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June 19, 2005

Harry Turtledove Has Another Fan

The Synecdochic Professor writes:

The Synecdochic Prof: Pleasure and alternate history: Turtledove has some interesting ideas about the other ways that North American history could have developed. Turtledove is not really a great stylist... But I still keep reading... there's something compelling about the way that Turtledove has used this alternate universe to comment on the relationships among Americans that interest me: the history of race and class, for instance; the impact of organized labor and the lack of a profound presence of socialism among the leading political parties; and the relationship of national politics to the international aspirations of the U.S.

Moreover, Turtledove is a realist at heart. He knows that his readers want the dramatic turns of his alternate history (the book I'm reading know has a Hitleresque Confederate president leading his country to war), but he's really more interested in the quotidian: how small changes in technology affect daily life, the slow evolution of spoken language; the nuanced stratification of status in supposedly egalitarian societies. I would have a hard time recommending this to someone who wasn't (as I am) a certain kind of history geek, but I think I'll slogging through the final three books (3 books x 600 pages means 1800 more to go) of this...

Posted by DeLong at June 19, 2005 10:39 PM