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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Unabridged edition (2 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400107830
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400107834
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.8 x 13.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,271,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart; The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance; the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, and In at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Second in the "Atlantis" series from Harry Turtledove. This book follows on from "Opening Atlantis" and essentially tells the story of the American War of Independence but translates it onto an island in the mid Atlantic.

Certain real historical individals, particlarly Generals Howe, Cornwallis, and the Marquis de Lafeyette, play more or less the same roles fighting for or against the independence of the island of Atlantis which in real history they played in that of the American colonies: Cornwallis in particular has an almost exact match with his historical role but a thousand miles South-East.

Another historical character, Tom Paine, is given his real historical role but with a twist: initially serving in the rebel army in Atlantis, he is sent to "Terranova," e.g. North America, by the figure who plays the role for Atlantis which George Washington played for the US in real history. His mission is to stir up the colonists in "Terranova" so that they will also rebel, keeping the forces of the British crown busy putting two rebellions down rather than one.

Paine succeeds, but one mildly irritating missed opportunity in the book is that we never hear what impact, if any, the rebellion in Atlantis has on the outcome of the rebellion in America. After the equivalent of Yorktown the coda of the book has the Crown make peace with the colonies in Atlantis: when I was reading this book I was left to wonder whether the colonists in "Terranova" also win independence and noted that this was nowhere stated in the book.

In fact, in the scene setting at the start of the third book in the series, "
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tapner TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Jun. 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Second in a series of books from Harry Turtledove, who writes a lot of alternate history novels, telling of the continent of Atlantis. This series takes known history from the middle ages on and writes about how things might have turned out if there was a huge continental sized land mass in the middle of the atlantic ocean, in between what we know as Britain and America.

The story began in Opening Atlantis and that covered the first few centuries of life there, seen through the eyes of one family and it's descendants. This book can be gotten into though if you haven't read the first one, as it stands pretty much on it's own and there's enough exposition to bring new readers up to speed.

Alternate histories can also parallel real histories to a great extent, and what this does is tell the tale of the American Revolution as it it had happened on Atlantis. With the locals tired of the taxes of the British King, they finally rebel and fight for their own independence. One war hero [who featured in the previous book] ends up leading the army.

It's a tricky war, fought in times with no satellites and mobile communications so neither side can ever be entirely sure where their opponents are and what they are up to. All this plus the fact that the locals have to fight with poorly equipped and untrained recruits, and in some rather tricky landscapes, is well described. This is war as it would have been at the time.

The writer always produces very readable prose, and manages the same here, making for pages that turn quickly enough.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 32 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing. 28 Feb. 2009
By Warren Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed most of the first book in this series, but I noted in my review that the last section was little more than a retelling of the French and Indian War in our own timeline. To me, this is lazy alternate history, if you can even call it alternate history at all; nothing has changed except the setting and the characters, after all. It's straight fiction. If it was being sold as straight fiction, then it would be better; as it is, it's not alternate history.

But I held out hope that the next book would be different. Then I saw the title, and began to dread reading the book. I checked it out of the library, though (as I did the first one), and settled in for a read.

I won't be finishing this one. It is a fictionalized retelling of the American Revolution. It got to the point where I was writing down the parallels with our own timeline on a slip of paper I had with me. There's the Ben Franklin character, the Sam Adams firebrand patriot character, and the George Washington "unwilling general" character. I'm not very far in, and I can already predict how it's going to play out.

I love Turtledove's books. I enjoyed Ruled Brittania. I enjoyed In the Presence of My Enemies. I enjoyed Guns of the South. But I'm not investing the time in another extended series that only proves that no matter what happens, the grand sweep of history really doesn't change. An alternate history that isn't alternate is not what I'm looking for, and I'm very disappointed in this offering from "The Master of Alternate History."
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyable retelling of American History 1 Mar. 2009
By booksforabuck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
With England desperate to recoup the costs of its recent wars, it imposes trade taxes and restrictions on its colonies in Atlantis. The locals object and their objections explode into conflict when the redcoats attempt to disarm a local militia.

England is the greatest power in the world and the colonies lack anything resembling an army. The council guiding Atlantis (a minicontinent between Europe and America) calls on Victor Radcliff, highest ranking colonial from the previous war against the French, to general its forces. Radcliff wants nothing more than to stay home on his farm but his duty calls. He and his assistant, escaped slave Blaise, do what they can to create an army from short-term volunteers--then turn them loose on the world's greatest fighting machine.

Author Harry Turtledove writes two distinct types of alternate history--stories where something went distinctly differently from our own history, changing everything (e.g., Lee's plans for Gettysburg were never lost and the south wins the civil war) and stories where the actual events of our own history are replayed in a fantasy world (Turtledove has written stories of the civil war and World War II in worlds with mages and dragons). THE UNITED STATES OF ATLANTIS is of the second type. Victor Radcliff plays George Washington, balancing the demands of the founding fathers with those of his troops--and his own very human needs.

Unlike the George Washington of our own history, Victor Radcliff is not a slave owner and does not really favor the practice of slavery. He's also not dogmatically opposed to it and certainly doesn't want to risk the fate of the revolution he's leading on efforts to emancipate the slaves. Blaise has other priorities. Radcliff's sensitivities to the issue of slavery are highlighted when he impregnates a slave woman--and learns that he has fathered a son.

Of the two types of alternate history Turtledove writes, I prefer the first. For me, it's fascinating to consider how small changes in reality could have led to massively different consequences. Still, Turtledove manages to make his retellings of our own history interesting and exciting. While every American school child knows that Washington and Lafayette trapped Cornwallis in Yorktown, fewer will know all of the details of battle leading to this victory (and many choose to forget the critical role the French played in ensuring American independence).

In many ways, the issue of slavery is a defining one for America--and Turtledove makes sure we know this is the case in Atlantis as well. The Declaration of Independence nearly broke down over Jefferson's harsh words against slavery (which were eventually deleted from the ratified document). The American Civil War can be seen as the second phase of our nation's attempt to define itself as a land of freedom. Yet, although slavery was a horrible injustice, it was not the central issue in the American Revolution and Turtledove's story reflects the mixed role, and the willful blindness even good men created for themselves when faced with this national disgrace.

THE UNITED STATES OF ATLANTIS is an enjoyable retelling of American history that should help make it approachable to those who are bored by standard accounts, or simply want to see the American Revolution through a different lens--with some of the names changes to allow us to escape some of the emotional baggage associated with Washington, Franklin, and the others.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Worst of Turtledove 13 April 2010
By Fantasy Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is the first time that I put down a Harry Turtledove book. Usually I can't stop reading and finish in the first day or two, but this one I didn't even plan to finish, except that I ended up on an airplane and slogged through to the end.

No one who grew up in the United States needs to bother reading this book, as "The United States of Atlantis" have the same history as the United States of America. This is basically a re-packaging of the American Revolution, with characters exactly mirroring those in real history. Like George Washington, Victor Radcliffe is the reluctant leader, upon whom greatness is thrust. There is a Benedict Arnold-esque traitor who goes over to the British. There is someone in France, impressing the court with his rustic charm a la Benjamin Franklin. There is even a Jewish guy somewhere funding the revolution.

Usually I like when Turtledove explains every detail of the military campaigns and goes into detail explaining the winning strategies. This time I was bored because of how similar it was to things I already learned way back when in 11th grade.

I would give it no stars if I could.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Come On, Really--He's Not Going To Screw This Up, Is He? 20 Nov. 2009
By John Jorgensen - Published on Amazon.com
The second book in the Atlantis trilogy, and the first full-length saga that story contains. It opens with our pal Victor Radcliff running an errand with his trusty sidekick Blaise. They get into town somewhere and we hear that the British are taxing Atlantean merchants unreasonably, and before you know it, there's a war on.

Now I'm not saying I wanted to spend chapters on end watching Radcliff sit around in a rocking chair, but . . . What's the rush? We've got a whole novel here, why not watch the colonial grievances against London develop? Why not watch characters sift through the pros and cons of each side's argument before arriving at well-reasoned opinions on which side to support? That's not going to bore us here; that's a good, intelligent way to develop your story. It can be done well. Can be, hell--it IS done well. It's a staple of more Revolutionary War fiction than I can count, and it's often the best part of those works of fiction.

But no. There's a war on. A bunch of Atlantean politicians prevail upon Radcliff to command their forces. He fights the British in--oh, one of those Atlantean towns or other; I never really bothered much with remembering which is which, but I want to say New Hastings--and gets thrown back after making a puckish fight because the Royal Navy has bigger guns than he does. The war goes badly for a while and Radcliff and his army get chased around their turf. They send Thomas Paine to British Terranova to try to convince Terranovan colonists to join the fight; and, like most Turtledovean bit-players who get sent elsewhere because they've learned something so compelling that OF COURSE it will lead to offstage turmoil . . . nothing happens with him. Well some of the Terranovan British do eventually rise up, but it doesn't do our Atlantean heroes any good in this novel. It was really just an excuse for Turtledove to play with a historical figure.

Speaking of which: The politicians in the Atlantean Assembly are all fictional, but the most prominent ones are based on OTL figures, but loosely or as conglomerates. For instance, Isaac Fenner looks like Thomas Jefferson, has the personality of John Adams, and does the job of John Hancock. That's cool. But Custis Cawthorne--The man is identical to Benjamin Franklin in every way except his girth, and even with that Turtledove goes out of his way to say that he had the forceful presence of a much wider man. For God's sake! If you want to write about Franklin that badly, then WRITE about him!! It's not that hard. Jeff Shaara did it most believably. Ditto the screenwriters of HBO's John Adams biopic. Hell, to the extent that Cawthorne resembles Franklin, he's a very believable character. But Turtledove shies away from Franklin. It's more annoying than when he turned Kurt Waldheim into Kurt Haldweim. As it is, Cawthorne annoyed me because he represented Turtledove shying away from doing what he so clearly wanted to do, what we wanted him to do.

Now I have to pick apart Turtledove's treatment of the politicians on this level because he doesn't do anything much with them. He shows them whining at Radcliff to fight harder and fretting over all sorts of minor matters. He mentions that they sent a delegation to Paris, and that certainly matters. And then he has a courier pop up out of nowhere to give Radcliff a "Proclamation of Liberty" (yes, that's so different from the Declaration of Independence). The story of the writing of the Declaration is utterly fascinating and is the inspiration for some of the strongest historical fiction on the market; but Turtledove ignores it, then says "Oh, yeah, they wrote the Decl--Proclamation of Liberty," has Radcliff read it to the troops, and then they go back to fighting.

They traipse all across Atlantis, including a pointless saunter through the interior that goes on and on and gives them the chance to run into those goddamned honkers, who have long vanished from the heavily populated regions of Atlantis. We learn that they all died of embarrassment when they realized what a ridiculous name Old Man Radcliff had given them. (By the way, when Old Man Radcliffe takes Kersauzon's super-drumstick he says "What did this come from, a roc?" Why not call the birds ROCS?!?!?! It wouldn't sound friggin STUPID like honker does! Of course, Roc is the name of the publisher of this series, so maybe that has something to do with it.)

The French send help. Radcliff goes down to meet with Lafayette and has sex with a woman who has been enslaved. She conceives. Unlike most Turtledove sex scenes, which do either nothing or, worse, something unbelievably stupid to develop the characters involved, puts Radcliff in a most fascinating dilemma. He's always found slavery distasteful but has been listless in his condemnation of it and we've often seen him resist Blaise's attempts to push him into opposing it actively. But when he learns that his son--his only son, for the three children he's had with his wife all died in early childhood--will be born into slavery, it throws him into absolute agony. He tries to buy his baby-mama off her master but the man will have none of it, and Radcliff has a lot to worry him for the rest of his book--especially when his wife finds out: don't think she's not furious, especially since her children with Victor died young and Victor's bastard won't. (Well we can't say with certainty that he won't, as of the end of this book. But apparently the boy lives long enough to father a child of his own, because that child will be the POV in Liberating Atlantis.)

Blaise, who opposes slavery and should be indignant at the idea that a contemptible slaveholder would throw a woman at him and say "If you want her, take her," follows Victor's lead. This is out of character for him, and a much harder sell. Also, it doesn't have any point, not in the way the other does.

The French meet up with Victor's army, which has just been chilling waiting for him to get back. (Who does he think he is, Irving Morrell?) They try to operate together but their military philosophies are too far apart so they find other ways of fighting together. A cavalry commander named Habbakuk Biddiscombe (well that rolls right off tongue, doesn't it? I don't think the name will be bandied about like the name of Benedict Arnold, on whom he's based) argues with Radcliff over something and defects. He would be the story's main antagonist if we saw him often enough or learned enough about him to care about him, but we don't.

So they fight a bunch and in the end Radcliff wins and the British leave Atlantis. Turtledove goes out of his way to mention that negotiating the treaty is the soul of ease since Atlantis is just plopped down there in the middle of nowhere. Either the British leave, or they don't; if they don't the war continues. That was easy. There are no borders to negotiate as there were in the Treaty of Paris in our history because the new Atlantean government's only border is with Spanish Atlantis, which the British never got around to absorbing after the last book ended. (So much for "One of these days, all of Atlantis WILL be English!" We knew that was never supposed to be the point of the story anyway.)

Biddiscombe goes on the lam and sooner or later we learn someone killed him. An uninteresting end for an uninteresting villain.

Radcliff goes back home and faces the Wrath of Meg for his sex with the slave girl. Then out of nowhere a rider comes up and tells him he's been offered the job of Consul of Atlantis. Radcliff says something about "Oh, so I guess the Assembly resolved its squabbles over what sort of constitution we'd have." Well thanks, Harry. Thanks for sparing us the tedium of the high political drama that surrounds the creation of constitutions by successful revolutionaries, as the common threat that had held them all together vanishes and their ideological differences really flare up. Reading about how angry Meg was at Victor, and how she wouldn't let him sleep with her in revenge and he started masturbating instead, was so much more entertaining. That's what we bought the book for, isn't it?

As I said this is the first full-length novel in the Atlantis story. It's also the first Atlantis installment to have just one POV. So by far the longest story has the least breadth. A single-POV novel can certainly be a good read; Turtledove's written some great ones, though not in a while. (God knows the Opening of the World books don't count!) But having only a character with the Army, and glossing over non-military developments throughout the war, did not strengthen the book. Where was the political intrigue that a revolution must have? Or, if you didn't want to do that, where was the homefront drama? Turtledove wrote plenty of characters in both arenas who could have given us some excellent scenes. But no.

Actually, what it feels like is that it was meant to be another novella but Turtledove decided late in the game to extend it to a full-length novel--maybe because he thought such a significant story deserved to take up the entire book and any other stories he might add (which would of necessity come after this one) would detract from the whole, maybe because he just couldn't come up with any other stories. Radcliff's wartime adventures would have made a good novella (they did last time; he was one of two POVs there, but by far the main one, as well as by far the more interesting of the two), but the plot was too thin to carry a full-length novel. This could have easily been resolved by adding a second story to unfold alongside Turtledove's (which is, not to belabor the point, how most good Revolutionary War fiction is handled). Instead it seems like Turtledove just extended the war, which is why the campaign lacks such a sense of urgency--notice how little I had to say about it, even though it dominated the story. The long meander across the "Green Ridge" (oy) Mountains is a case in point here. The closest we have to a non-war related B story (or any kind of B story, hell) is Victor's byblow with the slave girl.

Still in all, it's worth reading if you're interested in the Atlantis story in general. Seems I end up saying that about so many Turtledove series installments, doesn't it?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Basically U.S. history not alternate history 2 Jan. 2010
By P. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
I finished the book disappointed. In spite of profoundly different geography, events essentially mirrored actual U.S. history. The author hasn't really produced an alternate history.

There are major gaps (gaffes?) - for example Paine is introduced and sent on a mission. We hear that he is creating trouble for the British - then nothing more. The story of Terranova is surprisingly downplayed given that it is a bigger continent and should be strategically critical to the war. An inordinate amount of words are given over to two characters, Blaise and La Fayette, while Victor's relations with the Atlantean Assembly are left sketchy. Victor and his contemporaries are altogether too modern in their thinking and behavior. Turtledove has a tough time dealing with the slavery issue and never finds a good way to handle it. In fact, it is impossible to reconcile the practice of slavery with men whose thinking, behavior and even manner of speaking is presented as essentially like those of Americans today.

About a third of the way into the book I realized that I knew how events would play out. It just killed the sense of suspense.

The honkers and other funky animals get a bit tiresome.

It is fascinating to speculate "what if?", but Turtledove should have let events play out as they might and not forced the story to mirror the actual history.

I still plan to read the next book in the series, though. It sounds as if events will be allowed to develop outside the box and according to their own logic.
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