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The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove

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  • The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove

    Now this is an interesting book. I'm a huge fan of Harry Turtledove's Alternate History, especially his Darkness Series, Southern Victory and Atlantis Series.

    This is what the back blurb says:

    January 1864- General Robert E. Lee faces defeat. The Army of Northern Virginia is ragged and ill equipped. Gettysburg has broken the back of the Confederacy and decimated its manpower.

    Then Andries Rhoodie, a strange man with an unplaceable accent, approaches Lee with an extraordinary offer. Rhoodie demonstrates an amazing rifle: Its rate of fire incredible, its lethal efficiency breathtaking- and Rhoodie grantees unlimited quantities to the Confederation.

    The name of the weapon is the AK-47....


    Interesting huh? My kind of Alternate History.
    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."

    -Winston Churchill

  • #2
    Originally posted by CouldUseACigar View Post

    Interesting huh? My kind of Alternate History.
    I had started this book but I am sorry to report that I had not finished it (not a bad reflection on the book - I just got distracted and lost the book).

    I did find the premise interesting especially with Lee being a central character. And I appreciated the political depth that Turtledove was exploring with the Confederate victory.

    Spoiler Alert!!! - I recall the scene when the White House was stormed by Confederate troops yet they allowed Lincoln to leave unmolested - out of history to live a long and obscure life.

    I will see if I can get a copy of the book at my local library and finish it. Thanks for sharing this.

    Bob

    Update - I checked my library but the book has been taken out for a few weeks. I'll have to wait.
    Last edited by rcleary171; 27 Dec 12, 14:00.

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    • #3
      I read it awhile back...not too bad.
      SGT, 210th MP Battalion, 2nd MP BDE, MSSG

      Fervently PRO-TRUMP, anti-Islam and anti-Steelers!

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      • #4
        And that is the best that can be said about it.
        Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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        • #5
          This novel was Turtledove's first big hit. As a work of science fiction, it's pretty good.... but that is the important thing to remember about Turtledove. He writes science fiction set in the past.

          "Master of Alternate History" my ass. For a guy with a PhD, he makes a lot of really implausible leaps, sloppy characterizations, and just altogether bad assertions. As fantasy or science fiction, OK, but as historical fiction? No way.

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          • #6
            Turtledove isn't bad as long as one knows that it is AH. He is just a bit long winded to me. Sort of like reading a lodestar post.
            "Ask not what your country can do for you"

            Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

            you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
              Turtledove isn't bad as long as one knows that it is AH. He is just a bit long winded to me. Sort of like reading a lodestar post.
              I agree some times he puts me to sleep

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              • #8
                Originally posted by JWalters View Post
                This novel was Turtledove's first big hit. As a work of science fiction, it's pretty good.... but that is the important thing to remember about Turtledove. He writes science fiction set in the past.

                "Master of Alternate History" my ass. For a guy with a PhD, he makes a lot of really implausible leaps, sloppy characterizations, and just altogether bad assertions. As fantasy or science fiction, OK, but as historical fiction? No way.

                Well you do have to remember that his PhD is in Byzantine history, no doubt it is immensely useful.
                Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tsar View Post
                  Well you do have to remember that his PhD is in Byzantine history, no doubt it is immensely useful.
                  What is your PhD in?
                  "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                  Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                  you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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                  • #10
                    Put off by the sci fi aspect really, that makes it less AH more sci fi in my opinion. I've not read a good alternate history for a long time, the last I read was the 'what if' book and it's sequel ( http://www.amazon.com/What-If-Foremo.../dp/0425176428) , is the rest of Turtledove like Guns of the South? I've read a couple of very basic reviews of what some of his Civil War stuff is about, as I was after counterfactuals/alternates in which Napoleon III and possibly the UK, become involved in the Civil War.

                    His PHD in history (albeit Byzantine) should give him a comprehension of the forces which shape history. Though presumably this stuff is mostly fiction for the consumption of readers, and is designed to be enjoyable so it's not going to stick too much to an academic approach?
                    ------
                    'I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.' - Thomas Jefferson

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CouldUseACigar View Post
                      Now this is an interesting book. I'm a huge fan of Harry Turtledove's Alternate History, especially his Darkness Series, Southern Victory and Atlantis Series.

                      This is what the back blurb says:

                      January 1864- General Robert E. Lee faces defeat. The Army of Northern Virginia is ragged and ill equipped. Gettysburg has broken the back of the Confederacy and decimated its manpower.

                      Then Andries Rhoodie, a strange man with an unplaceable accent, approaches Lee with an extraordinary offer. Rhoodie demonstrates an amazing rifle: Its rate of fire incredible, its lethal efficiency breathtaking- and Rhoodie grantees unlimited quantities to the Confederation.

                      The name of the weapon is the AK-47....


                      Interesting huh? My kind of Alternate History.
                      Alternative history? ...almost but the AK-47 was a Morse carbine.

                      My worst jump story:
                      My 13th jump was on the 13th day of the month, aircraft number 013.
                      As recorded on my DA Form 1307 Individual Jump Log.
                      No lie.

                      ~
                      "Everything looks all right. Have a good jump, eh."
                      -2 Commando Jumpmaster

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                        What is your PhD in?

                        Information technology.
                        Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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                        • #13
                          Security Studies. In other words, war and spying. One of the master's before it was in history.

                          Let's take one example. One of the things I've always objected to in that book "How Few Remain," which is about another North vs. South war in the 1880s, is the notion that the United States would sit around innocently and naively in a state of semi-disarmament, while the South built itself up to the point of fighting on equal terms.

                          The problem there is that it takes the fact that the U.S. was basically an unarmed state in peacetime until the Cold War and applies it without asking why... namely, we had no real enemies capable of threatening us. That wouldn't exactly be true if the U.S.A. had a C.S.A. on its doorstep, doubly not true if that C.S.A. had formal military alliances with the UK and France, and triply not true if the U.S.A. had lost a war to the C.S.A.

                          It's just too much, way too much. Anyone who spent three years hanging out in a university history department working on a mere BA ought to have been able to string those points together. Furthermore, Turtledove didn't necessarily need to make the political leadership of the United States effectively RETARDED to tell the story he wanted to tell. And that is the biggest sin of all: taking a big, giant sh*t on the facts when you don't have to.

                          So, when you consider that his fiction is bad history, it can't be historical fiction. Ergo, it's not really alternative history. It's science fiction or fantasy. And he is a science fiction/fantasy writer. It's what he did for decades before producing those Southern Victory books; Guns of the South has time travel in it (!!!); most of his books, whatever else they might have, feature things like alien invasions.

                          Fatherland is real alternative history. Gettysburg is real alternative history. Nothing Turtledove has ever written has been real alternative history.

                          This isn't a judgement on whether or not he is entertaining. That is a matter of taste, and hey, what a man likes is what a man likes. But you can get objective about whether the kettle is made of iron, copper, or stainless steel.

                          Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                          What is your PhD in?
                          Last edited by JWalters; 31 Mar 13, 04:51.

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                          • #14
                            The 'Southern Victory' series had so much potential as a concept, but it quickly turned into a bad thread on the Alternate Timelines sub-forum on this board and it spiraled out of control from there to its nuclear war climax. I understand what he was doing, but did we really need basically the real WW1-Interbellum-WW2 story being told with cartoon like characters but with the setting changed to North America?

                            Concept was pretty good, execution was god-awful.
                            Кто там?
                            Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
                            Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

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                            • #15
                              Yeap. I think overall the idea of Confederate independence and how that would play out in world affairs with WW1 and WW2 is a good one, and worth a serious series of novels. Yet when it comes to Turtledove's treatment, I think the kindest thing that could be said of it is "unimaginative."

                              Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
                              The 'Southern Victory' series had so much potential as a concept, but it quickly turned into a bad thread on the Alternate Timelines sub-forum on this board and it spiraled out of control from there to its nuclear war climax. I understand what he was doing, but did we really need basically the real WW1-Interbellum-WW2 story being told with cartoon like characters but with the setting changed to North America?

                              Concept was pretty good, execution was god-awful.

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