The Guns of the South

The Guns of the South

by Harry Turtledove

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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"It is absolutely unique--without question the most fascinating Civil War novel I have ever read."
Professor James M. McPherson
Pultizer Prize-winning BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM
January 1864--General Robert E. Lee faces defeat. The Army of Northern Virginia is ragged and ill-equpped. Gettysburg has broken the back of the Confederacy and decimated its manpower.
Then, Andries Rhoodie, a strange man with an unplaceable accent, approaches Lee with an extraordinary offer. Rhoodie demonstrates an amazing rifle: Its rate of fire is incredible, its lethal efficiency breathtaking--and Rhoodie guarantees unlimited quantitites to the Confederates.
The name of the weapon is the AK-47....
Selected by the Science Fiction Book Club
A Main Selection of the Military Book Club

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345384683
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1993
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 149,910
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 14.00(h) x 0.12(d)

About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart, The Guns of the South, and How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the War That Came Early novels: Hitler’s War, West and East, The Big Switch, Coup d’Etat, and Two Fronts; the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance;the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, andIn at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

Read an Excerpt

January 20, 1864
Mr. President:
I have delayed replying to your letter of the 4th until the time arrived for the execution of the attempt on New Berne. I regret very much that the boats on the Neuse & Roanoke are not completed. With their aid I think success would be certain. Without them, though the place may be captured, the fruits of the expedition will be lessened and our maintenance of the command of the waters in North Carolina uncertain.
Robert E. Lee paused to dip his pen once more in the inkwell. Despite flannel shirt, uniform coat, and heavy winter boots, he shivered a little. The headquarters tent was cold. The winter had been harsh, and showed no signs of growing any milder. New England weather, he thought, and wondered why God had chosen to visit it upon his Virginia.
With a small sigh, he bent over the folding table once more to detail for President Davis the arrangements he had made to send General Hoke’s brigade down into North Carolina for the attack on New Berne. He had but small hope the attack would succeed, but the President had ordered it, and his duty was to carry out his orders as best he could. Even without the boats, the plan he had devised was not actually a bad one, and President Davis reckoned the matter urgent …
In view of the opinion expressed in your letter, I would go to North Carolina myself But I consider my presence here always necessary, especially now when there is such a struggle to keep the army fed & clothed.
He shook his head. Keeping the Army of Northern Virginia fed and clothed was a never-ending struggle. His men were making their own shoes now, when they could get the leather, which was not often. The ration was down to three-quarters of a pound of meat a day, along with a little salt, sugar, coffee—or rather, chicory and burnt grain—and lard. Bread, rice, corn … they trickled up the Virginia Central and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad every so often, but not nearly often enough. He would have to cut the daily allowance again, if more did not arrive soon.
President Davis, however, was as aware of all that as Lee could make him. To hash it over once more would only seem like carping. Lee resumed: Genl Early is still in the—
A gun cracked, quite close to the tent. Soldier’s instinct pulled Lee’s head up. Then he smiled and laughed at himself. One of his staff officers, most likely, shooting at a possum or a squirrel. He hoped the young man scored a hit.
But no sooner had the smile appeared than it vanished. The report of the gun sounded—odd. It had been an abrupt bark, not a pistol shot or the deeper boom of an Enfield rifle musket. Maybe it was a captured Federal weapon.
The gun cracked again and again and again. Each report came closer to the one before than two heartbeats were to each other. A Federal weapon indeed, Lee thought: one of those fancy repeaters their cavalry like so well. The fusillade went on and on. He frowned at the waste of precious cartridges—no Southern armory could easily duplicate them.
He frowned once more, this time in puzzlement, when silence fell. He had automatically kept count of the number of rounds fired. No Northern rifle he knew was a thirty-shooter.
He turned his mind back to the letter to President Davis. —Valley, he wrote. Then gunfire rang out again, an unbelievably rapid stutter of shots, altogether too quick to count and altogether unlike anything he had ever heard. He took off his glasses and set down the pen. Then he put on a hat and got up to see what was going on.
At the tent fly, Lee almost collided with one of his aides-de-camp, who was hurrying in as he tried to leave. The younger man came to attention. “I beg your pardon, sir.”
“Quite all right, Major Taylor. Will this by any chance have something to do with the, ah, unusual gun I heard fired just now?”
“Yes, sir.” Walter Taylor seemed to be holding on to military discipline with both hands. He was, Lee reminded himself, only twenty-five or so, the youngest of all the staff officers. Now he drew out a sheet of paper, which he handed to Lee. “Sir, before you actually see the gun in action, as I just have, here is a communication from Colonel Gorgas in Richmond concerning it.”
“In matters concerning ordnance of any sort, no view could be more pertinent than that of Colonel Gorgas,” Lee agreed. He drew out his reading glasses once more, set them on the bridge of his nose.
Bureau of Ordnance, Richmond
January 17, 1864
General Lee:
I have the honor to present to you with this letter Mr. Andries Rhoodie of Rivington, North Carolina, who has demonstrated in my presence a new rifle, which I believe may prove to be of the most significant benefit conceivable to our soldiers. As he expressed the desire of making your acquaintance & as the Army of Northern Virginia will again, it is likely, face hard fighting in the months ahead, I send him on to you that you may judge both him & his remarkable weapon for yourself. I remain,
Your most ob’t servant,
Josiah Gorgas,
Lee folded the letter, handed it back to Taylor. As he returned his glasses to their pocket, he said, “Very well, Major. I was curious before; now I find my curiosity doubled. Take me to Mr.—Rhoodie, was it?”
“Yes, sir. He’s around behind the tents here. If you will come with me—”
Breath smoking in the chilly air, Lee followed his aide-de-camp. He was not surprised to see the flaps from the other three tents that made up his headquarters were open; anyone who had heard that gunfire would want to learn what had made it. Sure enough, the rest of his officers were gathered round a big man who did not wear Confederate gray.
The big man did not wear the yellow-brown that was the true color of most home-dyed uniforms, either, nor the black of the general run of civilian clothes. Lee had never seen an outfit like the one he had on. His coat and trousers were of mottled green and brown, so that he almost seemed to disappear against dirt and brush and bare-branched trees. A similarly mottled cap had flaps to keep his ears warm.
Seeing Lee approach, the staff officers saluted. He returned the courtesy. Major Taylor stepped ahead. “General Lee, gentlemen, this is Mr. Andries Rhoodie. Mr. Rhoodie, here is General Lee, whom you may well recognize, as well as my colleagues, Majors Venable and Marshall.”
“I am pleased to meet all you gentlemen, especially the famous General Lee,” Rhoodie said.
“You are much too kind, sir,” Lee murmured politely.
“By no means,” Rhoodie said. “I would be proud to shake your hand.” He held out his own.
As they shook, Lee tried to take the stranger’s measure. He spoke like an educated man, but not like a Carolinian. His accent sounded more nearly British, though it also held a faint guttural undertone.
His odd clothes aside, Rhoodie did not look like a Carolinian, either. His face was too square, his features too heavy. That heaviness made him seem almost indecently well fleshed to Lee, who was used to the lean, hungry men of the Army of Northern Virginia.
But Rhoodie’s bearing was erect and manly, his handclasp firm and strong. His gray eyes met Lee’s without wavering. Somewhere in his past, Lee was suddenly convinced, he had been a soldier: those were marksman’s eyes. By the wrinkles at their corners and by the white hairs that showed in his bushy reddish mustache, Rhoodie had to be nearing forty, but the years had only toughened him.
Lee said, “Colonel Gorgas gives you an excellent character, sir, you and your rifle both. Will you show it to me?”
“In a moment, if I may,” Rhoodie answered, which surprised Lee. In his experience, most inventors were wildly eager to show off their brainchildren. Rhoodie went on, “First, sir, I would like to ask you a question, which I hope you will be kind enough to answer frankly.”
“Sir, you are presumptuous,” Charles Marshall said. The wan winter sun glinted from the lenses of his spectacles and turned his normally animated face into something stern and a little inhuman.
Lee held up a hand. “Let him ask what he would, Major. You need not forejudge his intentions.” He glanced toward Rhoodie, nodded for him to continue. He had to look up to meet the stranger’s eye, which was unusual, for he was nearly six feet tall himself. But Rhoodie overtopped him by three or four inches.
“I thank you for your patience with me,” he said now in that not-quite-British accent. “Tell me this, then: what do you make of the Confederacy’s chances for the coming year’s campaign and for the war as a whole?”
“To be or not to be, that is the question,” Marshall murmured.

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The Guns of the South 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story 4 stars, quality of the ebook 1 star. I have read and enjoyed this book several times, and is why I made it my first eBook purchase. I am sorely disappointed in the quality of the eBook. The number of typos, incorrect words and even incomplete sentences is absolutely ridiculous. It is clear that there was no editorial oversight whatsoever when the print book was converted to an eBook.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a piece of fiction and is intended for the personal pleasure of the reader. Of course it isn't realictic- if you are looking for a historical piece of writing intended for the knowledge of the reader go find a history book. Now back to business. The Guns of The South is a very interesting book and the action mixed with military strategies are very intriguing. It gives you a better understanding of what really would have happened if the south did win the war. Contrary to popular beleif, i did not find this book to be far-fetched but I did feel that certain parts inbetween fighting and military plotting were very boring. This book is overall, however, a good one , worthy of buying and reading. If you enjoy science fiction or alternate history you will like this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the book that first introduced me to Alternate History storytelling. A simple cover that delivers a profound message, something does not belong. This difference catapults the reader into a whirlwind of possibilities leaving the imagination spinning for weeks after the last page has been turned. Hearwarming characters true to their histories follow new paths that lead to fortune, ruin, and endless possibility. A wonderful read and a excellent first step for anyone interested in the ever elusive question: What if...?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A blast to read. Semi-thougtful escapism. Yes, it has its slow moments in the middle, but is much better than most of his novels, which tend to take off like gangbusters and then slow way down after the first few chapters and end in sort of a muddle. A good book with interesting characters drawn from actual historical records. His first "World at War" series is fun, also, but the second series wasn't that hot. Those who are offended by Turtledove's fantasized Civil War history might enjoy "The Flying Dutchmen" by Suhrer, one of the more entertaining books I have read lately
bookwormusa More than 1 year ago
The Guns of the South was a well written novel. I would say it was one of Harry Turtledove's best works. With actual facts and realistic history points, this is a wonderful alternative history. A book of "What If" that tops them all. This is a must read for alternative history readers, history fanatics. With a good plot and believable characters, anyone would enjoy this read. CC: on my blogspot(
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is at once a compelling story about what might have happened if the Confederate forces had the benefit of modern firearms and ammunition and a commentary on attitudes and prejudices not only in the South of the 1860s but in the world of the 21st century. 'Guns of the South' is the prototypical 'page turner' ... read the forst 50 pages and you will not be able to put it down. Guaranteed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a wonderfully written book. It is extremely accurate in its portrayal of the attitudes of the historical figures such as Abraham Lincon and Nathan Bedford Forrest. It gives a view of the bigotry of some people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of my first books when i really started to read. I also read the second enstalment to this classic tale and find it just as good
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story ideal is a good one..'what would have happened if the South won the Civil War?'. The only drawback I could find was that there was less altenate battles leading up to story line and a lot more of politics/story line. All in all it's a good book for people that like to think about..'What if?'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book that explores many issues and is a blast to read. Would make a good movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I try not to award five stars too often, as the rating system oversimplifies somewhat. Some of the earlier reviews, I think, miss the point. This book is not so much about the Confederate States of America winning the Civil War, it's about how the CSA becoming their own country would affect their lifestyle and policies. The plot with the advanced weaponry is, I feel, more of a means than an end; the character of Robery E. Lee is well defined and written, as is most of the dialogue; the political scenes, which a previous reviewer derided as 'a waste of time', are truly the meat of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so awesome.I reccommend this book to anyone up for a great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What I expect in an alternate history is to shed some new light on historical persons and events by considering what could have been. Harry Turtledove¿s Guns of the South fulfill that. Turtledove does this by shows how Southerners, in particular Robert E. Lee, might have behaved had the Civil War taken a sudden turn in the South¿s favor in 1864. When I was young, I sometimes talked to Confederate and Union veterans and to people who lived through that conflict in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri. Turtledove¿s portrayal of characters like Nate Caudell and the redneck storekeeper Liles made some of these people I knew so long ago live again. I intend to continue with his How Few Remain.
Scotman55 More than 1 year ago
If you like historical fiction with a dash of science fiction yet mostly a history of what the South would be like without losing to the Union, then this book is for you. What I appreciated about Turtledove is how he did not make a big issue about 21st century politics from the white racists who stole a time machine and traveled to the waning days of the US Civil War. Not only was there a lot of emphasis on life in the trenches, military strategy of Grant and Lee, but also what the parties at Jeff Davis’s house were like, what the slaves thought (not enough on this view) and following the life of Nate Claudell and Molly Bean (a woman who dresses as a man to fight in the war, and parttime “whore”) and what they go through in all this. The Afrikaans want a white racist state that will ally itself with Nazi Germany in the future. They settle in to a town called Rivington (fictional) and immediately begin their reign of terror not only on the Union, but their manipulation of the men and women of the South. Pretty intense story here. The Afrikaans though are a bit cardboard characters; Turtledove does not build them up to any great degree. There are funny moments as when he introduces the Confederate soldiers to instant coffee and freeze-dried meals. The discovery of 20th century books, the way General Lee uses the information of the future to help not only his own political ends but the ends of his country are fascinating. The Afrikaans really shoot their own foot – if they were trying to create a slave state, why were they treating the Black man so badly – worse so than the Confederates were! Final Note: Some may bristle a bit in making the South the good guys in this story, but frankly they were really coming of age as a nation, realizing what they were doing not only with demanding slave rights but also state rights, and realizing they were part of a global economy (pretty radical in 1868!). The fates of Lincoln, Grant, and even Hayes are revealed. Check it out, not a bad read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wish cod give more then five stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A history teacher imagine what would happen if the Confederacy had access to twentieth-century weaponry---
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by Turtledove I have read. I find it very facinating how he puts together the alternate timeline. I now consider myself a fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
my enjoyment of the story was spoiled by the very poor quality of the text which was riddled with formatting, spelling, punctuation and capitalization errors. otherwise my rating would be probably four stars instead of one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought Guns of the South was a very good novel. I think it portrayed the generals very well. Other than Nathan Bedford Forrest.He was not the devil against blacks as depicted.He treated yankees equally bad black or white. Other than that. It held my attention. i read it in 4 days. And being only 19 years of age i think is very rare. I hope Turtledove's other books are just as good or better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the plot and the details (I used to daydream of a time machine to to take me back to help out my ancestors in this struggle), but what I enjoyed the most was the study of the author's perception of the characters. I especially admired his treatment of Lee, who is often thought of more as a battlefield general than as a very serious minded, compassionate person. Finally, I loved his treatment of slavery and the ultimate condemnation of it by the South.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book's main idea (the effects of putting advanced weaponry in the hands of Civil War 'frontal assault' generals) is enticing, and its development here is both believable and satisfying. The author has done his history homework, and it shows. It must be said, though, that once this original hook wears off, there is little else here to write home about. Outside of the military-strategy scenes, the plot is drastically oversimplified, and at times even silly. Worth checking out, but not a cover-to-cover winner. Skip to the battles and enjoy.
neverwondernights on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quite enjoyable through and through. Robert E. Lee and Nate Caudell were both wonderful main characters, and each worth their part in the story. Turtledove did indeed do his research, as he often does, quite well. The only turn down was a chapter worth of a battle scene, however does more to accentuate some of the more illustrious and riveting scenes later on.
Anguirus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not what I was expecting. A bit dull in the middle.
kcslade on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good story of attempt to change the outcome of the Civil War with time travel and modern weapons.
joyceclark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I bought this book after hearing parts of it read aloud on NPR. It's the first novel my husband has sat down and read in over a year. I am always encouraging him to take a book when he travels, but usually he just watches TV or plays videogames to relax. Harry Turtledove struck a chord. He devoured this book, diving into it at every opportunity, and is looking forward to reading more Turtledove.