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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My favorite characterization of Robert E. Lee
On one level Harry Turtledove's "The Guns of the South" reminds me of the Saturday Night Live skit which asked the question, "What if Napoleon had a B-52 at the Battle of Waterloo?" This alternative history novel about the Civil War asks "What if the South had AK-47s during the Civil War?" The answer is, of course, that Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia would have...
Published on 4 Oct 2003 by Lawrance M. Bernabo

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, NOT as original as you might think
This is a pretty good book, but sadly the idea has been done before. About 40 years ago Harry Harrison wrote a book called "rebel in time" in which a redneck US army colonel went back in time with the plans for the Sten submachine gun in order that the South could win the civil war. Harrison's plot was all the stronger because (time travel apart) it was plausible. The...
Published on 10 Jan 2007 by Peter Symonds


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My favorite characterization of Robert E. Lee, 4 Oct 2003
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Guns of the South (Paperback)
On one level Harry Turtledove's "The Guns of the South" reminds me of the Saturday Night Live skit which asked the question, "What if Napoleon had a B-52 at the Battle of Waterloo?" This alternative history novel about the Civil War asks "What if the South had AK-47s during the Civil War?" The answer is, of course, that Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia would have destroyed the Army of the Potomac and anything else Abraham Lincoln threw at the them and the Southern Confederacy would have won their independence. However, "The Guns of the South" disposes of both the Union army and the Civil War rather quickly, because this alternative history is ultimately about what type of nation the Confederacy would have become. Specifically, what would have happened to the institution of slavery in the wake of a Confederate victory in which conquering hero Robert E. Lee succeeds Jefferson Davis to the presidency?
Turtledove certainly makes an interesting case for the angels of the better nature of the Southern Confederacy, however, for me the most ironic aspect of this novel is that this fictional work provides what I have come to consider the most realistic portrayal of Robert E. Lee; yes, more than "The Killer Angels," which is the obvious choice. As a historical figure, Lee has always been distanced by the reverence with which he is held and his own reticence, which made him rather unique as just about the only Civil War general who survived and did not write his memoirs. Turtledove's Lee has clearly come down off the pedestal and there is something so compelling about the way Lee anguishes over political decisions. Of course, this is all imaginative speculation, but I happen to like imaginative speculation. I do not need anyone to work out the theoretical rationale for the time machine that allows the South African patriots to ship back weapons to the Confederacy. The strength of this novel does not rest on physics but on characterization and even though the idea that Lee's personal charisma would have been sufficient to get the Confederacy to abandon slavery, it is simply one of those idealized beliefs I would like to hold on to. "Guns of the South" is a good read, and whether you come to it as a Civil War buff or a fan of alternative histories, I think either way you will enjoy the novel.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed this - impressed with Turtledove's work., 6 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Harry Turtledove has the ability to write a novel of such stunning fiction that it takes your breath away. Unfortunately, he also has the ability to write a novel of such numbing inanity that it, again, takes your breath away. This, however, is one of the former types. The book starts innocently enough, but quickly twists and turns, in characteristic Turtledove style, into a maelstrom of different stories, all weaving together into a cohesive whole.
Very few authors have the capacity to pull so many threads together, but Turtledove is one of them, and he produces his magic with a flourish, as suddenly everything you thought you understood about the plot is turned on it's head and yet another new development is unleashed.
Have you figured out I liked it yet? It was excellent - I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading science fiction. I won't use the cliche "impossible to put down", because if you read it without putting it down and thinking about what is happening, you will miss some of the finer nuances in the plot. Well, to be honest, you'll lose some of the major "nuances" in the plot as well :)
In short...
A Very good book. Recommended to all who like Sci-Fi, and Fantasy novels, for that matter. Enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 'Stand Alone' (despite the dull bits!), 12 Mar 2007
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This review is from: The Guns of the South (Paperback)
Harry Turtledove writes long books in long series ..... they're lots of fun but demand a lot of staying power. This stand alone book is therefore a great place to start with this great author!

What starts as a simple premise (and to other reviews - of course it's not original, this sort of thing has been done LOTS of times) - going back in time with modern technology to change the course of history - opens up to an epic tale of the American Civil War. The sci-fi bits (time travel, etc.) are not gone into at all, which means the plot stays very much at the pace of the eigthteenth century soldiers - and I think it works all the better for it.

The majority of characters are real people of the period (including some of the minor bit-players according to Turtledove's notes at the end), but it must be said that a little knowledge of the Civil War will probably help - if you don't know what REALLY happened, can you really appreciate the changes?

The books sags for a bit during the battle scenes, but this is more than made up for in the latter half with the politicians of the days crossing swords with their benefactors of the future.

Excellent stuff - highly recommended!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High schoolers Like it too!, 17 Sep 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Guns of the South (Paperback)
While only a sophomore at the time I read the book last year, and not really being much of a history buff, I couldn't put this book down at night. I don't know a whole lot about the Civil War, I admit, but nearly every minute I was reading this book I was simply amazed and intrigued at the concept let alone the outcome. Reading it, I didn't know what to expect, and what happened in the end was certainly not what I expected. Something that interested me very much was the storyline after the war had ended. The ideas that Mr. Turtledove thought of were not only incredibly in-depth and imaginative, but amazingly accurate to what I, a sophomore in high school, might think would really have happened if the outcome of the Civil War was something like this. This book is not only for history lovers, but for people who love to think of what the past would be like if it had occurred differently. Being this type of person, as well as someone interested in science fiction, I couldn't have found a better book. It made me wonder even more about a little fantasy I have about showing someone like Ben Franklin the technology of today. My thanks to Mr. Turtledove for such a perfectly excellent novel that someone like myself could enjoy. Marc D. Biedermann
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, NOT as original as you might think, 10 Jan 2007
This review is from: The Guns of the South (Paperback)
This is a pretty good book, but sadly the idea has been done before. About 40 years ago Harry Harrison wrote a book called "rebel in time" in which a redneck US army colonel went back in time with the plans for the Sten submachine gun in order that the South could win the civil war. Harrison's plot was all the stronger because (time travel apart) it was plausible. The Sten was hand made in school metal work workshops during WW2 ans could have been produced with 1850's technology. The AK-47 can't.

Turtledove is a good writer, but sadly this book isn't as good as the original he "borrowed" from.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SIMPLY "UNPUTDOWNABLE" !!, 20 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Guns of the South (Paperback)
An absolutely fascinating account of what might have happened if time travelers armed the Confederacy with AK-47s, thus changing the flow of history and determining the victory of the South over the North in the Civil War. Harry Turtledove spins a mesmerizing tale that kept me at the edge of my seat. His meticulous historical research and dazzling imagination came to life in this marvelous novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 23 Mar 2014
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didn't know a great deal about the American civil war so I had no pre conceived ideas. great story told well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not really a time travel book.., 7 Mar 2014
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To be honest, the book is more about the conflict over slavery in the US in the 19th century than it is about time travellers intervening in the civil war. I think it benefits from that focus. Some good characterisations, especially General Lee. A very good read and an interesting concept.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Review, 24 Sep 2013
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I haven't read any of themselves book but I really enjoyed this book. With those from the future, Lee beating them when they turned against the Confederacy, the potential new technology and ideas, Nate and Mollie getting married it was deserved of five stars.

One or two minor things left unanswered such as the time machine but, who cares.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still holds up well, 25 Feb 2013
This review is from: The Guns of the South (Paperback)
Hadn't read it in a decade so bought a lovely condition copy off Amazon and sat down to see if it lived up to how I remembered it. It was still a real page-turner up until the fall of Washington but did get a bit stodgy after that. Only after the Richmond Massacre did it really pick up again and ended well.
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The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove (Paperback - 31 Jan 1998)
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