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An Extremely Affecting and Moving Book.
am 24. Oktober 1999
What Harrison says in his Afterword is true: the American armies in 1862 were by far the most powerful fighting force in the world; military observers from all major countries were on hand to learn what modern war was turning into. And, of course the British were arrogant imperialists in those days -- ask the Irish and those living in India and China. (Remember the Opium Wars, fought to enforce the British right to sell opium to the Chinese people?)
When the British attack the USA from Canada and then mistakenly attack the Southern city of Biloxi from the sea, thinking it is the Northern outpost on Deer Island, the exhausted British soldiers break discipline after finding a warehouse of liquor, and end up raping the women of Biloxi. (Such breakdowns in British army discipline were rare, but not unknown.) This is exactly the kind of event that would have inflamed every Southern soldier with a desire for revenge, and when General Beauregard asks General Sherman for a truce so that he can move his troops to fight their common enemy, Sherman goes further by offering to join hs men with Beauregard's forces. This was a time when soldiers still thought in terms of honor, and Sherman was probably the most thoughtful and courageous general alive at the time. I was moved to tears by the scenes of the Bluecoats and Butternuts happily joining forces (they traded tobacco and coffee during truces, so this was also realistic) to attack the British forces. Add to this the genuine eloquence of people like Sherman and (especially) Lincoln, and the whole story was a moving experience. Turtledove's "Guns of the South" was extremely good (his later efforts have been more disappointing), but he never was able to capture the eloquence of Lincoln.
I bought this in paperback and ordered a Hardcover copy even *before* I finished reading it.