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Great piece of alternate history literature.First class read. Bring the Jubilee A brilliant alternative history where the South prevailedOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureBring the Jubilee is a fairly obscure alternate history story published in 1953 in which the South won the War for Southron Independence In this world, Robert E Lee succeeds Jefferson Davis as the second president of the Confederacy in 1865 The Confederacy steadily expands its empire through Mexico and South America Its chief rival is the German Union, which splits control of Europe with the Spanish Empire In response, the Confederacy has allied with Great Britain, creating two opposing empires that straddle the Atlantic.Strangely enough, slavery was abolished but minorities continue to face persecution, and poverty is rampant in the United States, the former Union states of the North Other than a rich landowner minority, most people are indentured to their owners, effectively a form or slavery In addition, the combustible engine, light bulb, and aircraft were never invented, instead they have steam powered minibiles the equivalent of cars and dirigibles, so horses or trains are still regularly used for transportation The telephone was also not invented, so the telegraph is the main means of communication.The main character is a directionless youth named Hodge Backmaker who leaves his impoverished life in the countryside of Wappinger Falls, Pennsylvania to move to New York, one of the few cities in the North to still thrive in a North America dominated by the Southron Confederate States He comes to NY eager to get into a university, only to immediately be robbed of his possessions Though great luck he manages to find work at a bookshop, reading almost constantly to educate himself He develops a close relationship with the proprietor, who turns out to be in league with the Grand Army, a subversive organization devoted to restoring the United States to its former greatness.The story then takes a sudden turn, as Hodges decides to leave NY and join a small progressive intellectual co op in rural Pennsylvania He pursues his dream of becoming a historian dedicated to studying the war between the North and South, gets involved in a love triangle, and then encounters a device that could help him very directly in his research, with totally unexpected consequences The story is extremely well written, informed by the initially ignorant but intellectually hungry mind of Hodge His desire to pursue pure knowledge for its own sake in a poor, downtrodden North that has been left to decay after losing the war, and where blacks, Asians, Jews and other races are treated cruelly and with contempt, is not what you would expect of an alternate history tale centered around the Civil War.I wouldn t even have known about this book if it weren t featured in David Pringle s Science Fiction The 100 Best Novels and I m glad I read it It presents so many brilliant little details of his alternate world, but the main story revolves around the life and thoughts of the main character, so that I often felt prevented from seeing the bigger picture of his alternate world, and despite the depth of characterization, this book could have been longer and complex, taking time to explore his concept, and most likely have made a greater impact in the SF field If he was writing today, I think it would have been just the first book in a long and successful series As it is, it s a minor classic that few people have read, and I d like to change that. What a wonderful surprise this was Ok, my expectations should have been high starting another book in the SF Masterworks series but I hadn t heard much talk of this author and wasn t overly bowled over by the premise This is an alternative history story, what might have happened if the south had won the American civil war.The speculations are themselves quite interesting, The American north becoming impoverished and backward, allowing the European colonial powers to carry on dominating the world stage for longer, the Confederate south becoming powerful, conquering Mexico Also of interest are the different technological paths that are explored leaving the world in 1952 without aeroplanes, cars and electricity but far developed in other ways such as in hot air balloons and gas utilisation.More interesting though is the story of the central character Hodge A natural book worm and academic who grows up in a world that has no place for such impractical people At first he merely wants to read and learn about the world, to take no active part in its affairs, nor take sides with those political and agitating forces mobilising around him Can he merely observe and chronicle or is inaction itself just another form of action, a choice that may shape events one way or another And does he really have a choice or is freedom itself merely an illusion A superbly written tale with well drawn characters and a pleasing narrative style Now I can t wait to check out what else this author has to offer. I read this years ago, when I devoured the whole corpus of SF I enjoyed it then, and when I picked it up again after decades on the shelf, I was surge I d like it even.I now know a great deal about America and I ve been to Gettysburg I m not entirely sure that possessing Little Round Top would have swung the whole war, but it would certainly have changed the entire tone of the battle if Lee had secured it on the first day.But we don t get there for a long while Moore takes his time, setting the scene, filling in the history of the defeated North and giving us tantalising glimpses of affairs in the wider world It s a hard life in what s left of the USA, and the penniless protagonist is lucky to find shelter and employment with an oddbod bookseller.Drawn into shadowy affairs, things turn sticky, and has he really escaped to a better place when he falls in with some arcadian academics There s sex and spice, history and conflict before the fateful trip into the past, to stand at a turning point in history.I love time travel stories Apart from the sense of anachronism Good morrow, milord, can st inform me whereabouts of a batterymonger there are all the delightful possibilities and paradoxes What happens if you accidentally or deliberately kill your own ancestor If you can change the past, will you also change the future, or is the universe self repairing Moore sketches in the outlines of this puzzling world that is at once past and future The 1930s as they never were But might have been And he gives us enough details to illustrate how odd it could have been If the USA had not been a prosperous and inventive hub of industry during the latter Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, what technologies might have gone undiscovered No Henry Ford to bring motoring to the masses.No Wright Brothers to bring us flight No Edison, no Bell to harness electricity.I m reminded of Stephen King s recent expedition into time travel, where we find out what ramifications JFK had on the world A single point in time where history teeters A man in a Dallas warehouse, another in a peach orchard Ordinary people in ordinary places, and yet the world forks.This is one of the classics of science fiction and time travel It is paradoxically timeless. An interesting novel based on the idea and in the world where the South won the American Civil War and how America would look and how this affects the rest of the world. One of the first If south had won the war novels, and still one of the best The book has aged quite well, and it s still an engaging read In this short novel you will find no decisive battle descriptions, no grand army movements, in fact, it s situated in time two generations after the War of southron independence , and is narrated by a historian This is definitely one of the most enjoyable books about alternate history I ve ever read, and I wonder what took me so long. An alternate history tale in which the South won the Civil War The main part of the story takes place some 60 years after the war and the United States just the North has fallen into disarray after its disastrous loss to the South I found this part of the book fascinating, with interesting speculation on how the state of the world changes if the United States breaks up if a bit outlandish at times view spoiler However, the book starts to lose its appeal when the author tries to reconcile this alternate timeline with our own through the use of science fiction and the invention of a time machine The section on the building of the time machine and its design was quite awful just a bunch of jargon tied together and equations to be worked out I have a prejudice against time traveling in fiction either you re too simplistic and introduce too many logical inconsistencies or you attempt to deal with the paradoxes and the book becomes a joyless pain to read This book takes the first path and when the narrator inadvertently helps the North to win the alternate timeline just disappears If you must attempt to reconcile both timelines, don t do it at the end and leave a bad taste in my mouth Do it in the beginning, such as in Lest Darkness Fall and give me the rest of the book to forget about your lazy and ill conceived solution.In summary, I loved the alternate history portion of the book, but hated the attempted timeline reconciliation at the end Just tell the alternate history there s no need to introduce time travel and muck up the book hide spoiler 5.0 stars THE BEST ALTERNATIVE HISTORY TIME TRAVEL STORY I HAVE EVER READ This book has been on my to be read pile for years and I did not have overly high expectations when I finally opened the book Well, I was blown away by both the writing and the story In brief, the plot concerns an alternate history in which the South won the Battle of Gettysburg and, eventually, the Civil War Thus the story takes place in a world where the Confederate States of America is a separate, prosperous country and the United States of Ameirca is a poor, declining one.I was very impressed by Ward Moore s style of writing and I thought his characterization was superb Reading the book was a pleasure and I was actually sorry when I came to the end as I wanted the story to continue If you are a fan of alternative history or just of fan of great stories pick this book up You will not be disappointed HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION Bring the Jubilee is one of the earliest alternate histories, set in a United States that lost the American Civil War after a decisive Confederate victory at Gettysburg The South has gone on to forge its own empire sprawling across Mexico and Central America, a center of learning and culture that rivals the British Empire and German Union Meanwhile, the impoverished North lies divided and embittered after the failures of their generals and Lincoln, having undergone its own Reconstruction to become a destitute nation of wealthy landowners ruling over indentured workers Politics are divided between Whigs promoting trickle down Reaganomics and incompetent Populists Even though slavery has been abolished, minorities face persecution, unjustly blamed for defeat by way of Lincoln s Emancipation Proclamation.Into this setting comes Hodge, a young man striving to become a scholar in a backwater village that offers him nothing but indentured servitude at the local mill Directionless but with plenty of ambition, Hodge sets off with his few belongings for New York, a seedy and pale shadow if its real world self To follow his dream of becoming a historian of the War of Southron Independence, Hodge is pulled into the machinations of a subversive almost terrorist organization called the Grand Army, which eventually sends him off to an isolated research institute of higher learning Little does Hodge know, but the experiments going on at this facility may unintentionally reshape his world The first half of Bring the Jubilee is something like a meandering travelogue it reminds me of those future histories from the 30s, in that it s interested in displaying its fantastic setting rather than developing a deep or complex character or plot To be fair, the setting is well realized and vivid, offering a cornucopia of ideas for its impressive setting without giving too little or too much detail The world is lived in and realistic, down to the petty cruelties heaped upon minorities in a run down and decaying North The story takes a sudden turn about halfway through, focusing on Hodge, his love interest Catty, and the research station, which is where the real meat of the plot begins it s a spoiler, but realizing that the novel is also a time travel novel gives you some idea where Moore is taking the story He takes that path and does it well, and the end result is an impressive novel that offers plenty to think about.Though I can criticize the novel for its thin plot and characterization Hodge is something of an everyman turned passive narrator until nearly the end of the novel I can t under emphasize how awesome its setting was Moore s brilliance here was a simple one he took history and flipped it, switching the roles of the Southern and Northern halves of the United States after the culmination of the American Civil War We don t see every detail of this imagined world, but the snippets we do see are striking, and I m still impressed by a post Reconstruction North tearing itself apart during a 1942 election where Thomas E Dewey of Dewey defeats Truman fame wins the Whig nomination and election It s that attention to detail that impresses me as a history buff, though those who aren t as familiar with the minutia should still find plenty to enjoy here.Bring the Jubilee is a complex and thoughtful novel, and while it s shallow in some places it has surprising depth in others I would love to see a little added to this novel a little insight into Hodge, complexity, world and setting details, of everything but alas, those fall beyond the limitations of 1950s publishing which limited most novels to under 200 pages That desire to see isn t a condemnation of the novel, which is arguably in the top 20 of its era it s the wish from a fan to improve upon a novel already so close to perfection Bring the Jubilee is the kind of novel that a non SF fan would greatly enjoy, and those who read extensively in the genre could do worse than dig out this old gem and give it a go.