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January 5, 2012

Book Review - Amerikan Eagle by Alan Glenn

I love alternate history. I love thinking about what would have happened if something else we all know about had happened differently. What if Abraham Lincoln hadn't been assassinated? What if Hitler hadn't wasted three months invading the Balkans before turning on the Soviet Union? What if the assassination attempt on FDR had actually succeeded in 1932? (This is something I didn't even know had happened).

Alan Glenn takes a look at this last one in his latest book, Amerikan Eagle. In it, Glenn sees a country that ends up being run by Huey Long, a country where there is only one party and "Long's Legionnaires" are roving the countryside trying to stifle dissent. Where the United States is not going to get involved in World War II, and instead Long is striving to create a socialist utopia. With him at the top, of course.

It's an interesting book with a fascinating concept, and one that I knew I had to pick up immediately once I read the synopsis. For me, the appeal of alternate history is the concept, and that can often overpower any writing deficiencies in the book itself. That's why I read as much Harry Turtledove as I do, when the topic is interesting. I usually can't stand Turtledove's writing, but what he does with the concept is enough to hook me and guide me through the book, even if I cringe at some of the prose.

Glenn isn't that bad, but the book does have its issues.

My review is now up on Curled Up With a Good Book.

From the review:
"In 1943, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is becoming a hot spot for events that may change the world. Sam Miller is the newly appointed Inspector (there's only one in the city) whose first case is the body of a man dumped on the railroad tracks with a number tattooed on his wrists. Sam's just a man trying to look out for his family, but the events sparked by this discovery will change his life forever, revealing family secrets that will shock him and thrusting him into the dark underside of the world that President Huey Long has created."
The main problem with the book, in addition to an ending that I didn't see coming (mainly because I find it silly and not fitting the rest of the book, and thus couldn't have predicted it) is that it works overly hard to showcase the oppressive atmosphere. I could almost feel the book closing in on me sometimes, giving me a bit of claustrophobia. Glenn really does a good job giving the reader an idea of what life in this society would be like.

He just overdoes it to the point where it detracts from the enjoyment of the book.

Check out my review for more of my thoughts on the book. It's an interesting book, and I do recommend it.

With a caveat, though.


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