In a war room in Washington, William Tecumseh Sherman and General Robert E. Lee huddle together and plan their next, joint military operation. In the jungles of Mexico, Ulysses S. Grant is locked in brutal combat with the best of the British Army. And in the heart of the new American South a fragile peace is threatened . . .
In the dazzling alternate history of Harry Harrison, this is the world as it stands in 1863. Just three years before, a titanic Civil War loomed in America. But an incident involving a British ship and two Confederate spies changed everything. As Abraham Lincoln defied Britain's Lord Palmerston, tensions between the two nations boiled over�and Her Majesty's Navy unleashed an attack on American soil aimed at bolstering the Confederate cause. The results were catastrophic. A stunned North and South put aside their differences and a new kind of war erupted, with Americans fighting side by side against the British on two fronts: in the South and on the Canadian border. Now, Britain has been defeated and America is struggling to keep its union together�until another blow is struck.
It comes from Mexico, where elite units of Her Majesty's Army�including the famed Gurkha fighters�are massing for a possible attack through Texas. Into the gauntlet Lincoln sends his chosen angel of death, General Grant. But the weary president knows that two centuries of British power will not be ended with a single battle. So his top soldiers, including Lee and Sherman, plan the most daring naval invasion ever launched: an assault on British soil itself. And in a secret that must be protected by an underground army of spies and secret agents, the U.S. will invade the Emerald Isle�to set the Irish free at last.
Filled with real characters on both sides of the conflict, Stars and Stripes in Peril is the new masterwork from one of our most provocative authors. Harry Harrison brilliantly examines the machinations that drive our world, the choices that shape the future, and the people and passions that compose nations both great and small. Venturing beyond a fascinating question of what if, Harrison shows how technology and world politics had the power to shape history's first great World War�half a century before it began.
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October 01, 2001
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Excerpt from Stars and Stripes in Peril by Harry Harrison
There, in the center of London, his statue sits in Imperial Roman splendor, toga-garbed and carved in finest marble. Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, his memory enshrined in what is probably the ugliest monument in the world; the Albert Memorial. He was a kind man and much loved by the Queen; he brought her true happiness. But did this Saxon prince, who never lost his thick German accent, ever do anything of any importance? Other than father the future king. He certainly did. He averted war with the United States. In 1861 the American Civil War was still in its first murderous year. Britain and France, to the dismay of the North, were planning to recognize the South as a separate nation. Now the British steam packet Trent was taking the two newly appointed Confederate commissioners, James M. Mason and John Slidell, to England to represent President Jefferson Davis. On the eighth of November 1861 the Trent was stopped at sea by the USS San Jacinto. When her commanding officer, Captain Wilkes, found that there were two rebels aboard the Trent he had them arrested on the spot and removed from the British ship. England was aroused, furious. The War of 1812, when Britain had been at war with the newly established United States of America, was still fresh in memory. With the Northern blockade of the Confederate ports biting deep, there was little cotton from the South and the weaving mills of the North were facing bankruptcy. The Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, saw the boarding of a British ship and the seizing of the passengers as a deliberate insult to Britain's sovereignty. The Foreign Minister, Lord John Russell, echoed the public sentiment when he sent a dispatch to President Lincoln ordering him to release the men immediately--or suffer the consequences. British troops and thousands of rifles were dispatched to Canada and troops massed on the United States border. Enter the peaceful Prince Albert. Already terminally ill with lung congestion--which was in reality typhoid fever caught from the foul water supply and drains of Windsor Castle--he did a rewrite of the dispatch, ameliorating the language and giving Lincoln a face-saving way out. Queen Victoria approved of the changes and it was sent to Washington. On December 26 President Lincoln ordered that the two Confederate commissioners be released. Sadly, Prince Albert would never know that he had averted what very well could have been a tragic confrontation. He had died on the fourteenth of the same month. But consider for a moment what would have happened if he had not changed the fatal dispatch. What if Lincoln had been forced by the strong language to ignore the ultimatum? What if the British invasion of the United States had gone forward? What if there had been war? NOVEMBER 8, 1861 The USS San Jacintorocked gently in the calm seas of the South Atlantic; blue water below, blue sky above. The fire in her boiler was banked and only a trickle of smoke rose up from her high funnel. The Bahama Channel was only fifteen miles wide at this point, near the Parador del Grande lighthouse, a bottleneck through which all the island traffic funneled. Captain Charles D. Wilkes stood on the bridge of the American warship, hands clasped behind his back, staring grimly toward the west. "Smoke in sight," the lookout stationed in the crow's nest called out. "East southeast." The captain did not move as Lieutenant Fairfax repeated the sighting. The ship that he was waiting for would be coming from the west--should be coming soon if his calculations were correct. If the reports from the Union spies in Cuba could be believed, the men he was seeking should be on board. The chase so far had been a frustrating one; all about the Caribbean. The wanted men had been one step ahead of him ever since he had sailed from Florida. This would be his last chance to apprehend them. If he were wrong, and the Trent did not take this passage between the islands, she would now be safely on her way back to England and the pair would have escaped. The decision he had made to station his ship here in the Old Bahama Channel was based completely on speculation. If the two men had indeed boarded the Trent, and if the steam packet had left Havana as scheduled--and if she took this course to St. Thomas, why then she should be here by noon at the latest. He started to reach for his watch, then stopped, not wanting to reveal eagerness or doubt before the crew. Instead he squinted up at the sun; surely it was close to the meridian. He clasped his hands even tighter behind his back and the scowl deepened on his face. Five minutes went by--they could have been five hours--before the lookout called out again. "Steamer ahoy! Just off the port bow." "Raise steam," the captain ordered. He slammed his fist on the rail.