If the South Had Won the Civil War Paperback – 1 Nov 2001
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
He takes two near simultaneous events as his turning points: Grant's death in a horse accident prior to his capture of Vicksburg, and the rout of the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg. Going forward from that point, he posits Lincoln's flight from Washington, the establishment of the Republic of Texas, and a host of other events, large and small, that lend far more realism to his allohistorical world than one might expect out of a story of less than a hundred pages.
As it happens, I think that a Civil War ending in Confederate victory would have left far more acrimony than Kantor predicts. However, it is the beauty of good alternate history that one need not agree with the author's interpretations to enjoy it. So long as the author's conclusions are well researched, logical and well argued (and that is absolutely the case in this instance) one can't take issue with them. Moreover, half the fun is stacking up your conclusions of what might have happened against the author's, and seeing how you rate.
Don't let its size fool you; "If the South Had Won the Civil War" is an intelligent, engaging alternate history. Kantor makes some genuinely fascinating leaps, and his logic and conclusions are ironclad.
Kantor tell of how the losses of Sherman and Grant, along with other developments (that in some cases very nearly happened) changed history and ended the war in favor of the south. He goes on to trace the history of the American nations over the next century, from the Davis, Lee, Jackson and Stuart administrations in Confederate-controlled Washington DC, thru the building of the new US capital, Columbia, in present-day Columbus, Ohio. Kantor tells of Texas' withdrawal from the Confederacy and its annexation of the Indian territory to its north. He introduces us to popular figures, like multi-term Virginia Senator Robert E. Lee Stuart, son of JEB, an extraordinary man who never existed in our own timeline. Kantor creates a believable example of the way it could have been and does a handy job of making all this interesting. Read this (in about as long as it'd take you to watch a movie of the week on TV) and you'll feel enlightened by this window into the way things nearly were.
Word reaches President Abraham Lincoln that the end is near. On July 4, 1863, he and his family flee the White House at night, in the back of a horse-drawn ice truck. His first destination is Richmond, Virginia, where he is the "guest" of president Jefferson Davis. There is little or no looting of Washington by the advancing Confederate forces, though a number of White House items somehow make their way into Confederate homes. The looting is done by the citizens of Washington, whose name is changed from District of Columbia to District of Dixie.
America is given a chance to move the offices and documents out of Washington, and they eventually end up in the new capital of Columbus, Ohio, which is renamed Columbia. Seward's Folly, the purchase of Alaska from Russia, never happens. Throughout all of this, Texas remains independent.
In 1898, a Confederate battleship is blown up in Havana Harbor. The Confederate States declare war on Spain, and send an expeditionary force against Spanish forces in Cuba. After a successful campaign, the island is rebuilt and Cuba becomes the newest member of the Confederate States of America. Through the 20th century to the present, relations between the three countries (United States, Confederate States and Texas) are actually pretty good.
This is a fascinating book. History buffs, especially Civil-War history, need to read it. Some knowledge of history, more than the usual amount, would be a help. This is highly recommended.
Overall, the book is a fast read and very interesting. I heartily recommend it to fans of alternative history. I should point out that this is not a character driven novel; it is closer to a future reflection on a fictional past. I also wish the author had written in more detail in some instances dealing with the post-Civil War world. That said, I am still quite glad I took the time to read Kantor's work.