Catalogue


Stars & stripes forever /
Harry Harrison.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : Ballantine Pub. Group, 1998.
description
xi, 338 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0345409337 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Ballantine Pub. Group, 1998.
isbn
0345409337 (alk. paper)
general note
"A Del Rey book"--T.p. verso.
"A novel of alternate history"--Jacket.
catalogue key
2417337
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
There, in the center of London, his statue sits in Imperial Roman splendor, toga-garbed and carved in finest marble. Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, his memory enshrined in what is probably the ugliest monument in the world; the Albert Memorial. He was a kind man and much loved by the Queen; he brought her true happiness. But did this Saxon prince, who never lost his thick German accent, ever do anything of any importance? Other than father the future king. He certainly did. He averted war with the United States. In 1861 the American Civil War was still in its first murderous year. Britain and France, to the dismay of the North, were planning to recognize the South as a separate nation. Now the British steam packetTrentwas taking the two newly appointed Confederate commissioners, James M. Mason and John Slidell, to England to represent President Jefferson Davis. On the eighth of November 1861 theTrentwas stopped at sea by the USSSan Jacinto.When her commanding officer, Captain Wilkes, found that there were two rebels aboard theTrenthe had them arrested on the spot and removed from the British ship. England was aroused, furious. The War of 1812, when Britain had been at war with the newly established United States of America, was still fresh in memory. With the Northern blockade of the Confederate ports biting deep, there was little cotton from the South and the weaving mills of the North were facing bankruptcy. The Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, saw the boarding of a British ship and the seizing of the passengers as a deliberate insult to Britain's sovereignty. The Foreign Minister, Lord John Russell, echoed the public sentiment when he sent a dispatch to President Lincoln ordering him to release the men immediately--or suffer the consequences. British troops and thousands of rifles were dispatched to Canada and troops massed on the United States border. Enter the peaceful Prince Albert. Already terminally ill with lung congestion--which was in reality typhoid fever caught from the foul water supply and drains of Windsor Castle--he did a rewrite of the dispatch, ameliorating the language and giving Lincoln a face-saving way out. Queen Victoria approved of the changes and it was sent to Washington. On December 26 President Lincoln ordered that the two Confederate commissioners be released. Sadly, Prince Albert would never know that he had averted what very well could have been a tragic confrontation. He had died on the fourteenth of the same month. But consider for a moment what would have happened if he had not changed the fatal dispatch. What if Lincoln had been forced by the strong language to ignore the ultimatum? What if the British invasion of the United States had gone forward? What if there had been war? NOVEMBER 8, 1861 The USSSan Jacintorocked gently in the calm seas of the South Atlantic; blue water below, blue sky above. The fire in her boiler was banked and only a trickle of smoke rose up from her high funnel. The Bahama Channel was only fifteen miles wide at this point, near the Parador del Grande lighthouse, a bottleneck through which all the island traffic funneled. Captain Charles D. Wilkes stood on the bridge of the American warship, hands clasped behind his back, staring grimly toward the west. "Smoke in sight," the lookout stationed in the crow's nest called out. "East southeast." The captain did not move as Lieutenant Fairfax repeated the sighting. The ship that he was waiting for would be coming from the west--should be coming soon if his calculations were correct. If the reports from the Union spies in Cuba could be believed, the men he was seeking should be on board. The chase so far had been a frustrating one; all about the Caribbean. The wanted men had been one step ahead of him ever since he had sailed from Florida
Excerpt from Book
There, in the center of London, his statue sits in Imperial Roman splendor, toga-garbed and carved in finest marble. Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, his memory enshrined in what is probably the ugliest monument in the world; the Albert Memorial. He was a kind man and much loved by the Queen; he brought her true happiness. But did this Saxon prince, who never lost his thick German accent, ever do anything of any importance? Other than father the future king. He certainly did. He averted war with the United States. In 1861 the American Civil War was still in its first murderous year. Britain and France, to the dismay of the North, were planning to recognize the South as a separate nation. Now the British steam packet Trent was taking the two newly appointed Confederate commissioners, James M. Mason and John Slidell, to England to represent President Jefferson Davis. On the eighth of November 1861 the Trent was stopped at sea by the USS San Jacinto. When her commanding officer, Captain Wilkes, found that there were two rebels aboard the Trent he had them arrested on the spot and removed from the British ship. England was aroused, furious. The War of 1812, when Britain had been at war with the newly established United States of America, was still fresh in memory. With the Northern blockade of the Confederate ports biting deep, there was little cotton from the South and the weaving mills of the North were facing bankruptcy. The Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, saw the boarding of a British ship and the seizing of the passengers as a deliberate insult to Britain's sovereignty. The Foreign Minister, Lord John Russell, echoed the public sentiment when he sent a dispatch to President Lincoln ordering him to release the men immediately--or suffer the consequences. British troops and thousands of rifles were dispatched to Canada and troops massed on the United States border. Enter the peaceful Prince Albert. Already terminally ill with lung congestion--which was in reality typhoid fever caught from the foul water supply and drains of Windsor Castle--he did a rewrite of the dispatch, ameliorating the language and giving Lincoln a face-saving way out. Queen Victoria approved of the changes and it was sent to Washington. On December 26 President Lincoln ordered that the two Confederate commissioners be released. Sadly, Prince Albert would never know that he had averted what very well could have been a tragic confrontation. He had died on the fourteenth of the same month. But consider for a moment what would have happened if he had not changed the fatal dispatch. What if Lincoln had been forced by the strong language to ignore the ultimatum? What if the British invasion of the United States had gone forward? What if there had been war? NOVEMBER 8, 1861 The USS San Jacintorocked gently in the calm seas of the South Atlantic; blue water below, blue sky above. The fire in her boiler was banked and only a trickle of smoke rose up from her high funnel. The Bahama Channel was only fifteen miles wide at this point, near the Parador del Grande lighthouse, a bottleneck through which all the island traffic funneled. Captain Charles D. Wilkes stood on the bridge of the American warship, hands clasped behind his back, staring grimly toward the west. "Smoke in sight," the lookout stationed in the crow's nest called out. "East southeast." The captain did not move as Lieutenant Fairfax repeated the sighting. The ship that he was waiting for would be coming from the west--should be coming soon if his calculations were correct. If the reports from the Union spies in Cuba could be believed, the men he was seeking should be on board. The chase so far had been a frustrating one; all about the Caribbean. The wanted men had been one step ahead of him ever since he had sailed fro
First Chapter
There, in the center of London, his statue sits in Imperial Roman splendor, toga-garbed and carved in finest marble. Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, his memory enshrined in what is probably the ugliest monument in the world; the Albert Memorial.

He was a kind man and much loved by the Queen; he brought her true happiness. But did this Saxon prince, who never lost his thick German accent, ever do anything of any importance? Other than father the future king.

He certainly did. He averted war with the United States.

In 1861 the American Civil War was still in its first murderous year. Britain and France, to the dismay of the North, were planning to recognize the South as a separate nation. Now the British steam packet Trent was taking the two newly appointed Confederate commissioners, James M. Mason and John Slidell, to England to represent President Jefferson Davis.

On the eighth of November 1861 the Trent was stopped at sea by the USS San Jacinto. When her commanding officer, Captain Wilkes, found that there were two rebels aboard the Trent he had them arrested on the spot and removed from the British ship.

England was aroused, furious. The War of 1812, when Britain had been at war with the newly established United States of America, was still fresh in memory. With the Northern blockade of the Confederate ports biting deep, there was little cotton from the South and the weaving mills of the North were facing bankruptcy. The Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, saw the boarding of a British ship and the seizing of the passengers as a deliberate insult to Britain's sovereignty. The Foreign Minister, Lord John Russell, echoed the public sentiment when he sent a dispatch to President Lincoln ordering him to release the men immediately--or suffer the consequences. British troops and thousands of rifles were dispatched to Canada and troops massed on the United States border.

Enter the peaceful Prince Albert. Already terminally ill with lung congestion--which was in reality typhoid fever caught from the foul water supply and drains of Windsor Castle--he did a rewrite of the dispatch, ameliorating the language and giving Lincoln a face-saving way out. Queen Victoria approved of the changes and it was sent to Washington.

On December 26 President Lincoln ordered that the two Confederate commissioners be released.

Sadly, Prince Albert would never know that he had averted what very well could have been a tragic confrontation. He had died on the fourteenth of the same month.

But consider for a moment what would have happened if he had not changed the fatal dispatch.

What if Lincoln had been forced by the strong language to ignore the ultimatum?

What if the British invasion of the United States had gone forward?

What if there had been war?


NOVEMBER 8, 1861

The USS San Jacintorocked gently in the calm seas of the South Atlantic; blue water below, blue sky above. The fire in her boiler was banked and only a trickle of smoke rose up from her high funnel. The Bahama Channel was only fifteen miles wide at this point, near the Parador del Grande lighthouse, a bottleneck through which all the island traffic funneled. Captain Charles D. Wilkes stood on the bridge of the American warship, hands clasped behind his back, staring grimly toward the west.

"Smoke in sight," the lookout stationed in the crow's nest called out. "East southeast."

The captain did not move as Lieutenant Fairfax repeated the sighting. The ship that he was waiting for would be coming from the west--should be coming soon if his calculations were correct. If the reports from the Union spies in Cuba could be believed, the men he was seeking should be on board. The chase so far had been a frustrating one; all about the Caribbean. The wanted men had been one step ahead of him ever since he had sailed from Florida. This would be his last chance to apprehend them. If he were wrong, and the Trent did not take this passage between the islands, she would now be safely on her way back to England and the pair would have escaped.

The decision he had made to station his ship here in the Old Bahama Channel was based completely on speculation. If the two men had indeed boarded the Trent, and if the steam packet had left Havana as scheduled--and if she took this course to St. Thomas, why then she should be here by noon at the latest. He started to reach for his watch, then stopped, not wanting to reveal eagerness or doubt before the crew. Instead he squinted up at the sun; surely it was close to the meridian. He clasped his hands even tighter behind his back and the scowl deepened on his face.

Five minutes went by--they could have been five hours--before the lookout called out again.

"Steamer ahoy! Just off the port bow."

"Raise steam," the captain ordered. He slammed his fist on the rail. "That's the Trent, I know that is the Trent. Have the drums beat to quarters."

Lieutenant Fairfax repeated the commands. In the engine room the boiler doors clanged open and the stokers hurled shovel load after shovel load of coal onto the fire. The deck thudded with the sound of running feet. Fairfax relaxed a little when he saw the slightest of smiles on the captain's lips. Wilkes was a hard man to serve under at any time, gruff and bad-tempered at being passed over so often for command. Sixty-two years old and seemingly doomed to remain forever behind his desk as chairman of the Lighthouse Board. Only the outbreak of war had saved him from that. Dispatched to Fernando Po to bring back this veteran wooden steamer to the Philadelphia Naval Yard, he had violated his orders as soon as they had reached Florida and heard about the search that was going on. He never for an instant considered going to the navy yard, not while two traitors were still at large! He needed no orders to apprehend them--just as he had needed no orders from his superiors in the long-gone days when he explored and m
apped the frozen Antarctic wilderness. He had little faith in the official chain of command and was always happier working alone.

The deck vibrated as the screw turned and a small wave foamed at the bow. Fairfax had his glass pointed at the approaching ship, hesitated to speak until he was absolutely sure.

"That is the Trent, sir, I know her lines well. And it is just as you said, eleven-forty, just before noon." There was more than a little awe in his voice; Wilkes nodded.

"Our English cousins are good at punctuality, Lieutenant. They are not good at much else." He had been a fourteen-year-old midshipman when the British Shannon had half destroyed the first ship he ever sailed in, the Chesapeake. Captain Lawrence, mortally wounded by musket fire, had died in his arms. He had never forgotten the dying man's last words--"Don't give up the ship." Yet despite the captain's order the colors had been struck and the ship had surrendered so that he, and the surviving crew members, ended up in a filthy British jail. He had never lost his hatred of the British since then.

"Hoist the flag," he ordered. "As soon as they can see it signal her to stop engines and prepare for boarding."

The helmsman brought the ship about in a smooth turn until they were sailing on a parallel course close to the steam packet.

"She's not slowing, sir," Fairfax said.

"A solid shot across her bows should induce her master to take proper action."

Moments later the gun boomed out; the Trent had to have seen it but they chose to ignore it.

"Very well," Captain Wilkes said. "Fire the pivot gun."

This gun was loaded with an explosive shell that burst close beside the British packet's bow. As the white cloud of smoke dispersed the bow wave on the Trent died away as her engines stopped. Captain Wilkes nodded grim approval.

"Lower the boat, Lieutenant Fairfax. You will take a squad of marines with you, muskets and bayonets. Use them if needs be. You know whom we are looking for."

"I do indeed, sir."

Wilkes watched in silence as the oars dipped and the boat pulled smartly toward the other ship. He betrayed none of the doubts that racked him. The broken orders, the desperate pursuit, the guesses and decisions, were part of the past. But everything he had done would be worth it if the wanted men were aboard. If they weren't ... He preferred not to think of the consequences.

As soon as the boarding ladder was dropped, Fairfax climbed up to the Trent's deck. Wilkes could clearly see him talking to an officer there. Then he turned about to face the American warship and took a white kerchief from his sleeve. Moved it in the agreed signal from chin to waist and back again.

They were aboard!
Eustin pushed through the cabin door and slammed it behind him.

"What is happening?" Madam Slidell asked. He just shook his head and ran across the cabin to the adjoining chamber, pushed into it.

"It's us--the Yankees are after us!" He stammered as he spoke, face pale with fear.

"Did they mention our names?"

"They did, Sir, said they were after John Slidell and William Murray Mason. Didn't mention me nor Macfarland. But the officer, he did talk some about you gentlemen's assistants so they know that we're aboard."

Slidell did not like this. He rubbed at his big, red nose angrily, stomped the length of the cabin and back. "They just can't do this, stop a British ship at sea, board her--this sort of behavior--it cannot be done."

"Easy to say, John," Mason said. "But as I live and breathe it sure looks like it has been done. Now we must think of the papers we are carrying, our warrants--the letters from Jefferson Davis. All the letters to the English and Scotch shipyards about the privateers they are building for us. Remember that we also have personal letters to the Queen and Louis Napoleon. They must not be taken!"

"Throw them overboard!" Slidell said.

"To late for that--there is the good possibility that they would float, be seen. We need a better plan. And I have it." The first fear was gone and Mason was his old and arrogant self again, brushing the back of his hand across his gray, bushy brows in a gesture long familiar to his fellow senators in Washington.

"John, you will stay here with your family and buy us time--a holding action."

"Why?"

"Because I know what to do with the papers. Give yours to Eustin immediately. Macfarland, get to my cabin and get the lot. We will meet in the mail room. Go!"

They went. Mason paused before he followed them, waiting as Slidell threw papers onto the bed in a flurry of activity. "You must think of something, stall them somehow--you are a politician so that pontification, obfuscation and filibustering should come naturally. And lock this door behind me. I am well acquainted with the Mail Officer, and am aware of the fact that he is a retired Royal Navy commander. A real old salt. We have talked long over whiskey and cigars and I have heard many a nautical tale. And he dislikes the Yankees as much as we do. I am sure that he will aid us."

He followed Eustin, heavily laden with the documents, out of the door and heard the key turn in the lock behind him. Eustin stumbled and a sheaf of papers fell to the companionway floor.

"Steady, man," Mason said. "No, leave them, I'll pick them up. Go ahead."


Macfarland was waiting at the Mail Room door, his face drawn and white.

"It's locked!"

"Bang on it, you idiot!" He thrust the papers he was carrying into the other man's arm and hammered on the door with his fist, stepped back when it opened.

"Why Mr. Mason--what is it?" The door was opened by an elderly man with white mutton-chop whiskers, his face tanned by a lifetime at sea.

"Yankees, sir. They have fired at this ship, stopped her, sir."

"But--why?"

"It is their expressed desire to makes us their prisoners, to seize us against our will, clap us in irons and carry us off to some foul cell. And perhaps even worse. But you can help us."

The officer's face tightened in grim anger. "Of course--but what can I do? If you hide--"

"That would be cowardly, and we would be found." Mason seized a handful of papers and held them out. "It is not our fate that can be altered. But here are our credentials, our documents, our secrets. It would be disaster if the Yankees seized them. Would you preserve them for us?"

"Of course. Bring them inside."

He led the way across the room to a massive safe, took a key from his pocket and unlocked it.

"Put them in here, with the government post and specie."

When this was done, the safe door swung shut and was locked. The Mail Officer returned the key to his pocket and patted it.

"Gentleman, though I am retired now I have never turned from my duty as a naval officer. I am now a bulldog in your defense. Threats of death will not sway me. I will keep this key in my pocket and it will not come out until we are in safe harbor in England. They must pass over my body before they enter this room. Your papers are as safe as the letters of the Royal Mail."

"I thank you, sir. You are an officer and a gentleman."

"I am but doing my duty . . ." He looked up at the sound of muffled shouting from the deck above, and the march of heavy boots. "I must lock the door."

"Hurry," Mason said. "And we must get to the cabin before the bluebellies do."




"I must protest this action, protest it strongly," Captain James Moir said. "You have fired on a British ship, halted her at sea at gunpoint, piracy--"

"This is not piracy, Captain," Fairfax broke in. "My country is at war and I am diligent in her service, sir. You have informed me that the two traitors, Mason and Slidell, are aboard this vessel. You will see that I am unarmed. I ask only to satisfy myself of their presence."

"And then?"

The American did not respond, knowing full well that anything he said would only add to the English captain's seething anger. This situation was too delicate, too laden with the possibility of international complications, for him to make any mistakes. The captain would have to decide for himself.

"Midshipman!" Moir snapped, turning his back rudely on the lieutenant. "Take this person below. Show him to the cabin of his countrymen."

Fairfax contained his own anger at this ungentlemanly behavior and followed the lad belowdecks. The steam packet was spacious and comfortable. Dark wood paneling lined the companionway and there were brass fittings on the cabin doors. The midshipman pointed to the nearest one.

"This will be it, sir. American gentleman name of Slidell, him and his family."

"Family?"

"Wife, sir, and son. Three daughters."

Fairfax hesitated only for an instant. The presence of Slidell's family made no difference; there could be no going back. He knocked loudly.

"John Slidell--are you there?"

He could hear whispered voices through the door, people moving about. He tried the handle. It was locked.

"I call to you again, sir. I am Lieutenant Fairfax of the United States Navy. I call upon you to open this door at once."

Silence was his only answer. He hammered again on the door so that it shook in its frame. It did not open and there was still no response.

"The responsibility lies with you, Slidell. I am a military officer doing his duty. I have orders to follow and follow them I will."

When there was still no response Fairfax turned and stamped angrily away, the midshipman scurrying ahead as he went back on deck. A group of passengers had come on deck as well and stared at him as he crossed to the rail and leaned over to shout his orders down to the boat.

"Sergeant--I want your men up here at once. All of them."

"I protest!" Captain Moir called out.

"Noted," Fairfax said turning his back on the man, treating the captain just as he had been treated.

Heavy boots slammed on the decking as the blue-clad marines scrambled aboard.

"Right shoulder ... shift!" the sergeant bellowed and the muskets slammed into position.

"Sergeant, have your men fix their bayonets," was Fairfax's next command. He needed as strong a show of force as possible, hoping to avoid any untoward incidents this way. The sergeant shouted the commands and sharp steel glittered in the sunlight. The watching sailors shuffled back at the sight of it: even the captain was silent now. Only the Southern passengers who had now come on deck displayed their feelings.

"Pirates!" one of the men shouted as he shook his fist. "Murderous Yankee bastards." Others joined the shouting and started forward.

"Stop there!" Lieutenant Fairfax ordered. "Sergeant--have your men prepare to fire if these people get any closer."

This threat damped down the Southern enthusiasm. There were muttered complaints as they moved slowly back from the leveled bayonets. Fairfax nodded.

"See you stay that way. I'll take the corporal and two men below, Sergeant."

Marine boots thundered on the steps, stamped down the passageway. Fairfax led them forward, pointed to the cabin door.

"Use your musket butt, Corporal. Don't break it down yet--but I damn well want them to know that we are here."

Once, twice, thrice, the butt slammed thunderously on the thin wood before Fairfax waved him aside, called out loudly.

"I have armed marines here and they will do their duty if this door is not unlocked at once. I understand there are women in there so I do not wish to use violence. But I will use force to enter this cabin--if the door is not unsealed instantly. The choice is yours."

The heavy breathing of the waiting men was the only sound to break the silence. Fairfax felt his patience was at an end and had just opened his mouth to give the order when there was a rattling at the door. It opened a scant inch--then stopped.

"Ready your weapons," Fairfax ordered. "Use them only if we meet resistance. Follow me." He threw the door wide and went in. Halted abruptly at the sound of the shrill screaming.

"Stop right there!" the angry woman called out, holding the three girls to her ample bosom. A boy was at her side, shivering with fear.

"I mean you no harm," Fairfax said. The screaming died away to mournful sobbing. "Are you Mrs. Slidell?" Her answer was only a quick, angry nod. He looked about the luxurious cabin, saw the other door and pointed toward it. "It is your husband I wish to address. Is he there?"


John Slidell had his ear pressed hard against the panel in the door. He turned as there was a soft knock on the door across the cabin from him that led to the companionway. He hurried to it, whispered hoarsely.

"Yes?"

"It's us, John--unlock this thing at once."

Mason pushed his way in, Eustin and Macfarland hurrying after him. "What is happening?" Mason asked.

"They are inside with my family. A naval officer, armed marines, we delayed them as long as we could. The papers ...?"

"Are in safe hands. Your delaying action was vital for our one small victory in this battle at sea. The Mail Officer, a retired Royal Navy commander as I told you, has taken the papers under his personal control. Locked them away and says he will not take out the key to his safe until he sees England's shores. He even said that threat of death itself would not sway him. Our papers are as safe as the letters in the Royal Mail."

"Good. Let us go in there now. My family has suffered enough indignity as it is."

The sobbing died away when the connecting door opened. A marine pointed his bayonet and stepped forward; Lieutenant Fairfax waved him back.

"There is no need for violence--as long as the traitors obey orders."

Fairfax watched coldly as the four men entered the room. The first man through called out to the huddle of women.

"Est-ce que tout va bien?"

"Oui, ça va."

"Are you John Slidell?" Lieutenant Fairfax said. His only answer was a curt nod. "Mr. Slidell it is my understanding that you have been appointed as the special Rebel commissioner to France . . ."

"Your language is insulting, young man. I am indeed a member of the government of the Confederacy."

The lieutenant ignored his protestations, turned to the other politician. "And you will be James Murray Mason sent to the United Kingdom on the same mission. You will both accompany me, your assistants as well . . ."

"You have no right to do this!" Mason boomed out.

"Every right, sir. You as a former member of the American government know that very well. You have all rebelled against your flag and country. You are all traitors and are all under arrest. You will come with me."

It was not an easy thing to do. Slidell had an endless and emotional conversation in French with his Louisiana Creole wife, filled with tearful interruptions by his daughters. Their son fell back against the wall, pale and trembling, looking ready to faint. Mason made a thundering protest that no one listened to. The matter continued this way until almost an hour had passed and there was still no end in sight. Fairfax's anger grew until he shouted aloud for silence.

"This most grave matter is descending into a carnival and I will not allow it. You will all follow my orders. Corporal--have your marines accompany these two men, Eustin and Macfarland, to their cabins. There they will each pack one bag of their clothing and possessions and will be taken on deck at once. Have them ferried across to the San Jacinto. When the boat returns the other prisoners will be waiting on deck."

The logjam was broken--but it was mid-afternoon before the transfers were completed. Mason and Slidell were escorted up to the deck, but would not leave the ship until all their personal effects were packed and brought to them. In addition to their clothes they insisted upon taking the thousands of cigars that they had purchased in Cuba. While these were being transferred Captain Moir insisted that they would need dozens of bottles of sherry, pitchers and basins and other conveniences of the toilet that would not be found aboard a man-of-war. There was even more delay as these items were found and brought on deck.

It was after four in the afternoon before the prisoners and their belongings had been transferred to the San Jacinto. The warship raised steam and turned west toward the American shore.

When Captain Moir on the Trent had seen his remaining passengers safely in their cabins he mounted to the bridge and ordered his ship under way again. The American warcraft was only a dot on the horizon now and he had to resist the urge to shake his fist in her direction.

"This has been a bad day's work," he said to his first officer. "England will not be humiliated by this rebellious colony. Something has begun here that will not be easily stopped."

He did not realize how very prophetic his words would prove to be.
Excerpted from Stars and Stripes Forever by Harry Harrison
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1998-09-21:
Admirers of Harrison's West of Eden trilogy or his magisterial Dark Ages collaboration with John Holm won't be pleased by this disappointing novel of an alternate Civil War. Neither will buffs of that conflict or military historians accustomed to work at the level occupied by Harry Turtledove. Harrison's premise is that an actual historical event (the seizure of two Confederate diplomats from the British steamer Trent) leads to open war between Britain and the North. The British then attack Confederate territory by mistake, whereupon North and South join forces to give the British a royal shellacking, eventually driving them from the continent (the French Canadians form an independent republic). Harrison has thrown in some original touches, such as leading roles for John Stuart Mill and William Tecumseh Sherman. Many of the other historical characters are well handled and the burgeoning military technology of the area is explored in some detail. But the British are so consistently depicted as gross bunglers and their leaders (including a Queen Victoria straight out of Kitty Kelley) as Anglophobic stereotypes that all of Harrison's homework ends up supporting what is hardly above the level of an idiot plot. This appears to be the first of a series. Illustrations. Author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, September 1998
Publishers Weekly, September 1998
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Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
What if, at the height of the U. S. Civil War Great Britain launched a full-blown attack on a vulnerable America?In this astonishing epic of alternate history, a powerful blend of fact, fiction, and strategic possibilities, Harry Harrison poses a provocative scenario that would have changed the outcome of the U.S. Civil War -- and the course of human history. The result is an exciting, action-packed, hugely entertaining novel of men, women, war, and weaponry on both sides of the Atlanti
Main Description
In this astounding epic of alternate history--a powerful blend of fact, fiction, and strategic possibilities--Harry Harrison poses a provocative what if scenario that would have changed the outcome of the U.S. Civil War--and the course of history. The result is an exciting, action-packed, hugely entertaining novel of war and weaponry on both sides of the Atlantic. On November 8, 1861, in the Bahama Channel close to Cuba, a U.S. navy warship stopped a British packet, boarded her, and seized two Confederate emissaries on their way to England to seek backing for their cause. England responded with rage . . . and with calls for a war of vengeance. The looming crisis was defused by the peace-minded Prince Albert. But what if fate had intervened? Imagine how his absence during this critical moment might have changed everything. For lacking Albert's calm voice of reason, Britain now seizes the opportunity to attack and conquer a crippled, war-torn America. Ulysses S. Grant is poised for an attack that could smash open the South's defenses. In Washington, Abraham Lincoln sees a first glimmer of hope that this bloody war might soon end. But then disaster strikes: English troops have invaded from Canada. With most of the Northern troops withdrawn to fight the new enemy, General William Tecumseh Sherman and his weakened army stand alone against the Confederates. At sea, the wooden American navy faces the threat of the British iron battleship H.M.S. Warrior. As Queen Victoria and her prime minister, Lord Palmerston, seek total destruction, Confederate president Jefferson Davis and President Lincoln must make crucial decisions under fierce pressure. Stars and Stripes Forever asks--and then fascinatingly answers--a central question: Could a divided, bloodied America have defeated England, or would the United States have ceased to exist for all time?

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