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May Books 7) Alternate Generals

7) Alternate Generals, ed. Harry Turtledove (with editorial assistance from Roland Green, and Martin H. Greenberg getting copyright credit)

Collection of alternate history pieces with a military theme. Most of these were pretty unmemorable. "And so - Nelson fought for the French! Napoleon joined the church! Custer lived and was elected president!" If the entire story can be summed up in half a sentence I wonder why I bothered reading the rest.

Three did stand out from the crowd for me. "Billy Mitchell's Overt Act", by William Sanders, and "Vati", by R.M. Meluch, both made the same historical point from opposite directions: they have a brilliant air commander in the second world war whose decisions manage to put his side in a much better tactical position, with, ironically, much worse strategic consequences than in our time-line. An interesting contrast.

The most fun was Lois Tilton's "The Craft of War". The idea is a little more subtle than most: Sun Tzu, exiled from China, is hired by the Persians and helps them conquer Greece. The story is told as a Socratic dialogue between Socrates himself and Alcibiades, and Tilton succeeds in casting the characteristic style of Sun Tzu in Socratic terms. My one regret was that she didn't do much with the acerbic character of Socrates himself, but this was the one story in the book that left me wishing I knew more about the historical background.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 16th, 2006 06:34 am (UTC)
I have to agree with you about "The Craft of War." I found it the most enjoyable story in the book.

Admittedly, I only picked up the book in the first place because of the David Weber story. Sometimes, I hate being a completist.
May. 16th, 2006 09:59 am (UTC)
The best alternate-generals story I've ever read is Howard Waldrop's Ike at the Mike. Eisenhower and Patton as ancient rival swing-era big band musicians trying to blow each other off the stage at a presidential reception in front of Sen. Elvis Presley and Ambassador William Pratt (Boris Karloff)... now that is alternate history.

May. 16th, 2006 01:07 pm (UTC)
I really liked Turtledove's "Guns of the South, and having taken many classes about the Civil War, found the whole idea rather plausible.
Unfortunately, right after that I read the "Two Georges" (co-written by Richard Dryfuss, I think) and another whose name I can't remember about the USA being influnced heavily by Dutch Protestantism or some sort that kind of swore me of the genre for awhile.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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