In 1862, the Confederacy won the War of the Rebellion. The defeated North has stewed for nearly 20 years. In this alternate history, the South exercises an opportunity to purchase Sonora and Chihuahua from the bankrupt Mexican Empire, having already wrested Cuba from Spain. James G. Blaine, now president of the United States, arrogantly seizes upon this pretext and invades with the aim of reunification. Lincoln has become an outcast of the Republican Party and preaches socialism while Custer is a frustrated and embittered colonel on the frontier, Samuel Clemens a fiery newspaper editor in San Francisco, and Rosecrans the inadequate head of the Union Army. Turtledove is an accomplished professional at this sort of thing and has given us an entertainment that makes us think somewhat about why we are the way we are. Highly recommended for history, historiography, military, and popular fiction collections.
Rigorous attention to historical details combined with great storyteeling technique
historical fiction, good read, accurate
From the back cover: "1881: A generation after the South won the Civil War, America writhed once more in the bloody throes of battle." This is a sequel to Turtledove's "Guns of the South," an alternative history where the Confederacy won the War Between The States. In this novel, the two nations fight again with each other, as well as with the Apaches, French, and English.
I have read a lot of Turtledove books and this is about average, too much talk and too little action. Every one of his books seems to be written with the intention of a 10 book series.
This novel was a Main Selection of the Science Fiction Book Club.
From the master of alternate history comes an epic of the SECOND American Civil War.
1881: A generation after the South won the Civil War, America writhed once more in the bloody throes of battle. Furious over the annexation of key Mexican territory, the United States declared total war against the Confederacy once again.
But this was a new kind of war, fought on a lawless frontier where blue and gray battled not only each other, but the Apache, the outlaw, the French, and the English.
As Confederate general Stonewall Jackson again demonstrated his military expertise, the North struggled to find a leader who could prove his equal. In the SECOND War Between the States, the times, the stakes, and the battle lines had changed, and so would history.
Great books for alternate history buffs. Nobody does this genre better than Harry Turtledove. In the second war of secession the Confederate states fight the union for the second time.
Review from husband:
How Few Remain, by Harry Turtledove, is quite possibly the best alternative history book I have ever read. As a person that is rather knowledgeable about the Civil War and the people that were involved in it, this was a gem of a read. Turtledove managed to stay true to all the characters he chose to include in his book. Among the notables are Lincoln, Custer, Jackson, Douglas, Clemens, Roosevelt, Geronimo, and Stuart. Among the lesser known are Blaine, Rosecrans, Longstreet, and Alexander. If you can manage to pick out five or so of the names above, chances are, you will enjoy this book and should probably read it.
There were so many story lines going, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of them all, but they were all intriguing and for the most part, necessary. Occasionally the various story lines would cross paths with each other, but as quickly as they came together, they usually parted. Every character had at least a decent background provided for them so that if a reader was unfamiliar with a particular one, he could be brought up to speed fairly quickly on their significance. Best of all, after providing the background, the reader had a good understanding why a character chose a particular path or why they didn't.
Nothing felt too artificial or out of place in this book, as it sometimes does in other alternative history stories. Everything here fit just right, from the technology in use at the time, all the way down to the various dialects that peppered the country. I think best of all, it didn't shy away from controversial topics such as racism, slavery, antisemitism, and sex. And for the record, the racism was all encompassing; blacks hating whites, whites hating blacks, Mexicans hating Indians, Indians hating everyone, whites hating Mexicans, etc, etc.
I think best of all, Turtledove set up a rather brilliant transition into a sequel.
I'm generally partial to novels of alternate history that involve real persons (such as does this one involve Mark Twain, General Sherman and Teddy Roosevelt). However, the author has earned some chops as a relatively engaging storyteller at times. What bugged me most about the book was some of the exposition that didn't advance the plot in some way. This is the problem with "big books" (meaning those that are more than about 60,000 words). I'd rather read a well-told and ingenious story of 200 pages than one of 600 pages that just refuses to hold me.
Great book with typical Turtledove writing to hold the interest of anyone remotely interested in faux history. I would recommend this work of fiction. I liked it better than "Guns of the South". "Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest of these is it might have been"