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Harry Turtledove's Settling Accounts

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  • Harry Turtledove's Settling Accounts

    I'm rereading HT's last four books of the Southern Victory (aka Order 191) series, the Settling Accounts tetralogy. I really love the concept of the series, an alternate WWI and II following a Southern Victory in the Civil War, where the Confederacy gains its independence with the help of Britain and France. It is really a pity that Turtledove chooses a storytelling style that doesn't appeal me - nor, I guess, a typical military buff interested in technical details.

    Turtledove, as in most of his books, follows a great number of characters, and tells the story from their point of view, avoiding any technical, tactical and operational detail beyond those in the grasp of the typical 'man in the street'. Characters themselves are poorly developed, the protagonists, from private to general, seem all to have the same cynical, 'down to earth' attitude, with the same contempt for higher military authority (and almost all of them swear like drunken sailors). Minor characters are almost comically stereotyped, scientists are tweedy bespectacled nerds, General Staff officers are all presumptuous fools and so on. There are also countless repetitions and unnecessary dialogs, where you read for the 1000th time how Confederate cigarettes are much better than US ones, or how a certain character uses zinc oxide as sunscreen because he is so fair skinned. Some military aspects are ridiculous, like a general commanding a whole army from a tank (equipped with 'fancy' radio gear...yeah right) fighting on the front line like a company commander, Yet, I still like it somehow, bc the general concept of alternate world wars following a Southern victory is so interesting. And Turtledove manages to twist and transfer aspects of OTL history into his own. For instance, the Confederate States after WWI mirror Germany in OTL. Also, he is good at describing how ordinary, initially decent people may fall into moral degradation without realizing it. I think Turtledove message is that a Confederated victory, ad thus a disunited America, would have resulted in a world worse than our own.

    It would be great if some other author managed to write a similar series of AH books using the style and thoroughness of Gingrich and Forstchen in their Gettysburg trilogy.

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