Settling Accounts: Drive to the East
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eBook by Harry Turtledove
eBook Category: Alternate History
eBook Description: Harry Turtledove--the master of alternate history--has recast the tumultuous twentieth century and created an epic that is powerful, bold, and as convincing as it is provocative. In Drive to the East he continues his saga of warfare that has divided a nation and now threatens the entire world. In 1914, the First World War ignited a brutal conflict in North America, with the United States finally defeating the Confederate States. In 1917, The Great War ended and an era of simmering hatred began, fueled by the despotism of a few and the sacrifice of many. Now it's 1942. The USA and CSA are locked in a tangle of jagged, blood-soaked battle lines, modern weaponry, desperate strategies, and the kind of violence that only the damned could conjure up--for their enemies and themselves. In Richmond, Confederate president and dictator Jake Featherston is shocked by what his own aircraft have done in Philadelphia--killing U.S. president Al Smith in a barrage of bombs. Featherston presses ahead with a secret plan carried out on the dusty plains of Texas, where a so-called detention camp hides a far more evil purpose. As the untested U.S. vice president takes over for Smith, the United States face a furious thrust by the Confederate army, pressing inexorably into Pennsylvania. But with the industrial heartland under siege, Canada in revolt, and U.S. naval ships fighting against the Japanese in the Sandwich Islands, the most dangerous place in the world may be overlooked.
eBook Publisher: Random House, Inc./Ballantine Books, Published: 2005
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2008
1 Reader Ratings:
"Turtledove [is] the standard-bearer for alternate history." -- USA Today
"The author handles his huge cast with admirable skill. The insights into racial politics elevate this novel to a status above mere entertainment, although it provides that aplenty." -- Publishers Weekly
"Powerful . . . demonstrates Turtledove's continuing mastery of historical fiction . . . almost impossible to praise too highly." -- Booklist (starred review)
"Turtledove never tires of exploring the paths not taken, bringing to his storytelling a prodigious knowledge of his subject and a profound understanding of human sensibilities and motivations." -- Library Journal
"Nobody plays the what-if game of alternative history better than Turtledove. . . . This book begins a panoramic story, a new trilogy at least, that promises to be immensely fascinating." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Every antiaircraft gun in Richmond seemed to thunder at once. The sky above the capital of the Confederate States filled with black puffs of smoke. Jake Featherston, the President of the CSA, had heard that his aviators called those bursts nigger-baby flak. They did look something like black dolls--and they were as dangerous as blacks in the Confederacy, too.
U.S. airplanes didn't usually come over Richmond by daylight, any more than Confederate aircraft usually raided Washington or Philadelphia or New York City when the sun was in the sky. Antiaircraft fire and aggressive fighter patrols had quickly made daylight bombing more expensive than it was worth. The night was the time when bombers droned overhead.
Today, the United States were making an exception. That they were, surprised Jake very little. Two nights before, Confederate bombers had killed U.S. President Al Smith. They hadn't done it on purpose. Trying to hit one particular man or one particular building in a city like Philadelphia, especially at night, was like going after a needle in a haystack with your eyes closed. Try or not, though, they'd flattened Powel House, the President of the USA's Philadelphia residence, and smashed the bomb shelter beneath it. Vice President La Follette was Vice President no more.
Featherston wasn't sure he would have deliberately killed Al Smith if he'd had the chance. After all, he'd hornswoggled a plebiscite on Kentucky and the part of west Texas the USA had called Houston and Sequoyah out of Smith, and triumphantly welcomed the first two back into the Confederacy. But he'd expected Smith to go right on yielding to him, and the son of a bitch hadn't done it. Smith hadn't taken the peace proposal Featherston offered him after Confederate armor sliced through Ohio to Lake Erie, either. Even though the USA remained cut in two, the country also remained very much in the war. The struggle wasn't as sharp and short and easy as Jake had hoped.
So maybe Al Smith was better off dead. Maybe. How could you tell? Like any Vice President, Charlie La Follette was the very definition of an unknown quantity.
But it was only natural for the United States to try to take revenge. Kill our President, will you? We'll kill yours!
U.S. Wright-27 fighters, no doubt diverted from shooting up Confederate positions near the Rappahannock, escorted the bombers and danced a dance of death with C.S. Hound Dogs. Level bombers, two- and four-engined, rained explosives down on Richmond.
With them, though, came a squadron of dive bombers, airplanes not usually seen in attacks on cities. To Jake's admittedly biased way of thinking, the CSA had the best dive bomber in the world in the Mule, otherwise known on both sides of the front as the Asskicker. But its U.S. counterparts were also up to the job they had to do.
That job, here, was to pound the crap out of the Confederate Presidential residence up on Shockoe Hill. The building was often called the Gray House, after the U.S. White House. If the flak over Richmond as a whole was heavy, that over the Gray House was heavier still. Half a dozen guns stood on the Gray House grounds alone. If an airplane was hit, it seemed as if a pilot could walk on shell bursts all the way to the ground. He couldn't, of course, but it seemed that way.
A dive bomber took a direct hit and exploded in midair, adding a huge smear of flame and smoke to the already crowded sky....