In England, Irish-born citizens are being herded into prison camps. On the high seas, a furious British Navy is seizing American cargo ships bound for Europe. And on the Thames, a new weapon of unparalleled destructive force is sailing toward an impregnable city-spearheaded by a daring act of espionage. For U.S. president Abraham Lincoln, Britain's Queen Victoria, Lord Palmerston, and a loyal opposition, a day of reckoning is at hand . . . and so is history's most astounding battle.
Harry Harrison's series of alternate history, based on the U.S. Civil War, stands as a provocative work of imagination, drama, and brilliant historical insight. Now in the thrilling finale, Harrison tells a stunning, action-packed story of America's rapidly growing military might being locked, loaded, and aimed at the heart of England itself.
For the two countries that share a language and a heritage, the conflict began at the dawn of the U.S. Civil War. Just as America was about to tear itself to pieces, Britain itself committed an act of war by seizing a U.S. packet ship. In retaliation, the Confederate States rejoined the Union and took up arms against England. Repulsing a British invasion, and defeating her majesty's army first in Canada, then in Mexico, then in Ireland, American pride and power swelled. Britain, like a wounded lion, howled in shame and anger. Now, Queen Victoria's empire is more dangerous than ever before, turning against the Irish on her own soil, flexing her naval might, and all but forcing a weary President Lincoln to authorize the next step in a headlong journey toward war.
A tale of daring and strategy, Stars and Stripes Triumphant explores how arrogance turns superpowers into victims, how regional conflicts can explode into world wars, and how the personalities of a few men and women can change the course of history itself-for better or for worse.
The third and final book in Nebula Award-winner Harrison's entertaining alternate history of the American Civil War (Stars & Stripes Forever; Stars & Stripes in Peril), in which the two sides reunite against a common enemy after the British Empire attempts to intervene on behalf of the South and sacks Biloxi by mistake, comes as something of a letdown. Making use of new technology, the new American command of Sherman, Lee, Grant and Jackson adapt their real-life strategies and tactics into what would be later known as blitzkrieg and deliver a defeat that the stubborn British aristocracy cannot accept. Much of the fascination of the previous entries was in how the reintegrated Army (and nation) functioned. Here, much of the Southern flavor is absent, replaced by the Northern juggernaut moving as mechanically as its components. The depiction of the British ruling classes as jingoistic bigots, and of Queen Victoria as a worthy grandmother to Kaiser Wilhelm II, was never subtle in the first two books, but here it descends to caricature, although it does remind us that our Special Relationship with the United Kingdom was by no means inevitable. If the conclusion arrives as no surprise, at least its manner will interest fans. Taken as a whole, this insightful series shows how the elements of modern warfare could have combined much earlier, and just how little the U.S. and the U.K. had in common in the 1860s.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 01, 2003
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Excerpt from Stars and Stripes Triumphant by Harry Harrison
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
The threat of war, and war itself, has plagued my presidency of these United States of America ever since my inauguration. Instead of a peaceful handing over of presidential power, a continuation of the rule of law with which this country is blessed, it has proved to have been an administration of strife. The dissension began even before my tenancy of the White House, when the Southern states attempted to sunder their bond with the Federal Union and organize a confederacy. Once this new alliance had fired on the Federal troops in Fort Sumter the die was cast. War was inevitable. There was no way to return to the path of peace. Thus began the Civil War in America that pitted brother against brother in deadly battle. I hesitate to think what the outcome would have been had these hostilities been allowed to run their course; surely it would have meant a nation sundered and brave men dead by the thousands. That is what would have happened in the very least. At worst it would surely have meant a national catastrophe, the destruction of this country as we know it.
But fate intervened. What began as a small incident, the capture of the British mail packet Trent by the American warship the USS San Jacinto, was inflated, blown up out of all proportion by the British government. As president, I would have been happy to release the two Confederate ministers who were taken from the Trent had the British government, Lord Palmerston and Queen Victoria in particular, shown any understanding of our position. Despite all of our efforts at peacemaking, they persisted in their intransigence. My government could not, would not, give in to threats and imprecations at the highest level issued by a foreign power. While we in America worked for a peaceful solution to our national differences, they appeared to want nothing less than a headlong confrontation. While my government was locked in battle with the Southern secessionists, we still had to deal with this militant foreign power.
Alas, international peace was not to be. Defying all logic, the forces of the mighty British Empire invaded this sovereign land.
The world knows what happened next. With our nation threatened from the outside, the Civil War, the battle between our government and the seceding states, was ended. The result was that a reunited United States fought back against these invaders, the common enemy. It was not an easy war--none are--but in the end the strength of our common cause was such that the invaders were repulsed and hurled back from our shores. Disheartened by our victories, the enemy was sent packing as well from Canada, when that nation declared its liberty from colonial rule.
Throughout this war I learned to depend on General William Tecumseh Sherman to fight and to win. He was respected and admired by our Northern troops, and it became a matter of the greatest importance that the officers of the Southern army regarded him highly as well. They appreciated his knowledge and attitude toward the South, as well as his warrior skills--respected the man so well that they were willing to serve under him in the battle against our common enemy.
Finally that invasion and war was ended and we were at peace. Or were we? Unhappily this was not to be the end of our struggle. The Lion of the British Empire had lost battles before--but had never lost a war. Try as hard as they could, it appeared that the British simply could not swallow this defeat. Despite all attempts at sweet reason upon our part, they persisted in their bellicosity to the extent that they attempted another invasion of our country, this time through the war-torn land of Mexico.
My generals, now more experienced and wise in the ways of war, devised a counterplan to contain this threat. Instead of our armies being bogged down in a war of attrition on our borders, it was decided to take the war closer to the enemy shores. Thus the American invasion of Ireland began. The proposed enemy invasion from Mexico was quickly terminated as the British realized that their forces were needed closer to home.
I am proud to say that not only did our forces prevail against the enemy in Ireland, but in fact succeeded in liberating that much-stricken nation.
I pray that this national rivalry between our two great countries will now end. These last months my mind has been occupied with domestic matters, not international concerns. During the past August of the year 1864, the Democratic National Congress nominated Judah P. Benjamin as their presidential candidate: a worthy man, without whose unstinting aid, peace, and reconciliation in the South would not have been attained. It was my pleasure to be nominated by the Republican Party for a second term, with Andrew Johnston of Tennessee standing for vice-president at my side.