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Great War: Breakthroughs by Harry Turtledove
Published by Del Rey
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
The third volume of Harry Turtledove's alternate World War I series picks up in 1917. At last it seems that the stalemate will finally be broken. Teddy Roosevelt, president of a truncated and embittered United States, is determined to fully pay back the Confederate States of America for two humiliations in the past century.
Turtledove continues the multiple threads that follow the experiences of many ordinary people. There are the contrasting experiences of two Canadian families under American occupation. While the MacGregors become embittered and determined to hate America forever, the Galtiers of Quebec become steadily emmeshed in a set of personal relationships with individual Americans that push them across the delicate line from mere passive obedience to collaboration.
In the US, Socialist activist Flora Hamburger leaves her Jewish neighborhood in New York's lower East Side for the first time in her life to take her seat in Congress. There she faces numerous ethical dilemmas, including the temptation to use her influence improperly to get her beloved brother off the front lines and thus dilute her credibility.
In the Confederacy, Jake Featherstone is scribbling a sort of diary, sort of novel he's calling Over Open Sights. All the time he and his fellows grow steadily more embittered against the humiliations they perceive themselves to have suffered. Meanwhile the last desperate Black Reds (former slaves who have turned to Marxism) fight a holding pattern in the swamps against whites determined to crush them.
Whatever victory the United States may accomplish, it is clear that it is not going to be a true peace. Instead, it is only creating the desire for future revenge. That story will be continued in Turtledove's new series, American Empire, the first book of which has been entitled Blood and Iron.
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Review posted April 17, 2001
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