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cover shot Save Yo' Billion Dollah Confederate Bills, Boys...

American Empire: Blood & Iron

Harry Turtledove

...'cos the South gonna rise again.

Or maybe not.

At the end of the previous volume, it looked as if the North and Germany were going to make the same mistakes that the US and England/France made at the end of World War One, gleefully humiliating their defeated foe so flagrantly that Hitler years later took malicious pleasure in bringng out the railway carriage in which Germany had been forced to sign inequitable and punitive terms or surrender and using it as the site of his acceptance of French surrender.

Certainly, for some time after the end of the War, if the average citizen of the US thinks of the defeated Confederates, it's likely to be a brief hope that the bastards are suffering down there, but things never get quite so bad internationally.

Former Artillery Sergeant Jake Featherston, still working on "Over Open Sights", his memoir that explains the Souths loss in terms of betrayal of the True Spirit of the South by politicians and the military brass, becomes an early member of the Freedom Party. The Freedom Party, at the beginning a tiny splinter group, is an organisation possibly more scary to the early-21st-century reader than it is to the early-20th-century characters (though it certainly scares enough of them, to be sure). After all, our own history was shaped by a tiny splinter party that began its existence meeting in the backs of bars in Bavaria...

As in our universe, there is a horrible period of inflation/depression, with the printing presses unable to keep up with the demand, with postage stamps and paper money literally bearing amounts in the billions of dollars. Some may find this sort of hyper-inflation hard to believe, but, somewhere, i have actual real- world have multi-million-mark (and, i think, billion-mark) German ordinary postage stamps from the period between the Wars. But, as Turtledove shows us, even that sort of horrid times brings opportunities (even honest ones) for those who have open eyes and a quick grasp of a situation.

Up in the Republic of Quebec, Lucien Gaultier and his family --including his Yankee son-in-law, a doctor -- reap the beginnings of returning peace and prosperity, but another Canadian farmer resumes his bombing career in an attempt to exact more vengeance for the firing-squad death of his son, early in the US occupation.

George Armstrong Custer, his single solution to any military situation (charge headlong with everything you have) having paid off when using "barrels" (tanks) against infantry and cavalry, is a national hero. Which, with five billion Confederate dollars, will buy you a cup of coffee. Or, perhaps not, if you have sufficient enemies in the War Department and the Executive Mansion. ((There is an old story, attributed to a number of famous wits -- the wit's friend remarks, of a mutual acquaintance "He is his own worst enemy", and the wit replies "Not while I'm alive." Substitute "Custer" for "mutual aquaintance" and "Teddie Roosevelt" for "wit" and the syllogism still holds true.))

The aircraft carrier is the Latest Latest Thing in naval warfare, and newer, lighter, quieter and harder-hitting, more maneuverable "barrels" are on the drawing boards... but what with the Socialists winning more and more power in Congress, and mounting a credible challenge to TR's try for a third term with Upton Sinclair as their candidate, and the inherent resistance to change in tactics or doctrine of the Military Establishment, money is just not available to the military to develop these promising weapons systems properly, much to the despair of forward-looking officers who see their need clearly.

With the Socialists in the majority and heading for the Executive Mansion, though, the treatment of the conquered Confederacy may just be a bit better than that of conquered Germany was, leading to unforseeable diversions from our own timeline even broader than we have seen so far.