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The Confederate States of America: What Might Have Been Paperback – October 17, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (October 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393329119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393329117
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Roger L. Ransom is professor of history and economics at the University of California, Riverside. He is coauthor of the groundbreaking work One Kind of Freedom: The Economic Consequences of Emancipation.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Michael B. King on July 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Roger Ransom has written one of the most provocative efforts in the field of counterfactual speculation which I have had the chance to read. Taking as his challenge the well-plowed ground of the American Civil War, Professor Ransom has managed to offer a series of genuinely innovative insights into the possible result of a Confederate victory. Rather than picking one "point of divergence," Ransom instead opts for what one might call a "semi-chaotic collage" of mutually reinforcing changes, resulting in a military stalemate in 1864 that in turn produces a collapse of the North's political will to continue the fight. The changes hypothesized are plausible, and their "snowballing" effect makes a good case for Ransom's basic thesis that the South's best chance for victory lay in an improved performance by the Confederacy's Western and Eastern forces, combined. The true strength of Ransom's work, however, does not lie in its narrative describing the battlefield course of (yet another) alternate American Civil War. Rather, it is in the analysis of the possible consequences of a Southern victory, and particularly the international consequences of a division of the North American Continent between two rival American Unions, where this alternate history truly excels. Professor Ransom describes how the ensuing rivalry between USA and CSA would have affected the relationships between the Great Powers of Europe, as they are drawn into the USA-CSA rivalry, and for reasons of their own vital interests.Read more ›
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Rampulla Gaetano Igor on November 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I first purchased this book I thought I was going to read yet another "what if" story of the South winning the American Civil War, maybe with some new idea but basically with the same pattern already seen in other such products.

Thus I was very satisfied when, page after page, I found solid facts in the first chapters concerning the "why" and the "how" the Civil War came to happen (together with a brief conduct of the real war itself), followed by the "story" of an alternate Civil War based on those same facts but ending with a Confederate victory. Most important, the author finally deals with the aftermath of a Confederate victory, both from a political and economical point of view (something not easily found in other such products) trying to draw conclusions based on various possible alternatives.

I found the presence of verifible figures and hard data very helpful to fully understand a chapter of American history that I, as an Italian reader, did not know but was eager to analyze.

I found the book very well written, easy to follow, and enough imaginative in the chapter concerning the "other war" to satisfy my anticipations, but most of all I found it indispensable to fill in my gaps about that part of world history that I could not study in Italy.

All in all a very good product, I would surely recommend it to all lovers of real and fictional history.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful By C. Hutton on May 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Roger Ransom has written an academic exercise showing how the South could had defeated the North during the Civil War (Stonewall Jackson surviving his wound and General Lee calling off Pickett's Charge, so that the war would be a stalemate for the 1864 elections).

The first half of the book is a basic primer on the background and events leading up to the Civil War. The more interesting section that follows is too short -- the alternative history of two nations (USA and CSA) co-existing in America up until 1918. For example, Mr. Ransom hypothesises that Woodrow Wilson of the CSA would have opposed Theodore Roosevelt of the USA during WW I.

This "what if" concept was done first and better by Harry Turtledove in his 8 volume series that currently stretches from 1862-1942 (begining with "How Few Remain"). Many of his historical assumptions seemed to be borrowed from the previous creations of Mr. Turtledove. The reader is also referred to "Dixie Victorious" edited by Peter Tsouras with ten essays by different authors on possible turning points for a Southern victory in the Civil War.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joseph R. Goldman on September 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a solid, well-thought out "what might have been" study that goes beyond the sensational or the mythical. Here the reader is treated to the political history of the Confederate States of America as it might evolve. Almost 50 years ago McKinley Kantor penned one of the best pioneering works on the question "what if the South won in 1865?" (he has the North and South reunited by 1915 in the face of WWI and the growing threat to both side-by-side Americas); it also was an excellent political and military "first cut" to a fascinating subject not only for Civil War buffs but any one interested in "Alternative History".

Ransom's book is plausible in its projections based on the facts of the early formation and struggle by the CSA to become independent. He provides controversial thinking on what might happen if the CSA were successful, but his line of reasoning is what makes the book engaging and thoughtful. Ransom writes a good read, and the scholarship is of the quality to be quoted in other similar, high-quality studies.

Joseph Richard Goldman
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