- Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey; Reissue edition (Sept. 1 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780345384683
- ISBN-13: 978-0345384683
- ASIN: 0345384687
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.3 x 35.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 204 g
- Average Customer Review: 101 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #213,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Guns of the South: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1 1993
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From the Inside Flap
"It is absolutely unique--without question the most fascinating Civil War novel I have ever read."
Professor James M. McPherson
Pultizer Prize-winning BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM
January 1864--General Robert E. Lee faces defeat. The Army of Northern Virginia is ragged and ill-equpped. Gettysburg has broken the back of the Confederacy and decimated its manpower.
Then, Andries Rhoodie, a strange man with an unplaceable accent, approaches Lee with an extraordinary offer. Rhoodie demonstrates an amazing rifle: Its rate of fire is incredible, its lethal efficiency breathtaking--and Rhoodie guarantees unlimited quantitites to the Confederates.
The name of the weapon is the AK-47....
Selected by the Science Fiction Book Club
A Main Selection of the Military Book Club
From the Back Cover
With the power and assurance of a master storyteller and the scrupulous accuracy of a trained historian, Harry Turtledove has created an immense, meticulously detailed, and utterly plausible world in which history takes a most unexpected turn. In The Guns of the South, Turtledove takes one of the most dramatic, bloody, and tumultuous episodes in our life as a nation, the Civil War, and vividly imagines what might have been had the rebels prevailed. In the unusually cold winter of 1864, General Robert E. Lee finds himself and his Army of Northern Virginia huddled on the banks of the Rapidan, trying to fight a war despite meager rations and a terrible lack of equipment - indeed, some of his men do not even have shoes. But when Lee finds a way to arm his forces, the tide suddenly turns; the rebels win a decisive victory at the Battle of Wilderness. Lee presses his advantage, marching on Washington. But if Lincoln surrenders, and the Confederacy can negotiate independence from the Union, there remain many obstacles to peace. The disputed states of Kentucky and Missouri must be accommodated. And the matter of slavery itself will threaten the newly independent Confederate States with fresh factional strife. Indeed, with victory come difficult choices for Robert E. Lee. War has worn down his health. His invalid wife lives for the day the two of them can finally build a peaceful life together. His days of service should be drawing to a close. Yet set against Lee's personal desires is the prospect of watching his beloved land squander the freedom that he and his men fought so desperately to win. Not for his own ambition but because duty calls, Lee will find himself faced with the price oftriumph. Mixing masterfully drawn historical and fictional characters, Turtledove brings to life the turmoil of a people in crisis. Here are the details of what it was like to fight in a Confederate army transformed from ragged to victorious: letters written home on scraps of wallpaper, "coffee" brewed from chicory and burnt grain, the fiery Battle of Wilderness, the march into Washington City and the confrontation with Lincoln, the negotiations between the United States and the Confederate States of America. Turtledove also takes us into conversations between General Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis and fascinating exchanges between Lee and Grant in their roles as keepers of the peace in a land divided. A highly original and extraordinary vision of history as it both was and could have been, The Guns of the South will take its place alongside the most exciting historical fiction ever written about the War Between the States.See all Product description
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A fair criticism can be made that this book is not alternative history in the purest sense of the word. A more common scenario in such tales might more practically be derived from something like having the South win at Gettysburg. However, the adding of an element of time travel using both racism as it survived into the 21st century as well as the introduction of technology that helps the south to overcome the overwhelming odds it faced proves effective in the author's ability to highlight the points being made. The South was fighting in many regards not only the Union but also world opinion and trends that argue poignantly that even if the South had been successful militarily, it arguably would not have been able to preserve its preexisting society.
Clearly this book helps to illustrate that Slavery was a driving force in the causes of the Civil War but that it was once cause intertwined with many issues that in the end, would have resulted in change even with another military and political outcome.
The writing is well paced, plausable with a large dose of credulity, and most of all, entertaining and well researched.
I recommend it.
Toward the end of the war, after Gettysburg, things are looking very bleak for the Confederacy. Lee knows his chances of victory are diminishing but he refuses to give in to despair. Suddenly, a mysterious stranger is brought to him, who wants to demonstrate a new weapon that he claims will change the outcome of the war. Lee is intrigued by the boastful claims and naturally interested in a "repeater" rifle perhaps even better than that of the North. Imagine his reaction to seeing the demonstation of an AK-47!!! It is too good to be true. The man tells Lee he can supply his army with ample AK-47's and ammunition to turn the tide of the war and ensure victory.
I must point out here that this book is so well written by Turtledove, the master of alternate history, that every bit of the story seems perfectly believable. The excellence of the plot is exceeded only by the superb characterization. It is classified as science fiction because the mysterious man and his entourage have come from the year 2014 to change the course of history. Unfortunately, as the story unfolds, there is increasing evidence that these men may not be the benefactors they portray themselves, but rather have a frightening agenda of their own.
There is nothing "way out" in this story, in my opinion. It is so masterfully written that there's never any thought of "Oh, c'mon...this is ridiculous!" This is one of the best novels I've ever read.
I don't want to give away ALL the plot, but one more thing I must bring up is that the book extends beyond the war to the formation of the new Confederate States, and guess who ends up running for president to succeed Jefferson Davis?
Add to all this a fully satisfying ending, and you have a book you'll close with a smile, and a wish that it could have been...
Once the Confederacy's existance is confirmed, the south becomes convulsed between Robert E. Lee who fears the Afrikaners, and General Forest, who buys into their racist doctrine. With South-African gold, modern weapons, and modern political methods, the AWB intends to ensure that the nation they preserved takes their path--no matter what they need to do.
Author Harry Turtledove narrates this fascinating alternate history through the eyes of Robert E. Lee and Sergeant Nate Caudell of the 47th North Carolina. Caudell seems caught up in most of the action--from Wilderness to Washington D.C. to the battle against AWB in their heartland, giving a close-up look at how a rapid-fire weapon could have transformed war (as indeed it has). Turtledove's Lee is a gentleman, but also a thinker who sees that the southern stand on race is wrong and destructive to the nation he has adopted, but who still carries the casual racism of his time.
THE GUNS OF THE SOUTH makes for fascinating reading. Many of Turtledove's later works adapt devices he develops here, in a setting of interest to most U.S. readers. The explicit racism of many of the characters will make some readers uncomfortable, but it is certainly an accurate reflection of the times. Some readers may also question whether AWB would do so much for the Confederacy without a more explicit promise to support its causes in the future, and wonder why it chose the southern states rather than the Boer colonies for their support, but this doesn't detract from the reader's enjoyment.
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