cover image The Guns of the South

The Guns of the South

Harry Turtledove. Ballantine Books, $19 (516pp) ISBN 978-0-345-37675-6

The Confederates win the Civil War with aid from South African time travelers in this unconvincing ``what-if'' tale. Using a time machine, Andrew Rhoodie and his cadre of white supremacists from A.D. 2014 join the rebels and supply them with AK-47 assault rifles. Rhoodie's ``America Will Break'' brotherhood hopes to foster a haven for slavery and extreme racism that will last into succeeding centuries. Thus armed, Gen. Robert E. Lee's troops are soon victorious, and Lincoln agrees to divide the nation. Lee wins political office in the South, and, ironically, becomes both a proponent of emancipation and a foe of the bigoted visitors from the future. Turtledove ( Krispos Rising ) might win over some Civil War buffs through his knowledge of historical figures and events. But stilted dialogue, slack pacing and thin characters diminish the book's appeal. (Oct.)