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If the South Had Won the Civil War Paperback – Nov 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 127 pages
  • Publisher: Forge; 1 edition (Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312869495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312869496
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 934,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

The Past is a strange place indeed . . . everything could have been so different so easily. Just a touch here and a tweak there . . . . MacKinlay Kantor, Pulitzer Price-winning author and master storyteller, shows us how the South could have won the Civil War: how two small shifts in history (as we know it) in the summer of 1863 could have turned the tide for the Confederacy. What would have happened to the Union, to Abraham Lincoln, to the people of the North and South, to the world? If the South Had Won the Civil War originally appeared in Look magazine nearly half a century ago. It immediately inspired a deluge of letters and telegrams from astonished readers, and became an American Classic overnight. Published in book form soon after, Kantor's masterpiece has been unavailable for a decade. Now, this much requested classic is once again available for a new generation of readers, and features a stunning cover by acclaimed Civil War artist Don Troiani, a new introduction by award-winning alternate history author Harry Turtledove, and fifteen superb illustrations by the incomparable Dan Nance. It all begins on that fateful afternoon of Tuesday, May 12, 1863, when a deplorable equestrian accident claims the life of General Ulysses S. Grant . . . .

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on 16 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
Long before there were all these alternative histories of the Civil War like "Guns of the South" and "Stars & Stripes in Peril," historical novelist MacKinlay Kantor, best known for "Andersonville," wrote this little volume that sketches out what would have happened with a Confederate victory. The above title might be an exaggeration, but as far as I know this was the first alternative history of the Civil War to see print. Kantor starts with a single, simple event: General Ulysses S. Grant is thrown from his horse and is killed on the first day of the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. The Army of the Tennessee does not make a come back on the second day and is destroyed. That also means Grant does not come East to take charge of all the Union armies and use the Army of the Potomac to batter Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, take Richmond, and end the war. Instead, it is Washington, D.C. and President Lincoln that are captured by the Confederates, who achieve independence.
Kantor takes the long view of what happens next: Texas breaks away from the Confederacy, the three nations fight together in various wars, while various generals become presidents of their respective countries. Ultimately Kantor's focus is more on the future of these Americans than the specifics of how the South actually wins the war. As far as Kantor is concerned the road not taken still produces a unified United States in the end. Consequently, "If the South Had Won the Civil War" is more a personal rumination along these lines than a scholarly argument. However, you have to appreciate his choice of the pivotal event, especially since he was writing at a time when it was pretty much gospel that the Confederacy's best chance was Pickett's Charge on the final day of Gettysburg.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Woollard VINE VOICE on 11 May 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this little book of 'alternative' or 'what if?' history - only 127 pages in the edition I have - and, though reading it occupies a mere hour or so, it deals with the delightful thought that 'The War for Southern Independence' might have ended much earlier, in 1863, and very differently, if a couple of relatively minor happenings had had different outcomes, and it acts as a tonic to those of us who still believe in the Southern cause. The reason I write this is because MacKinlay Kantor does not describe a victory for the old Confederacy as a triumph for illiberal white supremacists, more a rational and sensible reinstitution of peace and civilisation for both North and South. For example, one of Mr Kantor's imagined heroes is 'Rel' Stuart - Robert Edward Lee Stuart, son of General 'Jeb' Stuart - a Congressman from Virginia who becomes Governor of the C.S. State of Cuba. (That would be infinitely preferable to the Castro brothers, surely?). I won't reveal the whole of the logically and carefully crafted tale: suffice to say that the people prosper, that slavery dies a death in the late 1800s (the 'Liberation Act' being passed by the Confederate Congress in 1885, with provision for financial restitution for slave-owners), and that the old 'United States' are likely to be reunited following a conference between the Presidents respectively of the Confederate States of America, the United States of America and the Republic of Texas, at Washington, D.D. (District of Dixie) - in April, 1961, one hundred years after the firing on Fort Sumter. Relatively light reading regarding a very heavy subject - but so enjoyable!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 42 reviews
77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Brief but clever alternate history 28 Dec. 2002
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In this slim volume MacKinlay Kantor has produced an intelligent, readable history of North America if the Confederate States had won the Civil War. Written in the same style as Sobel's "For Want of a Nail", the action is presented in the form of a history text, rather than a novel in the traditional sense. So instead of characters, the reader gets footnotes and "historical" asides. It is a fascinating way to write a work of fiction, and Kantor did an admirable job of it in this instance.
He takes two near simultaneous events as his turning points: Grant's death in a horse accident prior to his capture of Vicksburg, and the rout of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg. Going forward from that point, he posits Lincoln's flight from Washington, the establishment of the Republic of Texas, and a host of other events, large and small, that lend far more realism to his allohistorical world than one might expect out of a story of less than a hundred pages.
As it happens, I think that a Civil War ending in Confederate victory would have left far more acrimony than Kantor predicts. However, it is the beauty of good alternate history that one need not agree with the author's interpretations to enjoy it. So long as the author's conclusions are well researched, logical and well argued (and that is absolutely the case in this instance) one can't take issue with them. Moreover, half the fun is stacking up your conclusions of what might have happened against the author's, and seeing how you rate.
Don't let its size fool you; "If the South Had Won the Civil War" is an intelligent, engaging alternate history. Kantor makes some genuinely fascinating leaps, and his logic and conclusions are ironclad.
Enjoy!
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Doesn't Waste Words 2 Sept. 2005
By Dai-keag-ity - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mr. Kantor's 100-page alternate reality reads like an overview from a history lesson. He tells an intelligent story of how the southern states might have come out victors in 1863, gaining independence and avoiding what would have been the final, bloodiest two years of the American Civil War.

Kantor tell of how the losses of Sherman and Grant, along with other developments (that in some cases very nearly happened) changed history and ended the war in favor of the south. He goes on to trace the history of the American nations over the next century, from the Davis, Lee, Jackson and Stuart administrations in Confederate-controlled Washington DC, thru the building of the new US capital, Columbia, in present-day Columbus, Ohio. Kantor tells of Texas' withdrawal from the Confederacy and its annexation of the Indian territory to its north. He introduces us to popular figures, like multi-term Virginia Senator Robert E. Lee Stuart, son of JEB, an extraordinary man who never existed in our own timeline. Kantor creates a believable example of the way it could have been and does a handy job of making all this interesting. Read this (in about as long as it'd take you to watch a movie of the week on TV) and you'll feel enlightened by this window into the way things nearly were.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Excellent story of What If? 13 Nov. 2004
By Paul Lappen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book looks at what would have happened if just a few things were changed during the Civil War. On May 12, 1863, near Vicksburg, Mississippi, General Ulysses S. Grant is killed in a freak equestrian accident. This seems to take the wind out of the Army of Tennessee, whose expedition had started earlier that year with such promise, but whose fortunes had been getting worse and worse. The remaining Union forces surrender to the Confederate Army at Vicksburg. Farther north, the Battle of Gettysburg truns into a defeat (perhaps slaughter is a better word) for the Union forces, who surrender to Robert E. Lee.

Word reaches President Abraham Lincoln that the end is near. On July 4, 1863, he and his family flee the White House at night, in the back of a horse-drawn ice truck. His first destination is Richmond, Virginia, where he is the "guest" of president Jefferson Davis. There is little or no looting of Washington by the advancing Confederate forces, though a number of White House items somehow make their way into Confederate homes. The looting is done by the citizens of Washington, whose name is changed from District of Columbia to District of Dixie.

America is given a chance to move the offices and documents out of Washington, and they eventually end up in the new capital of Columbus, Ohio, which is renamed Columbia. Seward's Folly, the purchase of Alaska from Russia, never happens. Throughout all of this, Texas remains independent.

In 1898, a Confederate battleship is blown up in Havana Harbor. The Confederate States declare war on Spain, and send an expeditionary force against Spanish forces in Cuba. After a successful campaign, the island is rebuilt and Cuba becomes the newest member of the Confederate States of America. Through the 20th century to the present, relations between the three countries (United States, Confederate States and Texas) are actually pretty good.

This is a fascinating book. History buffs, especially Civil-War history, need to read it. Some knowledge of history, more than the usual amount, would be a help. This is highly recommended.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Short but Thoughtful Work of Alternative History 20 Dec. 2009
By Ky. Col. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"If the South Had Won the Civil War" was a concise but very readable look back from a fictional future in which the South had defeated the Union in 1863. One of the strenghts of the book in my opinion is the fact that it possibly could have happened. Grant realistically could have died in an riding accident and Lee could have been more decisive on July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg. True, events favoring the South taken together may have been improbable, but then again, improbabilities actually occur quite often. Mackinlay Kantor goes on to speculate some of the events that could have resulted from a Confederate victory. Washington D.C. becomes a Confederate city (the Union capital moved to Ohio), Texas broke away from the Confederacy in the 1870s, slavery was eventually abolished in the 1880s as global opinion was so against the two southern nations, the explosion of a southern battleship in Havanna Harbor led to a war between Spain and the Confederacy, the three American nations fought together in the two global wars of the early-mid twentieth century, and finally the Cold War (including a still Russian Alaska)convinced the three American nations to push for reunification in the early 1960s. Interesting features of the book also include fictional footnotes from books which were never written and a short essay at the end discussing the work's conception.
Overall, the book is a fast read and very interesting. I heartily recommend it to fans of alternative history. I should point out that this is not a character driven novel; it is closer to a future reflection on a fictional past. I also wish the author had written in more detail in some instances dealing with the post-Civil War world. That said, I am still quite glad I took the time to read Kantor's work.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The beginning of it all.... 10 Feb. 2002
By Robert A. Fruge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
My interest in "what-if's..." began when I read this story in LOOK Magazine in November,1960. I read it so many times, that before I realized it, I had memorized it. I still consider it one of the best of the genre, because it is written like a history book and definitely is NOT a novel. It got me interested in history....real history. In the 60s and 70s the paperback version (slightly longer, which implied more to me that LOOK had edited it down rather than Kantor amplifiing it) could be found in every college book store. The ending was different,however, reflecting the publication date, I think. Instead of the final meeting of the three presidents on the anniversary of the firing on Ft. Sumter, it ended on December 20, 1960. "This date was suggested by President Hill because it will mark the centennial of the secession of South Carolina from the Union."
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