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The Center Cannot Hold (American Empire, Book Two) (Southern Victory: American Empire) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2003


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The Center Cannot Hold (American Empire, Book Two) (Southern Victory: American Empire) + The Victorious Opposition (American Empire, Book Three) (Southern Victory: American Empire) + American Empire: Blood & Iron
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Product Details

  • Series: Southern Victory: American Empire
  • Mass Market Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345444221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345444226
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At its best, alternate history holds a mirror to our society, allowing us to understand our own past by examining hypothetical responses to similar but altered conditions in real or imagined worlds. In the latest installment of his retelling of the world wars, American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold, Harry Turtledove demonstrates convincingly how a native fascist ideology could spring up in a defeated Confederacy, as well as how economic conditions can develop independent of government policies.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As Jake Featherston campaigns his way across the Confederate States of America (CSA) in the name of his militant Freedom Party, other forces in the world are preparing to move against the CSA's northern neighbor, the hated United States. Set in a North American continent divided into two American nations and an occupied Canada, the sequel to American Empire: Blood & Iron continues an American history that might have happened. Turtledove never tires of exploring the paths not taken, bringing to his storytelling a prodigious knowledge of his subject and a profound understanding of human sensibilities and motivations. For most libraries. [For more alternative history, see Worlds That Weren't, a collection of novellas by Turtledove and others, reviewed on p. 127. - Ed.]
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

Without giving too much away, let me just say it makes a powerful statement about life and death.
Mike Culp
The CSA, having staggered earlier in the decade under the blows of subordination to the USA's will and hyperinflation, is just now recovering from the Great War.
Justin E. Lay
Decent story, a little slow, but also one of the most annoying series becuase he repeats things over and over.
Gallantfurr

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on August 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the second book in the American Empire series. It is also a much better one than the first. It does, however, have many of the previous book's faults.
The improvement between this book and the first in the series is very noticeable. However, it is difficult to quantify. One of my main complaints against the first book was that the "alternate" part of this history was too reminiscent of real history: the Freedom Party was a poor man's Nazi Party, the massive inflation that hit the Confederacy was exactly the way it happened in real-world Germany after the First World War. The Center Cannot Hold does a much better job of making things different and interesting. There is a rebellion in Canada, tensions start flaring up between the Japanese and the United States. A civil war erupts in Mexico. All of this is wonderful news to the alternate history fan. This is what we like. Sure, some events are still the same (the Freedom Party is still the Nazi party, the Depression happens just like it did in reality), but there are enough differences this time to make it harder to guess what's going to happen.
With all that being said, there are still numerous faults in this book, which makes it so that I have to qualify my recommendation. The writing is still very bland and boring at times. Turtledove still has an annoying habit of emphasizing things by repeating them. Every time we see Nellie Jacobs, there is some reference to her having killed the father or her oldest daughter in the previous series. There is always a reference to how she really distrusts men, with the occasional reference to how this isn't quite always the case with her current husband, but still is most of the time. It gets really old, really fast.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mike Culp on June 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Harry Turtledove's Great War-American Empire series is a masterwork of alternate history, and although I was only moderately impressed with Blood and Iron, I still rushed to buy The Center Cannot Hold. Although the timeline is fascinating, the novel itself is uneven. Certain sections are a great read, such as Jake Featherston's reemergence as a political force in Confederate politics, and Chester Martin's continuing portrayal of the Yankee proletarian. However, now that the war is over, most of the book's length is devoted to each character from the Great War going to work, getting married, having babies, or dropping dead. The way the books jump around from character to character, combined with this book's tendency to jump from year to year, makes each person's life a blur of non-importance that the reader cannot associate with. The reader's past involvement with these characters in life-and-death situations contributes further to the grinding mundanity of the characters' post-war lives.
Turtledove rushes through the politics of each election to the point where nothing at all surprises the reader. The U.S.-Japanese war comes across as a half-assed scheme to knock some Great War-style excitement into the book halfway through, but the chronological mandate of the story compels Turtledove to zip through any combat between the two powers in order to fit in more and more elections.
A few bright spots: Turtledove does go into further detail regarding the worldwide effect of the German-U.S. victory in Europe and Asia. The demise of one of my favorite Confederates at the hands of some Freedom Party yokels was really touching. Without giving too much away, let me just say it makes a powerful statement about life and death.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Faerseth on January 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The second part of Turtledove's yet unfinished American Empire trilogy is a distinct upturn from the last one, Blood and Iron. It continues the saga of begun in How Few Remain and continued in the Great War trilogy, and we continue to follow some of the characters into the 20's and 30's.
For new readers, this is an ongoing chronicle of an alternative world in which the Confederate States of America managed to gain independence from the US, later to join with Britain and France against Germany and the United States in World War I.
Blood and Iron, its predecessor, consentrated on too many characters over too long time and as a result became a bit too patchy at times. The Center Cannot Hold continues this trend in the first half, leading up to the Great Depression, from which the book changes greatly in style and quality. It focuses from there on the Freedom Party's quick rise to power in the CSA, closely following that of Hitler in our own world. We view this process both from the top, as seen through the eyes of chairman Jake Featherstone, and from the literally bottom, as experienced by Hippolyto Rodriguez, a poor peasant from the backward Confederate region of Sonora who gradually becomes enticed by the party's message of "getting even".
Unlike Blood and Iron, which left me rather disappointed, The Center Cannot Hold has left me truly looking forward to the next chapter of this saga.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul on December 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This series started with "How Few Remain", which had the South winning the Civil War, aligning with France and Britain to humiliate the North in a 2nd Civil War, similiar to the Franco-Prussian War.
This series is intelligently written. It's flaws have been Turtledove's meandering style of visiting a character for a couple of pages to see how the world has been impacting that character, and to reveal through that character what had been happening in the world; and the fact that Turtledove all too often has his characters and world perform unrealistic actions based upon the author's need to take his story in certain directions.
Both of these flaws are evident here, although one flaw is greater than the other. In this instance, the flaw is the unrelaistic actions which occur in this book.
A dwindling number of readers might remember Pearl Harbor. Most should remember the events of 9/11. In both instances, the USA united demanding vengence on the attacker. Therefore, if a foreign power attacks the USA, it is to be expected that the American reaction will be one of outrage and a quest for vengence.
Well, not in this book. Los Angels is bombed by the Japanese (for reasons which remain unkown) and the reaction of the USA seems to be pretty much of a yawn. This is just absurd.
As matters stand at the start of this book, the USA and it's ally, Germany, remain victorious in this world's equivalent of WWI, having defeated the CSA, Britain and France. Disgruntled Confederate soldier Jake Featherstone was well on his way to becoming the Adolf Hitler of the CSA, when his plans were derailed by an unauthorized assassin's killing of the president of the CSA. Covering a period of about 10 years, we witness the Great Depression of this world, which results in absurdities.
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