Reviews of Guns of the South, the (1992)
Review by almuftah (2004-12-01)
This book is part sci-fi, part historical novel. Although the sci-fi element is necessary for the premise (the South wins the American Civil War), the best part of the book is the historical element. Harry Turtledove is at his best when he makes well-known figures of history come to life. For example, much of the book revolves around the central character of Robert E. Lee. I came away from this book with a renewed respect for a man whom I already admired. Another strength of this novel is the way it clearly cuts right to the central issues of the Civil War. After reading it, I felt like I had a better grasp of what was really going on at the time. Being a Southerner myself, I am glad that the central issue of the war wasn’t really over slavery. Slavery was merely a symptom of a deeper issue which ran all the way back to the founding of the United States itself.
This book achieves an excellent balance of good research and historical commentary coupled with engaging, life-like characters, which range from the President of the United States down to the lowliest of foot soldiers.
The sci-fi elements of this story (time travel) seem to serve as a means to an end. They create an alternate history situation that then spins out into an engrossing tale. The results of a victorious South and the aftermath that follows as the new nation of the Confederate States of America tries to determine its course are completely believable.