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Settling Accounts The Grapple by Harry Turtledove
Review by Harriet Klausner
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0345457250
Date: 25 July, 2006 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Although the Blacks were given their freedom after the Civil War they had no rights or privileges and were not considered citizens. President Featherston who hates the black man as much as he hates the "damn yankees" vowed to take care of both problems. In 1941 he declared war on the USA and for two years he and his army won many victories, taking Kentucky and Texas in a plebiscite vote and conquering as far into the USA as Ohio and Pittsburgh.

As for the Negro problem they were no longer needed on farms and plantations as machines now did the work they once was forced to do. Featherston vows to have a black free white nation and rounds up Negroes and puts them in concentration camps to be killed by gas. The USA has a hard time believing this is happening but Congresswoman Flora Blackford and Assistant Secretary of War Franklin Roosevelt know the truth and they try to do something about it but the troops needed to liberate the blacks are fighting on another front. Harry Turtledove is the grandmaster of alternate history and Settling Accounts: The Grapple is alternate history in its purest form with no magic or sword and sorcery battles. The battle field of World War II is played out on the North American Continent with Mexico allied with the confederacy.

The Hitler in this tale is Featherston whose solders use the word Freedom the way the Fuhrer's henchmen used "Heil Hitler". The freedom party is the equivalent of the Nazi Party and Blacks not Jews are forced into concentration camps. There is much political strategy and battle scenes that move the story line along and most characters are used in different capacities as symbols of the war effort. Readers look at the cast as archetypical figures because they are used only as in terms of the role they represent in the war. The audience doesn't get anything else beyond their job as soldiers. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating and enthralling work that will grab and keep reader interest. This is the third book in the Settling Accounts saga and it is a stand alone book that is the best in the series to date.

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