Legal Stuff

Settling Accounts: The Grapple by Harry Turtledove

Published by Del Rey Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

In a world where the South won the Civil War and the United States is no longer the bright City Upon the Hill, a second worldwide war rages on. It is not precisely like our Second World War, but the parallels grow chilllingly with every passing day.

Confederate President Jake Featherstone continues his bitter pogrom against his nation's Negro population, even as the tide begins to turn against his armies in the field. But the word is out of the horrible crimes he is committing against his own people, and in the US Congress a Jewish Congresswoman, Flora Blackford, refuses to allow other lawmakers to sweep it under the rug. All too familiar with prejudice against her own people in the Tsarist Russia her ancestors fled, she does not find it at all preposterous that human beings could commit such inhumanities, and is all the more sternly resolute that it should be stopped.

Thus a significant amount of US military force is focused upon reaching and taking an enormous installation in the middle of Texas, in which thousands of colored people are murdered each day. While some generals begrudge the apparent loss of fighting force that could be applied to other, more actively contested, fronts, Congresswoman Blackford knows that the propaganda coup which will result from hard evidence of Featherstone's atrocities will renew the fighting will of her homeland as never before.

Turtledove continues his wide-canvas approach, following the lives of dozens of characters across the length and bredth of a divided land that should have been a City on the Hill, a beacon of democracy.

Review posed December 14, 2008

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