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.