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How Few Remain (Southern Victory) Mass Market Paperback – April 29, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In 1862, the Confederacy won the War of the Rebellion (not by interference of time travelers, as in Turtledove's Guns of the South, LJ 9/1/92, but by their own skillful military and diplomatic efforts). The defeated North has stewed for nearly 20 years. In this alternate history, the South exercises an opportunity to purchase Sonora and Chihuahua from the bankrupt Mexican Empire, having already wrested Cuba from Spain. James G. Blaine, now president of the United States, arrogantly seizes upon this pretext and invades with the aim of reunification. Lincoln has become an outcast of the Republican Party and preaches socialism while Custer is a frustrated and embittered colonel on the frontier, Samuel Clemens a fiery newspaper editor in San Francisco, and Rosecrans the inadequate head of the Union Army. Turtledove is an accomplished professional at this sort of thing and has given us an entertainment that makes us think somewhat about why we are the way we are. Highly recommended for history, historiography, military, and popular fiction collections.?Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Turtledove calls his numerous novels "alternative history." He changed the result of the Civil War by giving General Lee AK-47s in Guns of the South (1992); in Worldwar (1996), World War II came to a screeching halt as the belligerents united against alien space lizards. This current novel extends the Civil War theme. The year is 1881. Lincoln, since losing the Civil War and then the presidency, is an itinerant socialist speech-maker. In the Confederate States of America, President James Longstreet buys northern Mexico, and the U.S. president declares war, the course of which operates through several historical figures. In San Francisco, antiwar newspaper publisher Samuel Clemens talks himself out of seditious trouble with William Sherman, while the British fleet reduces the city to rubble. The British/Canadian invasion of Montana is stopped by Teddy Roosevelt, yelling "bully" constantly, and by George Custer, whose brother Tom dies, reappears, and then is later referred to as dead. The War in Mexico goes worse for the bluecoats, as would be expected, since they face the dashing, slashing J.E.B. Stuart and his "camelry" --whether their mounts are dromedaries or Bactrians is unclear. At Louisville, Stonewall Jackson reprises his successes by repelling the Union attack and capturing Frederick Douglass, war correspondent. Turtledove is successful in the plausible, albeit theatrical, characterizations of these figures, and his imaginative curiosity will appeal to the what-if segment of the vast Civil War readership, although they might trip over Tom Custer's dead-or-alive act. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Southern Victory
  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (April 29, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345406141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345406149
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,140 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By 3rdeadly3rd on September 16, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Harry Turtledove's "How Few Remain" is the first novel in his ongoing timeline dealing with an independent Confederacy winning the American Civil War in 1862. It is also, totally aside from the significance that it begins this timeline, a cracking read.

The novel begins with a brief prologue in which Robert E Lee's orders during the invasion of Virginia are not found by Union soldiers, thus allowing Lee to defeat the Union and achieve independence. We then move forward roughly twenty years, to a world which is sufficiently like the real 1880s not to be confusing, but it is still profoundly different.

This is a world in which an independent and unfriendly power lies immediately to the south of Washington DC and draws much of its strength from friendly relations with British Canada. It is a world in which Abraham Lincoln, still alive and only ever a one-term President, travels the country talking about capitalism and the proletariat. It is a world in which Samuel "Mark Twain" Clemens is a newspaperman in San Francisco.

Most importantly for the plot, it is a world in which the Confederacy has decided to purchase two large provinces from Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. The USA - under President James G Blaine - is unhappy about this.

The novel then unfolds with a series of different stories, from Clemens on the west coast to Theodore Roosevelt's adventures in Montana and Lincoln's speechmaking through to the observations of Alfred von Schlieffen in his capacity as German military attache to the USA. These stories sometimes converge, but tend to be self-contained and represent different aspects of the same events.

As previously stated, this is a fine example of alternate history and also of fiction writing.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By James Kosmicki on November 5, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is among the best alternative history novels written. Unlike Turtledove's earlier Civil War alternative history, "Guns of the South," this does not turn on a deus ex machina. There's no real science fiction gimmick in this novel, just an honest to God what-if, and a good one. What if Lee's attack on Washington DC HAD succeeded. Lee's battle plans being discovered wrapped around cigars after being dropped by a courier has always seemed like a bad plot device anyway. "Correcting" that error makes for a solid novel.
Turtledove portrays the South honestly and effectively. He is clearly against slavery, but he also understands that much of the South was fighting for what they saw as honorable intentions. He also makes some solid points about "wage-slavery" in the North. Turtledove's continued use of the Mormon uprisings in Utah works as a bit of a plot device, but it's also historically accurate.
As an English teacher with both English and history degrees, I find this sort of mind-play fascinating. The follow-up series based on a completely different World War I coming out of the consequences of this book also gets my highest recommendation.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By shsilver@ameritech.net on December 18, 1997
Format: Hardcover
There seems to have been a lot of confusion surrounding Harry Turtledove's novel, How Few Remain. Because it has an alternate Civil War as its background, many have speculated it is a sequel to his earlier Guns of the South. This speculation was fueled by an erroneous entry in Books-in-Print which listed the title of the book as Guns of the West. Similarly, How Few Remain has been linked to Turtledove's forthcoming "The Great War" series. Although it is set in the same universe as the upcoming series, it is a prelude to it and can be read, according to Turtledove, as a stand-alone novel, or in anticipation of the series.
Set in a divided North America in 1881, the Confederate States have been a separate country since Lee's victory in 1862. Unlike our world in which Lee's Special Orders 191 were lost, these orders remained secret until put into effect permitting the Confederacy to claim their independance. Much of the opening of the novel is spent explaining the details of this new world. Unfortunately, Turtledove has his characters spending way too much time going over their recent history to make their conversations seem real. Although the War of Succession was a major turning point for both countries, all the characters seem fixated on the events of the war, as if a modern person would refer to the Viet Nam war in nearly every conversation. Fortunately, this sort of dialogue mostly disappears after Turtledove defines the situation in the first fifty pages.
Although Turtledove attempts to portray the United States as a stronger country than the Confederate States, he consistently demonstrates that the Confederate States are in a stronger position. Although they may have a small population base, they have more and greater allies than the United States.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Erik Olson on August 5, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For the first 400 or so pages, "How Few Remain" flowed well -- a little difficult to follow all the different story lines, but still an entertaining and informative look at how different historical characters might have lived 20 years after the South won the the Civil War. But the last 100 pages left me feeling like I'd wasted my time, because Turtledove added them for reasons other than telling a good story.
Turtledove's greatest strength lies in the accurate historical details he presents, and this novel is no exception. It rests on the points-of-view of several famous historical people, and each is obviously well-researched, realistic and interesting. Samuel Clemens' biting sarcasm comes out in his editorials and numerous banterings with fellow newsmen; Abraham Lincoln's Socialist rhetoric is extrapolated from his real speeches and writings; George Armstrong shows the same brashness that got he and his regiment killed in our history at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
However, as the book plows on, the story loses much of its freshness and begins repeating many small details. For example, Frederick Douglass' bristling over white men's disrespect in addressing him depicted something of his character and the attitudes of the time the first few times it happened. When I was reminded for the third time that "Uncle" is less than disrespectful but well below "sir", I became annoyed.
I also question some of Turtledove's conclusions. I'll buy his means for giving the South the Civil War, but I'm uncertain how the North deteriorated so rapidly in 20 years. The North could not even manage a single victory in this second war, despite having greater manpower and more manufacturing capabilities.
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