The Military men find themselves having to catch up with the world with Abner Dowling, Irving Morrell, Sam Castern and Jonnathan Moss gearing up for the darkening clouds of wars. Moss more so for revenge as his famous wife and baby are killed by a bomb mailed to the by none other than Mary Pomeroy.
Chester Martin starts off the Union movement in California after suffering the conditions of workplace harrasment by the bosses of the huge housing project he is working in.
Flora Blackford is re-elected to congress but she is to little to late as Jake Featherston finally calls on the USA to hand back everything they took from the CSA in WW1. As the world starts falling apart in Europe the enevitable happens. On the morning of June 22 1941, Jake Featherston finally takes revenge on the USA...
All in all a much better conclusion to what was a long drawn out trilogy. The main space to watch in the upcoming WW2 series is what will Japan do.
As I have already asked in previous reviews of Harry Turtledove, a bridging Novel between How Few Remain and American front would really complete this running series of alternate North American history, prehaps this year, in the meantime lets "settle accounts"- roll on April 2004!!!
on January 3, 2004
First off, I gave this book four stars but If you are a fan of Harry Turtledove and have been following this story it could potentially be higher. This is the seventh book in the series that began with "How few remain" in which the premise of a Confederate victory with the aid of Great Britian during the civil war led to the creation of two bitter and often hateful enemies on the american continent.
Turtledove uses this novel to expand on the roles of previous characters within the series as the CSA sinks deeper and deeper into the fascist vision of the Hitler-like Jake Featherston and his Freedom Party. Using a large cast of characters, some which you may love and some you may just want to stop their whinning, Turtledove continues to flesh out the reality of this world of an america divided.
One thing I would have liked to see more of would be interaction with Europe. Throughout the series, Turtledove seems to neglect that sphere, concentrating almost too completely on North America. Despite its flaws, this book is a good read for those who have enjoyed the series thus far. For those who have not read the rest of the series, I would recommend instead starting at the beginning with "How Few Remain" or reading one of Turtledoves stand alone novels like "Ruled Brittannia"
on January 1, 2004
Harry Turtledove's novel, 'American Empire: The Victorious Opposition,' is a real turning point in the expanded series that began with 'How Few Remain.' Jake Featherston, the Confederate Hitler, has come to power in the south and is preparing for his revenge on the USA, and doesn't care who he has to hang from a meathook to get it. Blacks are rounded up and sent to concentration camps along with Featherston's political opponents, holdouts are assassinated, and barbaric party stalwarts are given free reign to spread their message of hate. All of the major characters from the prevoius novels in this series are back, some of them for the last time, and a few new characters take stage as Turtledove's gripping tale of Alternate History continues. Unlike the two proceeding novels, this one is just the right length, not so long that by the end the reader has lost interest. Also, by making Featherston's actions so sweeping, it includes almost all of the characters much more directly. Fans of the series will love this addition, and the tense ending will leave readers howling for more. Another wonderful work of Alternate History by the master.
on December 18, 2003
This book, Turtledove's seventh in this particular universe, is hardly the place to jump into this series. But, if you've read the whole series up to now, you'll want to stick with it.
Yes, some of Turtledove's characteristic flaws are here, notably replaying events from our history in a different geopolitical context rather than inventing a whole new sequence of events. Thus, we get European history between the World Wars reset in a variant North America of the same time rather than postulating, say, no wars or of more limited extent. I suspect Turtledove wanted WWI and WWII taking place in North America and built his alternate timeline to justify that. Another flaw is frequent repetition, as if they were Homeric epithets, of characters' descriptions. And, in this book, he's taken to parenthetically highlighting the moral blindness of some of his characters as if we wouldn't notice otherwise.
Yet, this series continues to hold my interest as the Confederate States of America stand-in for an aggreived Germany and Jake Featherston for Adolf Hitler. Watching several characters being co-opted into supporting the evil, "victorious opposition" of Featherston's regime is the main interest here.
The moral corruption of several of the viewpoint characters as they are co-opted by Jake Featherston is disturbingly plausible. Others, far from the South, clash violently. Some die to be replaced in their viewpoint duties by family members. There are a couple of unnamed historical cameos, and a suicidal Ernie aka Ernest Hemingway shows up again.
One story line seems a bit contrived just to get its character into trouble, and Lucien Galtier and his familial bantering still seem to have little function beyond showing us a man who has largely benefited from the Great War.
But the plight of Scipio, a black man trapped in Featherston's CSA, doesn't seem at all contrived, and his story is the most frightening as his past, his race, and his country threaten his life and his family's
As you would expect, the novel ends with the beginning of war and, no doubt, some unpleasant times ahead for all ... in the next book.
on November 26, 2003
I have gotten to the point that I don't often buy Turtledove's books any more. I read or skim them in the book store. I suppose it's interesting (and plausible) that the defeated South after a third War between the States could produce their own Hitler-analogue (such totalitarian leaders were not too uncommon throughout the world in the 1920s and '30s), but events follow real history so closely that it's more a re-telling of a known story with new characters. To me, alternate history would be more compelling if it were really alternate--if the CSA, after winning the War for Southern Independence, really did something different. Some form of WWI, and maybe even the depression and WWII would make sense, but things are too similar to be deeply intriguing. Turtledove takes some logical and interesting premises and draws them out too long.
It's good light reading, fun to follow if you're been reading the series (as I have been, despite losing my enthusiasm for it), but it's not up to Turtledove's earlier stand-alone books in most ways.