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American Front (The Great War, Book 1) Hardcover – May 12, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

Harry Turtledove's second multivolume saga of 20th-century "alternative history," How Few Remain, takes place in a world in which the Confederate States win the Civil War and in 1914, allied with England and France, go to war against the United States once more. All the horrors of World War I, such as trench warfare and mustard gas, are present, only this time they're situated in a North American theater of operations where the U.S. fights enemies on both its northern and southern borders while Confederate blacks, studying up on left-wing radicals Karl Marx and Abe Lincoln, prepare for the revolution. As in Turtledove's earlier Worldwar series, the majority of attention is paid to an assortment of people at the battlefields and home fronts, their stories unfolding in gradual increments that, at least so far, only intermittently connect with each other. And there's not as much in the way of "real" historical figures popping up in this first volume of The Great War series, save for cameo appearances by U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, Confederate president Woodrow Wilson, an aging General Custer, and a handful of others. It remains to be seen whether future entries in the series will feature such obvious candidates for inclusion as the young Ernest Hemingway, and how they'll appear in this strange new world. --Ron Hogan

From Publishers Weekly

This masterpiece of alternate history takes place in the same world as Turtledove's How Few Remain and begins a projected tetralogy of a First World War fought with Germany and the U.S. allied against Britain, France and the Confederacy. The reader is drawn in at once as a German cruiser approaches Boston and Jeb Stuart III trains his artillery on the Capitol Dome, and Turtledove sustains high interest throughout the lengthy narrative. As in How Few Remain, the author gives full recognition to social and economic factors (e.g., how conscription impacts politics; how labor shortages affect the position of barely emancipated blacks in the Confederacy). He also plausibly depicts the opening stages of race war. In addition, he unleashes the horrors of trench warfare on American soil and shows how an American army of occupation might look from the point of view of the occupied Canadians. With shocking vividness, Turtledove demonstrates the extreme fragility of our modern world, and how much of it has depended on a United States of America. This is state-of-the-art alternate history, nothing less. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Great War, Book 1 (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 503 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st edition (May 12, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034540615X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345406156
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart; The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance; the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, and In at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

Customer Reviews

At times his many characters can get confusing to follow at times.
Sean Satterlee
Great War: American Front is the first of three books in a trilogy, but you really must read How Few Remain beforehand.
Maddi Hausmann Sojourner
As good as Turtledove's work is, "The Great War: American Front" has some weaknesses.
Michael J. Berquist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Maddi Hausmann Sojourner on November 1, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's most unquiet on the Western Front... The Great War fought on American soil. Harry Turtledove has written a spectacular work of alternate history.
Great War: American Front is the first of three books in a trilogy, but you really must read How Few Remain beforehand. Go ahead, I'll wait. How Few Remain (HFR) gives the backstory: Confederate States defeat the USA in 1862 by not losing critical battle plans, and in 1881 the USA itches for a rematch, only to lose again. By 1911 the USA and CSA have been seperate countries for 50 years, with plenty of resentment. The USA, having been defeated twice, is not the economic powerhouse it became in our timeline.
Tensions mount between the two countries and their allies. CSA is allied with England and France, USA with Germany. The European struggle is offstage, as American Front covers the war from multiple viewpoints in North America. British Canada is invaded by the USA and becomes Occupied territory; one family secretly resists, another slowly accepts their new overlords. Utah, still a US territory because the government is still fighting the Mormons, who are being supplied with weapons from the CSA. And in the CSA, Marxism is being taught... among the ex-slaves, and the USA is running weapons to them! General Custer is observed through the eyes of his long-suffering aide, take a ride on a CSA submarine, observe enemy intelligence in a Washington DC coffeehouse.
Multiple viewpoints, numerous agendas, plenty of intrigue, and laughably bad sex scenes! What more could anyone want? And if you enjoy this book, there are two more in the Great War series, followed by three more in the American Empire series, leading up to the forthcoming American World War II!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
OK, this isn't a review so much as a warning, and it'll probably get lost among 100+ reviews, but just be aware what you're getting yourself into. This was originally going to be a four-book series but now it's SIX (two trilogies, not counting the somewhat interrelated HOW FEW REMAIN prequel).
Browse the reviews for the third and fourth (when it's out) books in the series and see if you still think it's worth your time. Like many HT series, THE GREAT WAR gets off to a great start and then quickly turns tedious and repetitive. I gave up after three books; I have better things to do with my life than slog through this stuff.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Berquist on January 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Harry Turtledove is probably the acknowledged master of alternate history fiction today. His "Guns of the South" is a classic of the genre and more recently he has turned his attention towards an interesting alternate time-line: what would the First World War have been like if the South had won the Civil War? The answer is "The Great War: American Front", as exciting and interesting a book as I have ever read.
In Turtledove's scenario, the South won the Civil War, then emerged victorious in the Second Mexican War, which saw a humbled US lose to the combined power of the CS and England. As the Great War begins, the United States is allied with Germany (and presumably Austria-Hungary, though this is not mentioned) while the Confederate States are allied with the triple powers- England, France and Russia (with Japan thrown in for good measure).
Historically, the addition of the US to the German/Austrian side would have dramatically tilted the balance of power against the triple powers. Not only would they have been deprived of American armies which contributed to the winning of the war against Germany, but England must now also contend with the American invasion of Canada and the presence of the American navy on the high seas. Indeed, it was American soldiers who helped to save the beleaguered armies of England and France in the pivotal days of 1918, when the German army came perilously close to capturing Paris and perhaps winning the war.
The events of "The Great War: American Front" are quite plausible as well. Slaves in the CS, whose position is quite like that of the serfs of Russia in 1914, take to reading Marx. The US must quell a Mormon uprising in Utah. Poison gas is used to break the stalemate in Kentucky . . .
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sean Satterlee on November 22, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My habit of reading AH began way back when I picked HT's books the Guns of the South. Since then I have read almost all of his books enthusiatically. I found this book entertaining, though not as exciting as his worldwar sagas. Turtledove does tend to get long-winded at times. Throwing in too many latin and french phrases than is necessary. At times his many characters can get confusing to follow at times. What with each one playing a small part in the book. Often I wondered if Turtledove couldn't decide what would be the major focus of the book. The humans or the war. In the end you get a little of both, and wishing you had more. You never quite know where the war is at, and how it is proceeding. Which I believe doesn't allow your imagination to start flowing with juicy ideas. Which is vital to alternate history, letting you the reading picture in your mind the ebbs and flow of combat. Since their is so many characters in this book (Probably more than in any other of his books)we are not able to follow any character for long. Which sometimes works as a good cliffhanger, but all too often leaves us asking ourselve why I should know this character. The idea as a whole is intriguing, but I think is hard for me to imagine. I don't think anybody quite pictured this what-if before. Having said all this I will still buy the the next book.
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