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Every element of great alternative history,
This review is from: How Few Remain (Paperback)
This book is an example of alternative history at its best. To me, there are two elements to great alternative history. The first and most obvious is that the writer gets the history "right" - not accurate, of course, but believable. "Pure" alternative history is about what might have been; as such it should be reasonably plausible, with people and developments that must ring true to their times. Here Turtledove excels, demonstrating both imagination and a familiarity with the period. His sequence of events in developing a "second War Between the States" is logical, and he captures famous personalities - such as Abraham Lincoln, "Stonewall" Jackson, and Samuel Clemens - with considerable accuracy, portraying figures that are recognizably the same people that we know from our past.
Yet the people he depicts are more than just caricatures of historical reputations. This gets to the other component of first-rate works from the genre - strong character development. Within the context of a second conflict between the two halves of the former United States (over the acquisition of Mexican territory by the Confederacy), the reader sees them as they react to the circumstances of the war and how the war, in turn changes them. It is this aspect which makes the book riveting from beginning to end and essential reading for anyone interested in exploring how things might have turned out differently.