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Stars and Stripes Forever (Stars & Stripes Forever) Hardcover – October 6, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Admirers of Harrison's West of Eden trilogy or his magisterial Dark Ages collaboration with John Holm won't be pleased by this disappointing novel of an alternate Civil War. Neither will buffs of that conflict or military historians accustomed to work at the level occupied by Harry Turtledove. Harrison's premise is that an actual historical event (the seizure of two Confederate diplomats from the British steamer Trent) leads to open war between Britain and the North. The British then attack Confederate territory by mistake, whereupon North and South join forces to give the British a royal shellacking, eventually driving them from the continent (the French Canadians form an independent republic). Harrison has thrown in some original touches, such as leading roles for John Stuart Mill and William Tecumseh Sherman. Many of the other historical characters are well handled and the burgeoning military technology of the area is explored in some detail. But the British are so consistently depicted as gross bunglers and their leaders (including a Queen Victoria straight out of Kitty Kelley) as Anglophobic stereotypes that all of Harrison's homework ends up supporting what is hardly above the level of an idiot plot. This appears to be the first of a series. Illustrations. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Another alternate-world workout from the veteran Ireland-resident American author, following his splendid Dark Ages trilogy (concluded with King and Emperor, 1996). This time, Harrison travels the high-traffic American Civil War thoroughfare. Here, as in real-world history, the Civil War is already under way when the captain of a US warship removes two Confederate bigwigs from a British vessel in international waters. Thereafter, matters diverge: in reality, a furious and minatory British diplomatic retort was toned down by Queen Victoria's beloved Prince Consort, Albert; in Harrison's version, Albert dies before he can rewrite the dispatch, leaving President Lincoln facing a senseless war with Britain. Meanwhile, thanks to several key changes in personnel, the Union's armed forces gain better equipment and grow stronger. In due course, British forces, massing in Canada, invade: predictably so, since their inflexible and conservative tactics are designed to wage not merely the previous war of 1812 but the Revolutionary War. At the same time, the iron-built Monitor and the ironclad Virginia duly clash in Hampton Roads, rendering almost the entire British Navy obsolete. Finally, a British force sent to break the Union blockade of the Gulf Coast accidentally attacks and destroys a Confederate stronghold, leaving the British commander-in-chief, the Duke of Cambridge, with no alternative (as he sees it) but to mount a full scale invasion of the CSA as well. Naturally, when attacked by a common enemy, the USA and CSA set aside their differences to deal with this new threat. Expect sequels. The best alternate worlds - such as Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee - branch off from reality at a single, precise point. Harrison's, though, involves a string of what-ifs, each more improbable than the one before. The Civil War scenario has wide, guaranteed appeal, yet savvy readers will recognize wish-fulfillment, no matter how cleverly disguised as docudrama. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this story the Trent Affair takes a left turn with the death of Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, and a very ill advised diplomatic note is delivered to President Lincoln. Not to give the whole story away suffice it to say the twists and turns of the story is historically plausible - thin in some places but does not take away from the story line.
For those the students of the Civil War (you do not have to ignore history) and those looking for a good read this is a great story
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am a lover of the alternate history genre, and you can tell when you hit gold.Read more