Harry Harrison, Author . Del Rey $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-345-40937-9

The third and final book in Nebula Award–winner Harrison's entertaining alternate history of the American Civil War (Stars & Stripes Forever; Stars & Stripes in Peril), in which the two sides reunite against a common enemy after the British Empire attempts to intervene on behalf of the South and sacks Biloxi by mistake, comes as something of a letdown. Making use of new technology, the new American command of Sherman, Lee, Grant and Jackson adapt their real-life strategies and tactics into what would be later known as blitzkrieg and deliver a defeat that the stubborn British aristocracy cannot accept. Much of the fascination of the previous entries was in how the reintegrated Army (and nation) functioned. Here, much of the Southern flavor is absent, replaced by the Northern juggernaut moving as mechanically as its components. The depiction of the British ruling classes as jingoistic bigots, and of Queen Victoria as a worthy grandmother to Kaiser Wilhelm II, was never subtle in the first two books, but here it descends to caricature, although it does remind us that our Special Relationship with the United Kingdom was by no means inevitable. If the conclusion arrives as no surprise, at least its manner will interest fans. Taken as a whole, this insightful series shows how the elements of modern warfare could have combined much earlier, and just how little the U.S. and the U.K. had in common in the 1860s. (Jan. 1)

Forecast:The jacket depicting a Confederate soldier aboard an ironclad vessel flying the Stars and Stripes nicely conveys the novel's theme. Booksellers might want to display this one with Harry Turtledove's alternate Civil War novel Advance and Retreat (Forecasts, Nov. 25). When? During alternative history month, of course.

Reviewed on: 12/02/2002
Release date: 01/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 304 pages - 978-0-345-40938-6
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