The Great War: Breakthroughs (New English library) Paperback – 19 Jul 2001
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With shocking vividness, Turtledove demonstrates the extreme fragility of our modern world . . . This is state-of-the-art alternate history, nothing less (Publishers Weekly on HOW FEW REMAIN))
Turtledove plays heady games with actual history, scattering object lessons and bitter ironies along the way. Strong, complex characters against a sweeping alt-historical background. (Kirkus Reviews on RETURN ENGAGEMENTS)
Good fun. It has an authentic speculative quality, energy and dash. (Time Out on A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE)
Engrossing ... definitely the work of one of alternate history's authentic modern masters . . . totally fascinating. (Booklist on THE GREAT WAR series)
This is third part of the Great War trilogy (after Walk in Hell) and the 5th volume in Harry Turtledove's epic alternative history of the USA, in which the South is victorious in the American Civil War. It began with The Guns of the South, continues How Few Remain and goes on in Turtledove's American Empire and Settling Accounts sequences.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
As the title implies, the war ends here. I'll not reveal who won, that might spoil the book. I will say that the victory seems credible. Turtledove has obviously put a lot of thought and research into this. The story pans out logically and inevitably to its conclusion with, as always with Turtledove, a few more favourite characters dying along the way.
So where will things go now? Well it's a historical fact that the First World War caused the Second World War and the entire book seems to be hinting at such a sequel. Like I said, in a review of an earlier volume, it looks like Turtledove is exploring the ideas of Communism and Fascism being American ideas, either in the USA or the CSA (or possibly one in each!). This would seem to be the plan for the next book with the defeated American Country (CSA or USA) looking ripe for a fascist takeover. A candidate for American Hitler seems to have already been introduced.
And this is the main problem with multi-volume stories. No sooner do you finish one volume than you want to read the next!
This is not simply an excuse to bring the horrors of trench warfare onto the American continent. Although many of the characters take part in the fighting, details of the various military operations are kept muted. The emphasis is overwhelmingly on the effects the war has on ordinary people. The book jumps between over twenty separate situations, each with their own cast, the unfolding story of the conflict being the unifying factor. Mostly these different sets of characters never meet, and it says a lot for the quality of the writing that your interest is still completely maintained.
It has to be said that some of the threads are more satisfying than others. The poorer ones are rather abruptly resolved in "Breakthroughs". The more interesting ones are left open, obviously paving the way for the next series. The disadvantage of alternate history is that the further one moves from where history branches, the less relevant the examination of social trends becomes. However, this storyline is certainly strong enough for another series, and you can have great fun guessing the parts certain characters will be playing!
All in all, this is an enlightening examination of American social history, expertly written by an author who understands his subject. Highly recommended.
For me, this is the best book of the trilogy. It has been fairly obvious how the war itself was going to turn out but there are seeds being planted here that I'm sure will spawn major plot lines in future books in the series. It does appear to be somewhat mirroring the actual dreadful events that occured in Europe but it has still piqued my interest.
The book, set almost entirely in North America, tells the story of a goodly assortment of characters who are in the thick of the action. George Armstrong Custer (a pompous, bumbling idiot and great fun) is really the only senior figure at this point although like I said previously it looks like a lot of the other characters are going to become major players in future global events. Each chapter is broken up into smaller sections concentrating on one of the characters. Their paths do cross but only occasionally. It's a format that the author has used before and it works well enough.
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