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

3.9 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Great War Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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: 0553081306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345406156
  • ASIN: 034540615X
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #874,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'll begin by saying that I love the premise of Harry Turtledove's 'Southern Victory' series; that, after the slightest change in our history (in this case, that Robert E. Lee's general Order 191 did NOT fall into US hands), the North American continent was forever split, with grave consequences for not just the USA and the CSA but for the world in general. In this particular volume, for example, the Great War comes to North America, with trench lines being drawn across the content, and the USA squeezed between the CSA and Canada. In this timeline, however, Great Britain, France, Russia, and Japan are allied with the CSA, while the USA finds allies in Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Along with the ongoing war, there are quite a few side stories, such as the growth of the Socialist Party in the USA, the beginnings of an African-American revolt in the CSA, and the lives of civilians during the conflict. It's interesting stuff, of that there's no doubt.

The problem, however, is that events hew surprisingly close to our timeline's major events. Here, we still have a Great War, despite a very different world stage, one without a single, unified US. We still have the same kinds of inventions that occur at the same approximate times, like the automobile and the airplane. Many of the same politicians have come to power as well; Teddy Roosevelt was obviously headed for the Presidency of the USA, given his role in the previous book in this series. Woodrow Wilson, however, is here cast as the President of the CSA, a role that seems apt given his opinions on race. Still though, it's odd that so many of the same major figures still end up essentially where they did in our timeline.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first alternate history book I ever read was ‘How Few Remain’ – the book that preceded this one and I was hooked. I became enthralled with alternate history. I have always been a student of history, but there is something romantic about the question of “What could have been?” and Harry Turtledove is the master of such a question.
This story begins thirty-two years after the War of Succession splitting the United States into the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. Just like in our time line, the First World War starts in Europe and the dominoes of allies and foes begin to fall. The CSA has an alliance with Britain and France and the United States with Germany. When those countries begin to fight, it draws the opposing sides in the Americas into the battle unleashing hatred and resentment brought on by the War of Succession. This also leads to war between the United States and Canada.
For those that have not read the series, I will stop here and just tell you that this book expands into two more, then another three, finally ending in a four book series. With a slight exception of the American Empire series, which gives you a look in between wars and shows how characters from the first series make their lives and slows down the series momentum, I recommend all the books to this series.
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