After winning two wars between the states, and losing the last, the USA becomes so socialist and so contrite that she cant/wont see the storm that brews to her south. At the same time Jake Featherston makes a series of power grabs to seal up his control over the CSA. This allows him to set the stage for revenge against the USA and the CSA's war department that held him back and let down his beloved CSA.
This report prepared by coorsman
Del Rey, August 2003, 24.95, 512 pp.
In a world that never was but could haven been, the Confederacy won the War of Succession and the United States had to recognize them as a sovereign nation. As the victors, they imposed certain restrictions on the way the United States governed itself. When the Great War broke out, the United States was the winner, wrestling territory away from the Confederacy and bringing it into the union.
To prevent Britain from ever being a threat in the USA again, the army marched into Canada and made it a territory of America. Canada is no longer a recognized country and all laws and military rules come from the American Army of Occupation. Texas is part of the CSA but during the Great War, the US annexed part of the state naming it Houston and bringing it into the Union. Sequoyah is a part of the USA but like Houston and Kentucky (which was also forcibly brought back into the USA) they want to rejoin the CSA.
There are very few blacks in the USA and most of them live in Kentucky. Former slaves trying to leave the CSA are turned back at the US border. When the world plunges into a Depression, the fascist Freedom party elects Jake Featherston president. He uses strong-arm tactics against his enemies, takes control of the radio and newspapers and sets up internment camps for political prisoners and Red Negroes. He begins building tractors and farm equipment at a fast rate so that the Black sharecroppers become redundant. Many resort to fighting a guerrilla war while others go begging for menial jobs in the cities.
Under the terms of the 1917 Armistice, the CSA military is sharply curtailed but Featherston finds ways of getting around the restrictions. He is slowly building up the military strength of the CSA to the level it was in 1863. His freedom party goons are agitating in Sequoyah, Houston and Kentucky for a plebiscite and the socialist president of the USA finally allows the people of those states to vote on whether they want to stay in the USA or leave and rejoin the CSA. Many people in both countries believe that another war between the USA and CSA is inevitable.
Harry Turtledove is the recognized grand master of alternative history and in AMERICAN EMPIRE: THE VICTORIOUS OPPOSITION he shows his talent grows with each book he writes. The Freedom Party can be compared with the rise of the Nazi Party in our universe and just like the SS troopers; the high-ranking members in the party use the same strong-arm tactics to cow the populace. Instead of Jews being discriminated against, the Blacks are the scapegoats. France and Russia sided with the confederacy and when they lost the war, they had to obey the terms of the armistice but they are unhappy and ready to go to war again to regain their freedoms. France especially wants to regain Alsace-Lorraine from Germany but are wary of fighting the Germans a third time.
The characters in this novel are real people representing all walks of life so that the reader has a very visual picture of what life is like in this altered universe that seems similar but is so very different from our own. The CSA president is not a likable man and freedom lovers will despise him but the audience will understand that many of his constituents want him in office so that he can turn their country around and make it a world power.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner