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If the South Had Won the Civil War Hardcover – 1 Nov 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 127 pages
  • Publisher: Forge; 1 edition (Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312865538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312865535
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.7 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,818,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

MacKinley Kantor was born in Webster City, Iowa, on February 4, 1904. In 1934, he published "Long Remember, " which received numerous rave reviews and became his first bestseller. Ten years later, Kantor was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Andersonville. He was one of the most well-known American writers during the 1950s and still remains one of the most respected Civil War authors to date. He died on October 11, 1977. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Long before there were all these alternative histories of the Civil War like "Guns of the South" and "Stars & Stripes in Peril," historical novelist MacKinlay Kantor, best known for "Andersonville," wrote this little volume that sketches out what would have happened with a Confederate victory. The above title might be an exaggeration, but as far as I know this was the first alternative history of the Civil War to see print. Kantor starts with a single, simple event: General Ulysses S. Grant is thrown from his horse and is killed on the first day of the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. The Army of the Tennessee does not make a come back on the second day and is destroyed. That also means Grant does not come East to take charge of all the Union armies and use the Army of the Potomac to batter Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, take Richmond, and end the war. Instead, it is Washington, D.C. and President Lincoln that are captured by the Confederates, who achieve independence.
Kantor takes the long view of what happens next: Texas breaks away from the Confederacy, the three nations fight together in various wars, while various generals become presidents of their respective countries. Ultimately Kantor's focus is more on the future of these Americans than the specifics of how the South actually wins the war. As far as Kantor is concerned the road not taken still produces a unified United States in the end. Consequently, "If the South Had Won the Civil War" is more a personal rumination along these lines than a scholarly argument. However, you have to appreciate his choice of the pivotal event, especially since he was writing at a time when it was pretty much gospel that the Confederacy's best chance was Pickett's Charge on the final day of Gettysburg.
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I love this little book of 'alternative' or 'what if?' history - only 127 pages in the edition I have - and, though reading it occupies a mere hour or so, it deals with the delightful thought that 'The War for Southern Independence' might have ended much earlier, in 1863, and very differently, if a couple of relatively minor happenings had had different outcomes, and it acts as a tonic to those of us who still believe in the Southern cause. The reason I write this is because MacKinlay Kantor does not describe a victory for the old Confederacy as a triumph for illiberal white supremacists, more a rational and sensible reinstitution of peace and civilisation for both North and South. For example, one of Mr Kantor's imagined heroes is 'Rel' Stuart - Robert Edward Lee Stuart, son of General 'Jeb' Stuart - a Congressman from Virginia who becomes Governor of the C.S. State of Cuba. (That would be infinitely preferable to the Castro brothers, surely?). I won't reveal the whole of the logically and carefully crafted tale: suffice to say that the people prosper, that slavery dies a death in the late 1800s (the 'Liberation Act' being passed by the Confederate Congress in 1885, with provision for financial restitution for slave-owners), and that the old 'United States' are likely to be reunited following a conference between the Presidents respectively of the Confederate States of America, the United States of America and the Republic of Texas, at Washington, D.D. (District of Dixie) - in April, 1961, one hundred years after the firing on Fort Sumter. Relatively light reading regarding a very heavy subject - but so enjoyable!
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good book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars 54 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fairly Short Work On Southern Victory 15 July 2015
By Seeking Disciple - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What if the South had won the Civil War? This has been a question many have pondered before. In this relatively short work, Kantor examines this proposal. He has the South winning the Civil War and claiming Kentucky and Maryland as Confederate States. Washington DC falls to the CSA as well with Columbus, Ohio becoming the new capital of the USA. Texas leaves the CSA in the early 1870's.

In 1885, the CSA bans slavery.

The three nations form an alliance for World War 1 and 2. By 1960, talk begins to reunify the three nations.

What I enjoyed here was the end of slavery by the CSA. The hate toward blacks was intensified by Reconstruction after the real Civil War. When slavery ended through peace (as in England and many other nations), race relations were established on better terms. The forced integration of the South has led to many evils toward minorities.

Overall this was very interesting to read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How close we came 26 Dec. 2016
By Larry Benjamin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This small volume marks a return to the subject of the Civil War, that Kantor had explored so thoroughly in his sprawling novel Andersonville. Instead of a dramatization of history, here Kantor embarks on what author Harry Turtledove describes in the preface as possibly the first example of alternative history. Turtledove compares it to science fiction, with the distinction that while science fiction imagines a future based on developments in the present, Kantor's alternative history of the Civil War, imagines a different present based on changes to key events in the past. Written from the vantage point of 1960 (when the book was first published), Kantor describes a very different history of the preceding century, following from alternative events that led to a very different outcome.


The details of this alternate history are astonishing, although possibly not surprising, as Kantor touches on relations between the United and Confederate States, the further secession of Texas, and combined efforts in the two World Wars. Slavery, as it turns out, was abolished within a few decades, and while African-Americans did not achieve full equality, they also did not suffer through Jim Crow, lynching, and other forms of overt repression, based on the theory that since emancipation was not forced on the slave states, the resulting animosity never developed. Kantor, unfortunately, spends little time on the westward expansion, and does not mention the treatment of the Native Americans, other than describing the Confederate annexation of Indian Territory. We also hear of "Russian America," which eventually poses an existential threat to the three American countries, but not much beyond that. The book ends on a hopeful note of reunification. It's telling to contrast Kantor's positive outlook with that in Kevin Wilmott's mocumentary CSA: The Confederate States of America, that imagines a worldwide expansion of racism and slavery that follows a Confederate victory.

According to the afterword, Kantor wrote this book at the behest of Look Magazine executive editor Daniel Mich, who urged him to take a break from the novel he was working on at the time, Spirit Lake, a story of the events around the last attack by the Lakota on settlers in Iowa in 1857. Kantor provides an explanation for the choices made in his alternate Civil War; apparently, the pivotal history-changing events came very close to actually taking place. It's possible that his eagerness to get back to "Spirit Lake" led him to write "If the South Had Won the Civil War" as a summary rather than a full-length novel. The concept certainly has enough merit to justify a longer treatment. Nevertheless, Kantor's engaging writing style is on full display, holding the reader's interest through sections that would not be out of place in a military history textbook.

Slavery and its aftermath arguably constitute the central narrative of the United States, a narrative whose repercussions are still playing out today. A country founded on the premise of liberty and justice for all has often fallen short of fulfilling that ideal for all of its inhabitants. Both entertaining and thought-provoking, "If the South Had Won the Civil War" is a fascinating addition to this discussion.
3.0 out of 5 stars Old style 2 July 2016
By Joseph Mares - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kind of an old-fashioned writing style.
2.0 out of 5 stars I was highly disappointed. The title is completely misleading 14 July 2016
By Rich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was highly disappointed. The title is completely misleading. It should be how the south may have won the war. I got the impression the author was more interested in trying to impress the reader with his vocabulary and knowledge of obscure civil war generals than producing an enjoyable book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and thoughtful book!! 28 May 2016
By Stephanie J Samuels - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What if? I agree that constituionally the Southern States were legally correct in leaving the Union. Not a pc answer but so what!
If Pres. Lincoln had lived, many of the problems in America today which resulted from revenge on the South would never have occurred.
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