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Blood and iron

American Empire: Blood and Iron

American Empire: Blood and Iron is the first book of the American Empire trilogy of alternate history fiction novels by Harry Turtledove. It is a sequel to the novel How Few Remain and the Great War trilogy, and is part of the Timeline-191 series.

Blood and Iron covers events directly following the closing events of The Great War: Breakthroughs. It takes the Timeline-191 world from 1917 to 1924.

Plot summary

The victorious United States of America stands over the fallen Confederate States of America, victim to its own nationalist-ego and myth after three years of bloody trench fighting. In the CSA, an former soldier named Jake Featherston joins the Freedom Party and uses it as his platform for beginning to take over the Confederate government and exact revenge on both the USA and the groups he perceives as having stabbed the CSA in the back: blacks, the Southern aristocracy, and the Whig Party.

He soon takes over as leader of the Party and unleashes angry veterans on his enemies. He almost becomes president in 1921, but setbacks at the polls and elsewhere force him and the Party to wait longer to accomplish their ruthless goals.

The USA's conservative government, meanwhile, had been voted out of office by the party of the masses: the Socialists, electing President Upton Sinclair and Vice President Hosea Blackford, who marries Congresswoman Flora Hamburger. Ignoring the looming threat of the south, the Socialists focus on improving the lives of its citizenry — at the cost of trimming down its defenses and the military. The assassination of the Confederate president Wade Hampton V, a Whig, by Freedom party member Grady Calkins led to a mass exodus of Freedom Party members and evoked the pity of the USA's socialist administration. The USA ended Confederate reparations causing the revival of the CSA's currency, which had suffered from crippling inflation since the conclusion of the Great War. Popular distrust in the Freedom Party and the newfound strength of Confederate paper money led to support for the newly appointed Whig president Burton Mitchel. The Socialists also have no better notion about what to do with the blacks in North America, and ignore the plight of those in the Confederacy.

Literary significance and reception

Peter Canon in his review for Publishers Weekly said that "watching historical processes in action is the novel's real attraction. Knowing what happened in our timeline, readers will want to imagine the results of different choices." Don D'Ammassa writing for the Science Fiction Chronicle found this book more interesting than the last three because "Turtledove spends more time with his characters and with the motives behind the various developments rather than dwelling on the inevitable military encounters."

Notes

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