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Settling Accounts: Return Engagement by Harry Turtledove
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0345457234
Date: 03 August, 2004 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

From the sands of Sonora to the shores of Lake Erie, Harry Turtledove returns us to the alternate path started in How Few Remain. The first book in the new trilogy, Settling Accounts: Return Engagement, will excite and scare you-- and possibly even outrage some. Atrocity and anger pile up and neither side pulls any punches. See how WWII could have been fought if a few things were different.

Turtledove's large cast of characters is back, but for those of you just joining the action, here's what you'll find...

Jake Featherston, veteran of the Great War and now President of the Confederate States of America (CSA), wants revenge. And he will have it one way or another. The two groups he hates the most are the United States (USA) and the negroes. He's launched a war against the United States to pay back the "damyankees" for their victory, and he looks like he's on the way to winning this time.

Clarence Potter fought Featherston?s rise to the top of the CSA. Because (in an ironic twist of fate) he saved Featherston from an assassin, he was recruited to lead the CSA's espionage program. Before long, though, he starts thinking about counterespionage. Traitors are everywhere on both sides of the border, and it?s his job to find them.

The Colleton family have supported the Freedom Party through the years, but now Anne and Tom must face the CSA being back at war. Death is everywhere, both on the front lines and in the streets of the CSA.

Lawyer Jonathon Moss tried his best to help the people of occupied Canada, then lost everything he loved to a vicious bomber. When he rejoins the air corps, he finds that nobility has left flying and only death remains. The fighting is more vicious and faster than anything he saw during the Great War, and he fears that he cannot keep up with the younger pilots around him.

In occupied Canada, Mary Pomeroy - daughter of an infamous bomb-making insurgent - raises her family but hasn't set aside her venomous hatred for the United States. Now that war is here, it seems the time is right to pick up where she left off. But there are those who know (or at least suspect) her secrets... and she must deal with them first.

Col. Irving Morrell and Gen. Abner Dowling of the US Army face a new war, one the USA isn?t ready to fight. Short of supplies and equipment, they are desperate to prevent the USA from falling to the CSA -- but know their best efforts are doomed to fail as the Confederate juggernaut rolls forward.

Armstrong Grimes is in the army and it isn?t at all what he expected. After training he is sent west, now that The Mormons of Utah have once again risen. They fight to the death and ask for no quarter, forcing Armstrong to either rise to the occasion or fall.

Chester Martin fought the confederates in the Great War, and spent the last few years fighting to improve workers rights in California. When the labor strikes end suddenly, he goes back to swinging a hammer. But with the demands of his nation calling, he wonders what his role should be. With a family depending on him, no choice will be easy.

With the death of Sylvia Enos, who avenged the death of her husband through a Confederate submarine's treachery, young George Enos has gone to sea like his father did. As the new war dawns, he narrowly escapes death, but now he must choose where life should take him.

Elsewhere on the seas, Sam Carsten serves on the aircraft carrier USS Remembrance. As a mustang - a seaman who rose to officer rank - his future isn?t bright compared to younger, Annapolis-trained officers, but he has a valuable insight that doesn't go unnoticed. Even as the British, Confederates, and Japanese set out to sink his ship, Carsten's abilities may yet prove invaluable.

Hipolito Rodriguez fought in the Great War; now his oldest son fights in the current one. Since the CSA has fewer young men than the U.S., conscription may demand that old men step forward. The Freedom Party improved his life-- but will they now demand it in payment?

Jefferson Pinkard has seen a lot, and the Mexican War gave him experience in running prisoner of war camps. This skill is put to use in Louisiana, but as the prisoner population rises steadily (with no increase in supplies), Pinkard is running out of options. None seem very promising, until he hits upon a diabolical idea inspired by a horrific tragedy.

On a mission to help his aged father care for his senile mother, Cincinnatus Driver ended up trapped in Kentucky. Injury and poor timing now keep him away from his wife and children. With the war on and tensions rising, Kentucky seems like the last place he wants to be, but he knows several of the players behind the scenes and isn't out of the fight yet.

From the Colletons' estate to the black quarter of Atlanta, Scipio has seen a lot in his life. He only wants to survive and raise his family. But Atlanta isn?t as safe as it could be, especially for a black man. Not when the Freedom Party has dire plans for Scipio's people and agitators give them a reason for harsh repressions.

Once again, Harry Turtledove has done a brilliant job of balancing the viewpoints of many characters. He is a master of alternate history and does not disappoint. His stories show you major events through the eyes of people who are living through them. One of the greatest enjoyments of this novel is the inclusion of a few major players from our own timeline. Had things gone differently, see where FDR, Patton, and MacArthur end up. Make sure you don?t miss this book, or you might just have your population reduced.

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