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The Book Nook: "The Guns of the South" (Harry Turtledove)


As a student of history, it's interesting sometimes to ponder the what might've happened if a particular event in our history had gone differently.  Harry Turtledove has made a living of doing just that- with The Civil War being one of them...

The United States is divided, and in the throes of civil war.  The Confederate States are losing and desperate to gain the upper hand.  One day, a strange group of men appear with combat training and weaponry that shouldn't- and wouldn't exist for a century.  Will these strangers help General Lee bring about the future he envisions... or plunge them into something even worse...?

"The Guns of the South" is a fascinating sci-fi/historical fiction novel that takes the events of The Civil War, and turns it on its head.  I loved that it didn't just cover the events of the war itself, but also the events stemming from it.  This book is really quite evocative of the era, settings, and people.  The message is also simple and clear: regardless of the actions of fanatics pushing an agenda of hatred, violence, and racism- humanity will rebel, and progress towards a morally better place.  Reason and respect will ultimately make us better.

Turtledove does an excellent job of populating this book with believable and relatable characters.  General Lee, and the mysterious Andries Rhoodie are great characters, and their relationship evolves in a wonderful and interesting way.  Lee in fact is one of the most engrossing characters I've ever read in a book of this nature- especially as we get to watch how his views on "Southern Values" changes over the course of the book.

If you ever get the chance, absolutely pick up Harry Turtledove's "The Guns of the South".  I give it a "Good."


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