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Settling Accounts: Drive to the East by Harry Turtledove

Published by Del Rey Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

In the second volume of the Settling Accounts series, the latest installment of Turtledove's mega-series about a world in which the South won the Civil War, Jake Featherstone's fascist Confederacy continues to exploit its gains in its war of vengeance upon a Union still reeling from the death of its President in a night bombing raid. Confederate tanks spearhead a relentless drive toward Pittsburgh, seemingly poised to cut the country in two.

But now whole ghettoes are being stripped of their populations, being sent to those mysterious camps to the east. Camps from which people never return, camps which seem capable of absorbing an infinite number of inmates without any sign of overcrowding.

Camps not all too different from those which absorbed endless numbers of Jews in our own world, as the reader learns. Perhaps that is the greatest horror of this novel, the way in which otherwise decent human beings allow themselves to become progressively involved in atrocity, all the time telling themselves they are simply doing their duty, solving administrative problems. It is in this very lack of hatred, this dispassionate commission of hideous crimes in the name of bureaucratic efficiency, that the core of the horror of this book lies.

Review posted December 15, 2008

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