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Bring the Jubilee Paperback – January 1, 2009
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From the Inside Flap
"[WARD MOORE IS] ONE OF THE BEST AMERICAN WRITERS."
The United States never recovered from The War for Southern Independence. While the neighboring Confederacy enjoyed the prosperity of the victor, the U.S. struggled through poverty, violence, and a nationwide depression.
The Industrial Revolution never occurred here, and so, well into the 1950s, the nation remained one of horse-drawn wagons, gaslight, highwaymen, and secret armies. This was home for Hodgins McCormick Backmaker, whose sole desire was the pursuit of knowledge. This, he felt, would spirit him away from the squalor and violence.
Disastrously, Hodgins became embroiled in the clandestine schemes of the outlaw Grand Army, from which he fled in search of a haven. But he was to discover that no place could fully protect him from the world and its dangerous realities. . . .
"The Civil War has been often rethought, most effectively in Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee."
--Donald E. Westlake
The New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
* #42 in the Millennium SF Masterworks series, a library of the finest science fiction ever written. * 'Seminal ... concise and elegiac' Encylopedia of Science Fiction * 'A classic alternative world story' Brian Aldiss * 'One of the best American writers' Ray Bradbury --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I was a little disappointed that the pace of the book was somewhat slow. I thought that it took interminably too long for the book to get around to explaining HOW the author starts the book writing from 1877 (The majority of the book takes place in the alternative history of a defunct USA after the South had won Independence and stays mostly in 1920 to 30s). It's not until almost the end of the book that the story explains HOW the author came to be writing his story from 1877 (weird twist, but somewhat expected due to the opening sentence of the book).
Most of the book follows Hodgins "Hodge" McCormick Backmaker, of Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County, New York (aside: that's why I bought it, the location of his birth; another aside: why that town, my own reasons), and his life in a USA where the CSA won the battle of Gettysburg. Why? The CSA occupied the Round Tops. Hodge discusses his life, his loves, his friendships, the growth of his philosophy, his travel to a college-like-commune called Haggershaven near Gettysburg, and his becoming a historian. (One of the few novels with a historian as hero.)
I can't give away the story, but it seems mostly reasonable. (No "machine guns for Lee" scenarios.) There are some stretches here and there (I don't think the CSA would control all of Latin America, nor do I think that the USA would be so depressed economically.) The story of Hodge is the main driver here. He's an empathetic protagonist.
For many, the lack of battlefield drama or in-depth discussions of the alternate history of the USA, CSA, and the world will be a turn-off. The history of the alternate timeline is mainly thrown out as tidbits in Hodge's autobiographical narrative. The CSA's victory at Gettysburg is only dealt with in a few paragraphs; it's defeat at Gettysburg in one short chapter. (Comparing it to, say, Turtledove would do it an injustice.) This dates from 1953 and was one of the early and important ones. Remember that.
Decent all around. A quick read. A few typos in the text.