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WWII Turtledovestyle Is About to Start
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.