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How Few Remain Hardcover – 15 Jan 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 15 Jan 1998
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 474 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; First Edition edition (15 Jan. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340715405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340715406
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.2 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,529,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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)

Book Description

This is the second volume in Harry Turtledove's epic alternative history of the USA, in which the South is victorious in the  American Civil War.  The story began with The Guns of the South, continues in this volume and goes on in Turtledove's three great sequences:  The Great War, American Empire and Settling Accounts.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 11 Dec. 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
How Few Remain is an Alternative History novel, about what would have happened if the South had won the Civil War. The American Civil War is the second most popular alternative History SF setting (the first is WWII) and a particular interest of Harry Turtledove cf the Guns of the South. This one has a far more credible reason for the South winning, the failure of McLellan to intercept Lee's battle plans during the Antietam campaign and Lee's victory there followed by foriegn recognition of the CSA. All of this is dealt with in the first few pages and is credible enough. But it's 1881, 20 years later, that is the focus of the book. At this point the CSA looks likely to acquire two Mexican provinces and thus gain a Pacific coastline. In order to stop this the USA goes to war.
Like most of Turtledove's books, the story unfolds from the viewpoint of a number of characters, in this case they're all historical characters. What's more we have George Armstrong Custer, JEB Stuart, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Abraham Lincoln as viewpoint characters, all of whom died during the war or, in Custer and Lincoln's case, as a result of it. It's sort of fun to see them in 1881 meeting such people as Theodore Roosevelt and Albert Schlieffen (two more of the viewpoint characters.) It's also fun to see how Turtledove deals with how they would have coped in the world of 1881.
This is the major difference between this book and other alternative Southern Victory books. 1881 is the cusp of the modern world, a world with weapons of mass slaughter, industrial unrest, etc. The war the CSA fights in 1881 is very different to the war of 1861, which was bloody enough, because now every soldier on both sides has a repeating rifle. As such it resembles WWI more than the ACW.
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Format: 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.
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Turtledove was in his creative prime when he wrote his piece. Although I haven't read his more recent works including the "War Comes Early" series, reviews seem to have been less favourable. But I digress....

For some reason this is referred to as "Southern Victory Series Book 2", but I am not sure why since it is the first of a series, being unrelated to "Guns of the South", his earlier stand-alone (and brilliant) novel. As with all decent alternative history, the story offers both believable portraits of historical individuals (Theodore Roosevelt, George Custer, Stonewall Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, to name the most prominent) and also plausible/logical turns of events that cause history to turn out differently. In contrast to some of his later books, Turtledove also seems to use less padding and irritating reiteration of character traits to fill out the story, leaving a lean and interesting account of a world which sees renewed hostilities between the USA and CSA (Confederate States of America). Although not strictly speaking part of the "Great War" series (I may be wrong here), it does help with the latter series if you have read this first, but it also stands on its own merits as a good work.
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A long novel that details the characters really well. Perhaps I am biased because I am a great fan of the books that Harry Turtledove writes. A good and interesting alternative to the American history from after the civil war heading to the Great War 1914 - 18. If you enjoy a story that has great depth, perhaps at times too much so, this is the one for you but be warned it will only wet the appetite to continue onto the other books in the series.
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Format: Paperback
As a fan of historical fiction, I have also become a fan of alternate historical fiction. In How Few Remain, Harry Turtledove weaves a plausible and entertaining yarn in which the 2nd United States Civil War is waged in 1881-1882.
For me, the inclusion of historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, George Armstrong Custer, Theodore Roosevelt, Samuel Clemens ( aka Mark Twain ), Fredeick Douglass, Generals Jackson (Stonewall ) and Longstreet, William Tecumseh Sherman, Jeb Stuart, Geronimo and more add a rich flavor to the tale. Following these characters to their likely(?) destinations based on this alternate history is a lot of fun. The battles depicted seem possible and the employment of the more advanced weaponry and tactics available at the time provide food for thought. European allies...from the end of the first war to this second...are of importance, though their exploits don't earn as much detail in the book as they probaly should. The political motivations of the times and the characters are quite interesting and add elements that shed light on the original conflict as well as this imagined aftermath. One British customer/reviewer was upset at the treatment of the British in the book. My opinion is that as the ally of the Confederate States of America, which may be perceived as the villainous side in this story, it's possible that a British reader may feel some negativity in their depiction. For my part, I don't think that the British are treated poorly and, in fact, pull off a highly professional and successful raid that any military fan would be impressed with. This book is followed by Turtledove's Great War series and I for one am anxious to follow his entertaining path.
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