Book Review: The Center Cannot Hold

CenterCannotHoldby Michael D. Pederson


American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold
Harry Turtledove
Ballantine Books, 619 pp.

What can I possibly say about the latest American Empire novel? Turtledove is the undisputed master of the alternate history story. The Center Cannot Hold continues the story of the ongoing conflict between the United States and the Confederate States following the Great War. By the end of this book the series has been diverging from our timeline for seventy years and it remains fascinating to see how Turtledove maintains a congruity between the two realities. In this installment, the stock market’s rise and fall influences most of the action of the book while the CSA’s Freedom Party continues its Nazi-like rise to power. Can a new reader pick things up six books into the series? Probably, Turtledove is good with his recaps, but six hundred pages of political and economic upheaval might not be the most interesting place to start.


Book Review: How Few Remain

HowFewRemainby Michael D. Pederson


How Few Remain
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey, 596 pp.

The latest book from the undisputed master of the alternative history novel is not a disappointment. Once again, Turtledove uses the “What if the South won the Civil War?” premise to hang his story on. However, this is not a sequel to his popular Guns of the South. Instead, How Few Remain is set in 1881, twenty years after the Confederacy’s victory, and the North and South are once again in conflict. This time the dispute is over who is going to lay claim to the Mexican Territories. When the South moves in, the North declares war. Unfortunately, Dixie is now backed by England and France (this is how they won the war) so the outcome isn’t as certain as we would expect. Turtledove uses major historical figures as his main characters: Lincoln, Longstreet, Jackson, Stuart, Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass, and Samuel Clemens. Accurate, well-written, and extremely believable. A must read for fans of alternative history.