Monday, September 20, 2010
Stars & Stripes Triumphant
This is the third and final entry in Harry Harrison's alternate history trilogy set during the 1860's. The first book, of course, set up the notion of the American Civil War being interrupted by a British attack on New Orleans, leading to the Americans re-uniting against a new common foe. Having successfully defended itself, the US follows up in the second book by diverting another British attack through Mexico, aimed at the American's soft underbelly by assisting the Irish to gain their independence. With a threat so close to her own homeland, the British have to pull back their resources from Mexico to defend its own shores. Now comes the third book.
This time around it very much seemed as if the author had a bone to pick with the British. He writes his British characters with, at best, unenlightened military minds, and at worst, as absolute buffoons. The Americans can do no wrong, militarily or politically. They use advancements in technology to great advantage and every battle in the entire book goes exactly as planned, leaving the British generals, admirals, and political leaders, (and especially Queen Victoria), to blunder about, dithering about how dare the British Empire be subjected to this. General Sherman takes center stage in this third book, leaving Abraham Lincoln to be just a kindly old uncle figure. Generals Grant and Lee and Admiral Farragut all participate in the invasion of England but they remain mostly offstage. Invasion of England? That's right. In response to the British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston's inexplicable decision to plunder American cargo ships, Lincoln decides to put an end to this once and for all. I won't provide spoilers but let's just say that I can't imagine any British citizen today reading this and enjoying it. General Sherman's battle strategy is well laid out and makes lots of sense but it does rely on his enemies to do everything exactly as he suspects...which they do, of course. There is never any real doubt as to how it will all end, especially given the title of the book.
Having said all that, the book is an easy read...
Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)
- "The Stand" by Stephen King
- "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
- "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
- "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
- "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
- "River God" by Wilbur Smith
- "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
- "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
- "Centennial" by James A Michener
- "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson