I must say that I really enjoyed this book, and find the critisms placed in previous reviews to be rather baffeling. Particularly the comments aboust slavishly sticking to "real history".
From very early in the novel on I was gripped by Turtledoves writting and drawn back into the alternate world he has created. I must admit to being very happy with how he has drawn the media into this book, using both the radio and newspapers as tools to allow us to find out whats going on in the world (this is done by characters talking about the news from radio/ new papers not with "articles"). I also found the writting very personal and people orientated, rather than events driven as in previous books. This really did felsh out the characters who have at times in the past seemed a bit wooden, this also left with me with a genuine sense of lose when Turtledove killed off some of the veiw point characters, however I expect he will continue these threads merely picking up a new character from that group.
As for the "sticking to real history", I am in 2 minds about this. Yes he has followed "real" history and the Freedom party does bare a canny resemblance to the Nazi's, but thats as far as it goes I feel. I felt more that Turtledove is commenting on cyclical nature of History, and the enivitability of human weaknesses and follies. If you take a look at European History you can see the same patterns repeating time after time after time, the characters change, the powder keg moments differ but beyond that the same thing happens time after time. Having said all that I was slightly disappointed by the end of the novel, I was hoping that Turtledove would twist and have the USA start the fight not the CSA rather than the CSA calling the shots.
All in all I enjoyed this novel, Turtledove has slightly refreshed his cast and repositioned his key players. Now we just have to wait for the guns to fire. 4 stars rather than 5 as I can't wait for the action to start again.