Sunday, June 24, 2007

Settling Accounts: In At the Death-Harry Turtledove

Settling Accounts: In At the Death
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey, Jul 2007, $26.95
ISBN: 9780345492470

Confederates States of America Brigadier General Potter knows the war they began is over with their defeat although his superior George Patton thinks they can still turn it around; Patton’s last thrust fails to stem the invading tide. Atlanta, which survived the War of Succession, the Second Mexican War, and the Great War, is not much more than rubble as their “neighbors” to the north continually bombs the key southern cities while their armies advance with brutal efficiency. Potter sadly realizes he will soon see the death of the CSA.

The United States of America with the help of their German allies has won WWII. Eight decades ago the CSA forefathers set forth to create a new great nation after winning their independence from the Union; now the CSA is no more unless President Featherstone, who egoistically started the war, uses his last weapon of mass destruction, the uranium bomb. As Featherstone ponders his legacy to bomb or not to bomb, the winners claim the spoils with the beginnings of an abusive brutal occupation while local insurgents turn to suicidal car bombings to kill the outsiders; that in turn lead to even more atrocities. The Northern Army of occupation punishes anyone southern as the victors claim that God is on their side. There is a rationalized retaliation for the mistreatment of Negroes (even as blacks up north are treated as secondary citizens).

The tenth and apparently final book in the Settling Accounts alternate history saga is a fabulous conclusion to a great series. The story line is fast-paced throughout even with the various perspectives (a trademark of Harry Turtledove), but which ending will occur as Featherstone debates using the bomb. Fans of the series will marvel at the creative exciting conclusion, but also plead with Mr. Turtledove not to stop in the 1940s; as Occupied Canada, CSA, and Utah remain fervent hotbeds for another round into the Cold War era.

Harriet Klausner

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