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Back in the USSA Hardcover – Oct 1997


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Mark V. Ziesing (Oct. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0929480848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0929480848
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 17.5 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,614,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
While it's adequately believable as alternate history, "Back in the USSA" is primarily satire. The role reversal between USA and USSR puts a mirror to the real world: to especially telling effect when there's no change. For instance, "In the Air" has a lot to say about the double standard that makes people see identical behaviour - platoons of children in military uniform honouring war heroes, and saluting the flag - as healthy patriotism in their own country, but sinister militaristic indoctrination in another. Other targets are the US Vietnam movie mythos ("Teddy Bears' Picnic" features classic English comic characters conscripted to a British Indochina war); British royalty ("Abdication Street" is a bad-taste mimic of the Charles/Diana wedding); and the late tycoon Robert Maxwell. This may not be to your taste; many of the TV and movie in-jokes are far more accessible to UK readers. But if it is, you'll find it a wonderfuly dark and witty take on the major events of this century.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Jun. 1998
Format: Hardcover
The premise is that Teddy Roosevelt was assassinated by Annie Oakley after a successful presidential win by the Bull Moose Party. His Vice President, millionaire Charles Foster Kane (yes, watch out for the fictional characters who appear in the narrative as well as the historical ones who appear in new personnas), plunges the USA into a disastrous early entry into the Great War. This leads to a violent Revolution and the establishment of of a new Socialist state in America, while Russia evolves into a constitutional monarchy.
This is quite a trip! The book is told in the form of separate narratives, from the young Buddy Holly under the regime of Chairman Capone (the USSA's Stalin), a wonderland mirror version of the Untouchables and the Grapes of Wrath, a tale about Ed Gein coldcut supplier to the Party big-wigs, the British experience in the Vietnam War ("Teddy Bears Picnic" -- a wonderful sequence), television under the csar during a Royal Wedding, and much more.
Newman and Byrne are mishugah, and I like it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Mar. 1999
Format: Hardcover
This novel is a complete trip thru the history of the United Socialist States of America. You heard me correct, Eugene Debs lead a revolution and established a socialist republic during WW1. Byrne and Newman paint a vivid picture of an America that could have been. Their use of characters both real as well as fictional is incredible. This is a must read for anyone interested in Alternative History. It is much more than a novel. This book deals with British and Russian involvement in the Vietnam War, the Great Purges of Capone's dictatorship, to the creation of the Common Wealth of Independent North American States. I highly recommend it to anyone.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Hall on 5 Nov. 2003
Format: Hardcover
How can you not love a book with an episode set in Vietnam (as fought by the British) where the heroes/anti-heroes are the Likely Lads, Jennings and Darbyshire and Just William, culminating in an Apocalypse Now type film directed by Michael Powell featuring choppers playing "teddy-bear's picnic"? As any fule kno, nobody does this better than Kim Newman - "Mekon don't play cricket"! To those who complain that the allusions are too abstruse, I would say, that is precisely the joy of alternative history. The characters are put in new situations but react exactly as they would have in real life. I urge Newman and Byrne to write some more, soon!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
While a readily believable alternate history, "Back in the USSA" uses this scenario as a vehicle for a wonderfully dark and funny satire on the 20th century. "In the Air", featuring the young Buddy Holly, hints at a double standard that makes it fine and patriotic in our own country for boys to dress in mock-military uniform and revere the flag, yet a sign of sinister indoctrination when we see other cultures doing it. "Teddy Bears' Picnic" punctures war myths, showing both how cinema distorts and glorifies war, and how war fiction loses all gloss when the noble stereotypes are replaced by the reality of mundane little people caught up by conscription. It's a pity that it came out in the USA first, as while the America-based stories are accessible to anyone with reasonable general knowledge, it's hard to imagine that US readers would get in full the surreal flavour of "Teddy Bears' Picnic": an alternate Vietnam scenario populated with British comic characters such as the Likely Lads, Frank Spencer, the Reverend Noote and Nigel Molesworth.
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