"Engaging alternative history"
The Great War is over with the United States of America and
its ally Germany victorious. For the Confederate States of
America it means their first defeat with all the
acrimonious accusations following the loss. The noble
victories in the War of Secession and the Second Mexican
War seem like distant history lessons though not much more
than a half of a century has passed.
By 1924, a new generation replaces the glorious war leaders
with the incumbents fighting to hold on to their power
while insurgents want to grasp authority. In the United
States of America, post war prosperity is the greatest the
nation has ever known so the in party has the edge. In the
Confederate States of America, the defeat is
psychologically damaging and the economy is as depressed as
ever. Civil war explodes in Mexico and the USA control of
Canada is tenuous due to terrorist activities of separatist
freedom fighters. Violence fueled by poverty even among
the winners threaten control. However, the American Empire
learns that the CENTER CANNOT HOLD when the aerial attack
from Asia occurs.
Insightful, the latest entry in the AMERICAN EMPIRE: THE
CENTER CANNOT HOLD demonstrates why Harry Turtledove is so
highly regarded. The detailed plot adheres to the time
line and anecdotal information from the previous novels,
but moves the clock forward at a very slow pace. Fans of
the series will want to see what happens to their heroes
during the 1920s, but casual readers need to realize that
era is a relatively quiet decade even in the Turtledove
alternate world when compared to the previous generation's
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted July 7, 2002
In this spectacular, thought-provoking epic of alternate
history, Harry Turtledove has created an unparalleled
vision of social upheaval, war, and cutthroat politics in a
world very much like our ownóbut with dramatic differences.
It is 1924óa time of rebuilding, from the slow
reconstruction of Washington's most honored monuments to
the reclamation of devastated cities in Europe and Canada.
In the United States, the Socialist Party, led by Hosea
Blackford, battles Calvin Coolidge to hold on to the Powell
House in Philadelphia. And it seems as if the Socialists
can do no wrong, for the stock market soars and America
enjoys prosperity unknown in a half century. But as old
names like Custer and Roosevelt fade into history, a new
generation faces new uncertainties.
The Confederate States, victorious in the War of Secession
and in the Second Mexican War but at last tasting defeat in
the Great War, suffer poverty and natural calamity. The
Freedom Party promises new strength and pride. But if its
chief seizes the reins of power, he may prove a dangerous
enemy for the hated U.S.A. Yet the United States take
little note. Sharing world domination with Germany, they
consider events in the Confederacy of little consequence.
As the 1920s end, calamity casts a pall across the
continent. With civil war raging in Mexico, terrorist
uprisings threatening U.S. control in Canada, and an
explosion of violence in Utah, the United States are rocked
In a world of occupiers and the occupied, of simmering
hatreds, shattered lives, and pent-up violence, the center
can no longer hold. And for a powerful nation, the ultimate
shock will come when a fleet of foreign aircraft rain death
and destruction upon one of the great cities of the United
States. . . .