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The Timeline 191 series is Harry Turtledove's most sweeping Alternate History work so far: Either ten or eleven books (depending on who's counting). Set in a world where the Union failed to intercept a message (Special Order 191, hence the timeline's name) intended for a Confederate officer before Antietam, which resulted in an independent Confederate States of America, complete with slavery. The series proper starts around World War One, although the series is sometimes known by the title of its prequel book, How Few Remain, which takes place in the 1880s.

The installments of the series :

  • How Few Remain (1997)
  • The Great War : American Front (1998)
  • The Great War : Walk In Hell (1999)
  • The Great War : Breakthroughs (2000)
  • American Empire : Blood and Iron (2001)
  • American Empire : The Center Cannot Hold (2002)
  • American Empire : The Victorious Opposition (2003)
  • Settling Accounts : Return Engagement (2004)
  • Settling Accounts : Drive to the East (2005)
  • Settling Accounts : The Grapple (2006)
  • Settling Accounts : In at the Death (2007)

The Timeline 191 series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder
  • All for Nothing: Despite eighty years as a sovereign nation, it looks like the Confederacy's fate is to once again become part of the United States of America.
  • Allohistorical Allusion:
    • Irving Morrell meets a German Sergeant that has both won the Iron Cross, First Class, and expresses virulent hate towards Jews and Slavs. This should remind you of someone.
    • Because Abraham Lincoln was never assassinated in this timeline, John Wilkes Booth never yells his famous "Sic Semper Tyrannis!" battle cry. Instead, Frederick Douglass yells it while shaking his fist at Stonewall Jackson.
    • The Confederacy launches its blitzkrieg against the United States on June 22, 1941. It's called "Operation Blackbeard".
    • Also in the series after the US Navy devastates the British Pacific Fleet in a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour, a Confederate character calls the incident a "day that will live in infamy".
    • The Battle of Midway (between the Union and Japan) takes place on December 7, 1941. The Union loses all of their fleet carriers in the battle, forcing them to rely on escort carriers for the rest of the war.
    • In this Timeline, Japan is the only major power involved in World War II that isn't the victim of a nuclear bombing.
    • An especially odd one is two men named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who are experts at bugging rooms, despite the real Woodward not yet having been born at the time while Bernstein was only one year old. Turtledove later said that they were added as a joke and identified the third member of their surveillance team as Richard Nixon.
    • Mark Twain is a newspaper columnist in San Francisco using his real name of Samuel Clemens (see below) and scoffs at the idea of becoming an author, stating that the minimal pay would not be worth it.
    • Dowling's objections to MacArthur's plans for an amphibious invasion of the Virginia coast to circumvent Confederate defenders around Richmond hearken back to the ill-fated Peninsula Campaign of 1862.[1] Only the setting is updated. In particular, Dowling cites every single thing that went wrong with the campaign in real life as reasons why the plan should not go forward.
    • In this timeline, the Emancipation Proclamation sits in draft form on Lincoln's desk as he negotiates a ceasefire with the Confederates and their British and French allies at the beginning of How Few Remain.
  • Alternate History : And not a very pleasant one either (considering a lot more countries end up being militaristic superpowers armed to the teeth or become battlefields of the various post-ACW conflicts).
    • And ending in a full-on atomic war, with bombs going off everywhere. (Except Japan, ironically enough.) To wit: Philadelphia was the first city nuked, by a bomb driven into the city on a truck by Confederate infiltrators. Newport News (near Richmond) and Charleston, both by the USA; the former as an attempt to assassinate Jake Featherston (Hitler-analogue) and the latter because it was one of the few Confederate cities not already completely destroyed or occupied. The Germans went on a huge spree, nuking St. Petersburg, Paris, London, Norwich, and Brighton, the last three as retaliation for the British nuking Hamburg. Aside from Hamburg, the British also dropped another bomb, probably intended for Berlin, but the plane carrying it was shot down and the bomb fizzled somewhere on the North German plain.
  • The American Civil War : The history of this alternate world diverges from ours in 1862, when the Battle of Antietam never takes place and Lee is able to defeat McClellan decisively on a field of his choice. In this timeline it's called the "War of Secession".
  • Analogy Backfire: In How Few Remain, Schlieffen quotes the Latin phrase "Vae Victus" (meaning "Woe to the Conquered", first said by Brennus the Gaul when he defeated the Romans in battle) when he's telling President Blaine that he has no choice but to accept defeat in the war with the Confederates. Blaine quickly points out that it was the Romans, not the Gauls, that ultimately won that war. Sure enough, America bounces back and ends up trouncing the Confederates in World War I.
  • Anonymous Ringer: There's a de-emphasis on geopolitics, so many characters are just referred to by title. Mind you, it's not difficult to figure out who "the Kaiser" and "the Tsar" are.
  • Anti-Villain: Clarence Potter, who ends up as the Confederate Army's Head of Intelligence and masterminds the near-destruction of Philadelphia with a nuclear weapon. He's also somewhat aware of what's going on at Camp Determination. Despite all this, it's easy to sympathise with him, as Potter is clearly My Country, Right or Wrong. He even attempts to assasinate Featherston!
  • Anyone Can Die: Sadly Truth in Television, especially when it comes to viewpoint characters during both Great Wars. Taken to ridiculous extremes with some characters: Reggie Bartlett is randomly shot after tearing down a Freedom Party sign, Anne Colleton dies during the Remembrance's air raid on Charleston, and Nellie Jacobs dies from blood posioning caused by mishandling a chicken. A new viewpoint character usually takes over when another dies.
    • Turtledove is also fond of doing this at the very start of each novel - Bartlett and Colleton both die at the start of The Center Cannot Hold and Return Engagment.
  • As You Know: Turtledove often uses the characters to recap the alternate history and plots of the series by having characters engage in conversations or think to themselves about things that they would already know.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: General Custer's preferred method of winning battles. Nightmarishly wrong once trench warfare becomes predominant, though ironically it's Custer that ends up winning the war - just replace "soldiers" with "barrels"!
  • Author Appeal: The sex scenes. The fans don't approve. He's also fond of using Jewish characters.
  • Author On Board: Turtledove's analogy to Islamic fundamentalism. He chooses Mormons for the role.
    • Early Mormons were actually pretty close. Ask about Joseph Smith's "Hand of God" sometime.
    • They start out like this, but in later books the conflict that they inspire has a lot more parallels with The Troubles in Ireland, with the US playing the role of Britain.
  • Author Catchphrase: The phrase "It never even crossed his mind that..." or variations thereof shows up a lot to demonstrate some form of hypocrisy on the part of the viewpoint characters. Possible example of Narm, depending on your point of view.
    • There are also many, many instances of events happening "as if to punctuate what was just said."
    • "On Shank's mare" shows up in most of Turtledove's works set on Earth.
  • Black Shirts: The Freedom Party "Stalwarts" and Oswald Mosley's "Silver Shirts".
  • Badass Grandpa: General Custer is a pretty poor general, to the point where some of his underlings consider him a Pointy-Haired Boss, but a scene where he foils an assassination attempt (on himself) by throwing a bomb back at the would-be assassin before it explodes shows why he managed to rise so high in the military hierarchy in the first place.
  • Bland-Name Product: The most popular soft drink in the Confederacy is "Doctor Hopper".
  • Blood Knight: Gordon Mc Sweeney
    • Jefferson Pinkard is after his wife cheats on him.
    • So is Jonathan Moss after his family is killed.
  • Boisterous Bruiser
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Henderson FitzBelmont, head of the Confederate atomic bomb project
  • The Butcher : During the Second Great War, the Union gives Featherston the derogatory nickname "Jake the Snake" (or just "The Snake").
  • But We Used a Condom: When Flora Blackford reveals that she's pregnant, her husband's approximate reaction is to say, "Well, so much for prophylactics," and then he says, "This is wonderful!"
  • Butt Monkey: Scipio has to watch his back with almost everyone he encounters and his situation seems to go from bad to worse...all the way to the end.
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: Shows up often. Justified, since it's Alternate History and has a more America-centric 19. and 20. century.
    • The most obvious is tanks being called "barrels". Not as ridiculous as it sounds, as this was one of the names they were given during their genesis. The name "tank" actually comes from what the British claimed to be building. The British call their tanks "tanks" even in this alternate timeline, but it doesn't catch up internationally (much like "Char" is used only for French tanks and "Panzer" for German and Polish ones in our history). Tank destroyers are called "barrel busters".
    • Molotov Cocktails are called "Featherston Fizzes" after the President of the Confederacy. They hardly could have been named for Molotov, considering the White forces won the Russian Civil War and there is no Soviet Union.
    • The element neptunium is called "saturnium", and plutonium is called "jovium" (or "churchillium" if you're a Brit).
      • The US still calls the elements what they are called in our timeline. It's mostly because the Confederacy really hates the US.
    • Nuclear bombs are called "sunbombs" or "superbombs". And their mushroom clouds are aptly known as "toadstool clouds".
    • Suicide bombers are called "people bombs".
    • Radar is called "Y-range/Y-ranging" ("Y" for "wireless").
    • The Panzershreck-like antibarrel rockets used by the CS army in the Second Great War are called is called "Stove Pipes"
    • A certain Blackford is the US president during the Great Depression instead of Herbert Hoover, resulting in shanty towns of unlucky stockholders being called Blackfordburghs rather than Hoovervilles. In the Confederate States, they're called Mitcheltowns in "honor" of Burton Mitchel.
      • And the funny thing is, Blackford is succeeded by Hoover as President.
        • Throwing a little Allohistorical Allusion into the mix, Blackford's wife calls them "Hoovervilles" at least once in the series.
    • The influence of Imperial Germany on the US military and industry is also apparent once you realize The Union calls their monoplanes "one-deckers" (mirroring the German aviation terms "eindecker", "doppeldecker", "dreidecker" for a monoplane, biplane, triplane, etc.).
    • And a new word "flabble" (roughly synonymous with "whine") ends up gaining an awful lot of popularity.
    • Jet fighters are called "Turbos."
    • Characters routinely say they are 'throwing in the sponge' rather than throwing in the towel when they decide to call it quits on something.
    • In World War I, mustard gas is called "chlorine gas" [2].
  • Captain Ersatz / Expy: Several characters are parallels of famous figures from our own history, most notably Irving Morrell (Erwin Rommel) and Jake Featherston (Adolf Hitler).
    • Don't forget Flora Blackford, a.k.a. American Rosa Luxemburg.
      • That one may be more of a What Could Have Been than anything; fans have long suspected that Turtledove originally meant for the USA to lose the Great War and end up being the parallel to Weimar and later Nazi Germany. Had he gone this route, Flora Blackford would have been the Rosa Luxemburg parallel, while Gordon McSweeney would have been Hitler. As it stands, Blackford develops into much more an Eleanor Roosevelt Expy.
    • In-universe, the most popular comic book in the Confederacy is "Hyperman", a thinly-disguised Expy of Superman who was specifically created by the Confederates because they didn't want kids reading Superman comics, where he fight the evil Confederates.
  • Celibate Hero: Played straight and mildly subverted, with Jake Featherston being a rare Celibate Villain.
  • City of Adventure: Covington, Kentucky manages to become this by changing hands four times over the course of the series (and being the source of much intrigue from all sides in the interim).
  • City of Spies: Washington D.C., being much too close to the Confederate border to be a safe or effective US capitol, has become this at least through the First Great War.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Jerry Dover occasionally talks like this, when he isn't using other obscenities.
  • Cool Boat: The USS Remembrance, the world's first aircraft carrier.
  • Cool Plane : Several, though they're really just doppelgängers of various planes from our history
    • The US "Screaming Eagle" fighter jet used near the end of the Second Great War is basically a Messerschmitt Me-262 Schwalbe.
    • The CSA has the "Mule" dive bomber (a.k.a. "The Asskicker"), a Ju-87 Stuka with the serial numbers filed off.
    • From the vague descriptions, the standard US fighter is sounds like the P-47 while cover art portrays it as looking like the P-51. The Confederate fighter appears to be a turbocharged version of the P-39.
    • At least according to the cover illustrations, the Confederate "Razorback" bomber appears to be a B-17 Flying Fortress, although given their close ties to Britain it's probably an Avro Lancaster copy.
  • Crapsack World: The complete lack of anything resembling a free society anywhere on the planet. The USA and CSA are effectively police states (with the CSA becoming an outright dictatorship under Featherston) for all that they have elections and pay lipservice to individual rights. Every other country mentioned in the series is either a dictatorship, becomes a dictatorship, is under occupation by a dictatorship, or a puppet state of a dictatorship ( Quebec and Houston--later the whole once-again-independent Republic of Texas for the USA, with Haiti implied as a USA protectorate. Parts of Mexico and the whole of Cuba were annexed by the CSA, and the Empire of Mexico is heavily implied to be a puppet of the CSA.). World War One and World War Two equivalents playing out in full bloody detail in North America as well as Europe don't help matters.
    • As far as the USA is concerned, this may be YMMV. It's certainly true that the USA was close to a police-state during the period between 1881 and 1917, when it emulated its Imperial German ally in many spheres and the Democratic Party had a monopoly on the White House and Congress. However, after the USA's victory in the Great War, things loosened up a lot - not least in that the Democrats finally acquired serious political opposition in the form of the Socialist Party, which took the White House and both houses of Congress in the 1920 election and governed the USA with only one four-year break between 1920 and 1944. To cite just one example, once the Socialists got into power, labor unions (as seen in the Chester Martin storyline) had a far easier time of it organizing and agitating for better conditions and wages.
    • The USA has most of the North American continent either under direct military occupation or as puppet states (Texas, Quebec, likely fate of Cuba and Mexico) after 1944. Sustaining martial law in an area several times the size of the core USA probably will require its citizens to make even more sacrifices in the name of security. There are, however, indications that the USA's new acquisitions/puppets may fall into line. Perhaps most importantly, the Canadian resistance has been absolutely shattered, and most Canadians seem to be assimilating well (there are also indications that Candadian provinces will be granted statehood at some point). Texas will likely be able to govern itself. Cuba will probably be fairly pro-US, because it funded Fidel Castro's anti-Confederate rebellion. The US also has a lot of friends in Mexico, due to their funding of the (losing) republican side in their Spanish Civil War-analogue before WWII. Quebec has always been quiescent. As for the old Confederacy, though, it seems like the US will be in for a long insurgency.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Besides the Real Life European one between Germany and the Allies, there's also the main one between the USA & CSA, with each side winning a war and the losing side becoming dominated by a culture that aims to get revenge in the next war.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Sam Carsten has extremely fair skin, and burns easily - a bad trait for a sailor. As a result, he can often be seen slathering sunblock onto his skin, but it does little good - he still gets badly burnt. Forgotten all that? Don't worry, Sam will helpfully mention this every single time he makes an appearance. Multiply this by fifty other characters, and soon enough a 200 page book becomes a 500 page book.
    • Justified in that when he didn't do this in How Few Remain, people apparentlylost track of who was who. And that was a book where nearly all the major characters were real historical figures.
  • Dolled-Up Installment : Of How Few Remain... and of actual history.
  • Doorstopper : Guess.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Cincinnatus Driver, a lowly black truck driver in Kentucky, starts as an Action Survivor and ends up as a go-between for all sides (the USA, Confederates, and black Marxists) in the conflict during the First Great War, taking several levels in badass in the process. He eventually becomes a US auxilliary (despite being in his fifties) during the Second Great War. The man even had Teddy Roosevelt bail him out of jail and give him pocket money at one point!
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Goes hand-in-hand with Anyone Can Die. Nellie Jacobs dies from mishandling raw chicken, for God's sake!
    • Let's not even get started on poor old Sam Carsten. He's lived through both Great Wars, risen up through the naval ranks to the point where he's a well-respected officer...and then in one of his last scenes scratches a mole that bleeds, implying that his sensitivity to the sun has given him melanoma, a cancer that's usually fatal even now, and certainly would be in 1945.
  • Duel to the Death: Confederate General George S. Patton challenges Clarence Potter to one. Potter's choice of weapon ? He manages to defuse the situation by choosing flamethrowers.
    • Even so, Patton is completely willing to duel with flamethrowers, and the whole thing is laid to rest by Featherston himself (who realises how ridiculous the situation is).
  • Early Installment Weirdness: How Few Remain, the first book, is the only standalone novel in the entire series, and it is told completely from the point of view of historical characters [3]. Every book after it is part of a continuous arc with an established cast of fictional characters, most of whom are street-level everymen who occasionally act as The Gump. The 33 year Time Skip between How Few Remain and the rest of the series is also a bit jarring.
  • Everybody Smokes: Being a period piece, this isn't so unusual (though since it's alternate history, one could argue that he's not bound by the need to make 1940s society of this timeline look like the 1940s society of this one). In the First Great War, US characters occasionally mention that the quality of tobacco products have gone downhill since the war put an end to trade with the Confederacy. Used in moderation, it adds texture to the story by reminding us of something we wouldn't really think about. But in the Second Great War, people talk about it all the flipping time!! We GET it! But once Turtledove starts making his characters discuss cigarettes frequently, he never lets up. Never--The very last sentence of the series is about smoking.
    • This seems to be a common theme with Turtledove, as smoking and the relative quality of various brands of cigarettes shows up in nearly every one of his series (excepting settings in which tobacco doesn't exist/has not yet been discovered).
  • Expy: Mainly of the original timeline's equipment in use here. One example is the Confederate airforce's "Asskicker" dive bomber plane taking the place of the German Stuka. Most however go unnamed aside from technical descriptions like the caliber of tank guns.
    • 'Daniel' Mac Arthur is almost identical to the original timeline's Douglas Mac Arthur in temperment and professional skill. The only real difference is the use of a cigarette holder instead of a corncob pipe.
  • Face Heel Turn: Jefferson Pinkard and Jake Featherston start out as sympathetic soldiers of the Confederacy. Later on in the series, Jake Featherston becomes Adolf Hitler, and Jefferson Pinkard becomes Rudolf Hoess (commandant of Auschwitz in OTL).
  • False-Flag Operation: Both the Union of Confederacy make use of soldiers who sound like Southerners/Northerners and dress them in the other side's uniforms to cause confsion behind the lines. This is how Potter manages to smuggle a nuke over the border. His status as a Karma Houdini is only due to the Union doing the same thing.
  • Fan Disservice: Four words : Mark Twain's sex scene.
  • Fan Sequel : One of the members of Alternate History Dot Com has written one for the timeline's post-WWII years. Read it here. It isn't really finished yet and had been on hiatus since early 2010, but it's been recently updated again at the start of 2012. It is currently nearing the end of the 1960s.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Featherston-ruled Confederacy bears some resemblance to Nazi Germany. Also, the Mormon jihadists.
  • Father Neptune: Sam Carsten develops into him over the course of the series. Arguably, George Enos Sr. already was the civilian version before joining the Navy in the First Great War.
  • Foreshadowing: By the time the series gets to the inter-war period readers can probably guess what the next major event will be. Nonetheless, events like the Business Crash are foreshadowed by a number of civilian characters cheerfully describing how well their investments are doing.
  • For Want of a Nail: Special Orders 191.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: It's not uncommon for characters to disappear for a hundred pages before reappearing.
  • Four-Star Badass: Irving Morrell, once he's promoted that far.
  • The Fundamentalist / Straw Character: Gordon McSweeney oh so very much. He is so narrow-minded and judgmental that he confuses a Greek character's worry beads for a rosary, and labels him as a "Papist" from that point on. Even after other characters mention that the guy wasn't Catholic.
  • Game Mod: Several popular mods for Victoria and Hearts of Iron incorporate all or part of the events of Timeline 191.
  • Gatling Good: Armstrong Custer dislikes gatling guns even though he has personally used them to great effect against Confederates and their native american allies. He gets assigned a whole bunch of them and they play a vital role in defeating the British/Canadians at the Battle of the Teton River (the only U.S. victory during the Second Mexican War).
  • General Failure: Although his viewpoint chapters admit that he respects Custer, Abner Dowling thinks nonetheless thinks he's a senile old fool who ought to be replaced by Pershing or Morrell.
    • Dowling sees himself this way as well. In reality, he's considered by his Confederate counterparts as a formidable threat, able to improvise when the USA's lack of preparedness for the Second Great War rears its head and he is forced to make a fighting retreat through Ohio. Dowling has benefitted from years of experience covering for Custer's missteps. And for that matter, Custer, for all his deficiencies as a general, was a good professional mentor, and he did get a few things right.
    • Chinese Gordon (who is never encountered directly, but is glimpsed from afar during Custer and Roosevelt's skirmish with the British on the Canadian border during the 1882 war) is regarded by his opponents with bafflement for his attempts to use lancers on horseback against Custer's Gatling gun emplacement.
    • Pretty much Featherston's view of the entire Confederate general staff.
  • Get On With It Already: The aforementioned Department of Redundancy Department, combined with Readers Are Goldfish.
  • Gray and Gray Morality : One thing Harry can handle very well in his works and this series is no exception. By the time of the Second Great War, the US and CSA are much more morally grey when compared to each other than, say, the USA and Nazi Germany of our history. But since the SGW US is basically becoming a more benevolent equivalent of our Soviet Union, this is quite understandable.
    • Arguably evolves into Black and Gray Morality in the later stages of the USA vs. CSA conflict. The US is not without its faults - the occupation of Canada, the suppression of the Mormons in Utah, several war crimes, etc. - but the Confederacy under Featherston is unmistakably evil.
  • Heel Realization: Hipolito Rodriguez. A humble Mexican farmer and Freedom Party supporter from Confederate Sonora, Rodriguez ends up as a guard at Camp Determination. Faced with the horrible realisation that the blacks he's been feeding into the gas chambers are not enemies of the Confederacy, but actual human beings, he ends up eating his gun. This is stated to be a common occurrence at the camp.
  • Historical Domain Character: How Few Remain, where every viewpoint character was one. The rest of the series has original characters that frequently interact with people from our own history.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: George Armstrong Custer, of the "lucky idiot" variety.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: subclause "if not him, somebody else".
  • Info Dump: He generally manages to avert it, but there's one significant instance in the middle of the Settling Accounts arc when Featherston considers how the war has progressed in Europe almost as if he's narrating a story.
  • Insistent Terminology: The civil war is "The War of Secession" in this timeline.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The Great War begins the same way it does it our world, despite nearly fifty years of completely divergent history before it. While history in general becomes For Want of a Nail afterwards, historical characters still crop up in similar positions to where they would have been. Winston Churchill is still born - despite having an American mother - and is Prime Minister during the Second Great War.
    • Justified in that Churchill was born in 1874, while the animosity between the US and Britain doesn't start until 1881. It is strange that his being half-American never comes up though.
    • Also justified in that Churchill probably didn't advertise his ancestry heavily given the hostility between the two countries. As a relentless self-promoter early in his career, Chruchill would be unlikely to bring up anything that would jeopardize his prospects. He was also estranged from his parents in Real Life, and there's no reason to suspect that the family dynamics were altered by the changes in this timeline.
      • Though it should be noted that Churchill only becomes PM by forming a coalition government with the much more popular Oswald Mosley. If he hadn't, Mosley would have become Prime Minister instead.
    • One that bugs me even though it's obviously just something that Turtledove didn't think about : Emperor Maximillian of Mexico reigns into the 1880s, implying that the Austrian-French alliance that placed him on the throne in the 1860s succeeded due to the USA not being in a position to support the rebellion that toppled it in real life. In reality, there would have been more ripples from the success of this alliance, which was meant to be the first step in a joint Austro-French empire in the New World that would challenge Anglo-American dominance of the area, as well as the dominance in Europe of Prussia/Germany. However, it's never really brought up again, and Austria and France still end up on opposite sides of the World War I alliances.
      • The German Empire seems to be much stronger in this timeline, which may have led to Austria seeking out a stronger (and more geographically available) partner. France turns to Britain as a result, and the Hapsburgs on the throne in Mexico end up at odds with their Austrian cousins (but by this point the Confederates are pulling the strings, the Emperor is a figurehead, and Mexico was never at any point powerful enough to pose a threat to Austria anyway). In any case, Maximilian I though Austrian was primarily a French client (the Austrians were the junior partner in the scheme, having been defeated by the French in a fight over influence in Italy three years earlier). Resentment over the way Mexico worked out may have further driven Austria into the German camp.
      • Maximilian I had no children and adopted two grandchildren of Augustin Iturbide, the founder of the First Mexican Empire, as his heirs, establishing them as a cadet branch of the Habsburgs with no blood ties to the original dynasty. By the time the Great Wars take place, any connection with the Austrian Habsburgs is tenuous at best (and it's entirely possible that the Mexican Civil War--this timeline's Spanish Civil War Expy--resulted in a new dynasty on the Mexican throne for the Second Great War).
      • Franz Ferdinand and his wife (presumably Sophie, though unnamed) are assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, as in our own history, though they're killed by a bomb rather than gunshot (possibly Nedjelko Cabrinovic's bomb goes where it was supposed to when it's thrown). Butterflies might not necessarily have affected the death of Crown Prince Rudolf (or Rudolf may have died early anyway due to his various health issues - he had syphilis, for example), so it's not unreasonable to suppose that he would also have become Thronfolger (heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne) in TL-191. It's more doubtful, however, that he would ever have married Sophie Chotek, as history would have diverged enough by the time their relationship became serious in our own timeline (in 1898) that they might never have even had the opportunity to fall in love. (For that matter, Empress Elisabeth herself may never even have been assassinated in TL-191.)
    • Also, the early 20. century has two world wars and an economic Great Depression, starting and ending almost in the exact same years - which makes little sense, since a different outcome of the ACW would certainly influence history to be a lot different than ours. It becomes markedly ridiculous once you discover that Harry Turtledove has actuallly always been well aware of tropes like Butterfly of Doom and In Spite of a Nail - yet he never uses them in any of his Alternate History novels, possibly either because Rule of Fun or his perception that Readers Are Morons.
    • George S. Patton is a Confederate general in this timeline; whether or not he's the same George S. Patton as in our timeline is a matter for debate, as the historical Patton's maternal grandfather settled in California (a US territory in TL-191) prior to the Civil War[4], while his paternal grandfather remained in Virginia and fought for the Confederacy. In other words, TL-191 Patton is so awesome a character that he can survive even though his parents never met!
    • Fidel Castro appears as a Cuban revolutionary, but he may not be the same Fidel Castro as in our timeline. Castro in our timeline was the son of a Spanish conscript soldier who was sent to put down the rebellion in Cuba in 1895...long after the CSA seized Cuba in TL-191 (sufficiently long, in fact, for the historical Castro's father still to have been a young boy well below conscription age).
  • In the Past Everyone Will Be Famous: Several famous historical figures pop up. It's justified in most cases; a long-term Congersswoman and former First Lady being friends with Senator Robert Taft, or Irving Morrell, regarded as one of the world's foremost experts on barrels, meeting Heinz Guderian.
  • Iron Lady: Custer's effectiveness as a general and administrator improves dramatically when his domineering wife Libby shows up to accompany him at the front.
  • Istanbul Not Constantinople: Several times. London, Ontario becomes Berlin, Ontario after the Union occupies it; Roanoke, Virginia becomes Big Lick; and Hawaii is British-controlled until the Great War and is known as the Sandwich Islands.
    • The Roanoke example is actually a subversion of this trope. Big Lick is the city's original name. It was changed to Roanoke in 1882 (which, apparently, did not happen in the alternate timeline).
    • The London-Berlin thing in Ontario could be Harry leaving a Genius Bonus for the readers : A certain Canadian town called "Berlin" was renamed "Kitchener" after the start of our world's World War One.
      • Also, Oklahoma is Sequoyah[5], and a section of Texas ceded to the USA in the aftermath of the Great War is renamed Houston (not to be confused with the city of the same name in the CSA).
  • Karma Houdini: Clarence Potter.
    • As a nation, Imperial Japan. They're the only major power that doesn't get nuked in World War II, they betrayed their British and Russian allies, and they're left to rape and conquer most of East Asia because the USA is too concerned with its own North American concerns to give a crap about Japan other than making sure they don't attack the US's Pacific assets.
  • Lampshade Hanging: True to the genre, several characters wonder what their lives might have been like had history been different.
    • Then there's the reaction to people finding out about the Confederacy's "Population Reduction" program : "God forbid, it could happen to the Jews!"
      • More directly when Featherston's director of communications (and the analogue to Joseph Goebbels) remarks that if it had happened in Europe, people would probably be blaming Jews rather than blacks, which even Featherston agrees with. (Featherston, by the way, disapproves pretty strongly of Russian anti-Semitism; he himself doesn't have any especial use for Jews in general, but he makes a point of emphasizing, in his warped racial worldview, that Jews are whites as good as any other whites. One wonders how he would have reacted to the Falashas.)
      • And it's an even better lampshade when you take into account the fact that said communications director is himself Jewish.
  • La Résistance : A LOT, especially the Canadians and Mormons.
    • And the Black Marxist guerrillas in the Congaree.
  • Lean and Mean: Jake Featherston.
  • Les Collaborateurs
  • Literary Allusion Title
  • Loads and Loads of Characters : And we do mean loads.
  • Molotov Cocktail : Or should we say Featherston Fizz ? Used by Confederate die-hards in territory annexed by the US at the end of the Great War.
  • Moral Dissonance: Blacks are not liked by either the Union or the Confederacy - both see them as the reason they lost wars (The War of Secession for the Union, the Great War for the Confederacy). The majority of the white characters don't care much for them either. Of course, this is all overshadowed by the Freedom Party's plan to fix the problem.
    • This is to be expected given the parallels with European History where USA=France, CSA=Germany, Blacks=Jews. (Dreyfuss affair, anyone?)
  • The Neidermeyer: George Custer.
    • Played with by George S. Patton, who is extremely competent as a general but also absolutely hated by his men (who are at the point of mutiny when Patton threatens to shoot a soldier for showing signs of battle fatigue).
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Clarence Potter telling a Confederate soldier - who's as angry and disgruntled about having lost the second war as Jake Featherston was after the first war - to move on and accept the loss of the war, the way he never did with Featherston.
  • Nepotism: During the Great War, Clarence Potter is looking for black Socialist sympathizers and artilleryman Jake Featherston points out his commanding officer (J. E. B. Stuart III)'s black servant. J. E. B. Stuart Jr. blocks any further investigation, and when the servant shows his true colors, the disgraced Stuart III gets himself killed in battle. Blaming them for what happened, Stuart Jr. prevents Potter and Featherston from ever seeing another promotion for the rest of their lives...which is Featherston's Start of Darkness.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Freedom Party of the CSA. Confederate Nazis.
    • And the US become a more democratic version of Dirty Communists in the first half of the 20. century. They're Soviet in everything but ideology, which is more like German Social Democracy of the time.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: the Austrian succession is altered for this timeline, probably because Otto von Hapsburg (who would have been Austrian emperor had the monarchy survived) was still alive at the time of writing and Turtledove wished to avoid any legal trouble that may result from using a still-living (and very prominent) person as a fictional character.
  • Non-Indicative Name: the 'Empire' of Mexico has ceded large amounts of territory to both the CSA and USA over the course of the series, covers much less territory than Mexico in Real Life, and tends to do whatever the CSA 'politely requests'.
    • The Second Mexican War wasn't fought against Mexico, and only part of it took place south of the Mexican border. The war was between the United States and the Confederate States, and the part of Mexico where the fighting took place was technically part of the Confederacy at the time. The name refers to the fact that it was sparked by the Confederates acquiring two territories in Mexico, which led the US to invade to stop them from forming a transcontinental empire.
  • Not So Different: Stonewall Jackson invites Frederick Douglass to eat with him in his tent after Douglass is taken prisoner by Confederate soldiers. They both expect the other to be the personification of evil, but are surprised to find that they have some things in common.
    • Also from How Few Remain, General Custer's constant mockery of the Mormons' polygamy while occupying Salt Lake City looks more hypocritical when he conducts an affair with a local woman that is nipped in the bud when his wife arrives unexpectedly.
  • Only Sane Man: Abner Dowling with regard to just about everything Custer did, MacArthur's plans for an amphibious invasion of the Virginia coast, and again with Camp Determination.
    • Also Lucien Galtier's response to just about everything that's happened.
  • Out with a Bang: Lucien Galtier.
  • Pet the Dog: Jefferson Pinkard, basically the Confederacy's version of Adolf Eichmann, genuinly loves his wife and children, to the point where he worries what will happen to them if they lose the war. Quite common with actual Nazi prison guards.
  • Pinkerton Detective: Pinkertons work as strike breakers and are present at several of those that Chester Martin takes part in.
  • President Evil: Jake Featherston.
  • Putting on the Reich: A rather unusual and amusing subversion in general. Almost everything about the Freedom Party is modelled after the Nazis - except their uniforms, which resemble those worn by US troops during World War Two.
    • Ironically, the uniforms of the US forces resemble WWI and WWII German ones (Stalhelms, high boots, gas masks), since The Union had a long-standing alliance with Imperial Germany after the American Civil War (to the point of almost hero worship of the German Empire). As for the Germans themselves, Germany is still under the Kaiser.
    • The uniforms and equipment of TL-191 Confederates are also clearly based off of those of their traditional allies, the British and French, to a degree: Tanks suspiciously similar to British WWI ones, the French 75 mm cannon, Spitfire-like fighter planes in WWII, etc.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After the defense budget is slashed by the first Socialist administration, Irving Morrell ends up reassigned to Kamloops, British Columbia.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Very often. In Timeline-191 alone we have the Mormons, the Canadians, and the black socialists, none of whom could be called even remotely civilized. In the latter case, though, they still earn sympathy since they're fighting A Nazi by Any Other Name.
    • The Mormons are cited as being extremely scrupulous about observing the Geneva Conventions with regard to prisoners of war...but the use of people bombs pushes them over the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman: So many.
    • Grand Duke Michael becomes Michael II of Russia after the death of his father, Nicholas II.
    • L. Frank Baum is a Union fighter pilot, and later becomes a children's author.
    • John Wilkes Booth remained a popular stage actor until the 1880s.
    • Jimmy Carter was a Confederate sailor who was killed by black rebels while on leave.
    • Charles I remains emperor of Austria-Hungary well into the 1940s.
    • Winston Churchill still manages to become Prime Minister of Great Britain, but his authority is limited by the more powerful member of the coaltion government, Oswald Mosley. Churchill is ousted as Prime Minister after London, Norwich and Brighton are destroyed by sunbombs, and Horace Wilson becomes Prime Minister.
    • Samuel Clemens is a journalist in San Francisco.
    • Calvin Coolidge ran for President in 1928 and 1932, winning in the latter. He died before he could be inaugurated, and his running mate Herbert Hoover became President.
    • George Custer never fought at Little Big Horn. Instead, he fought in Montana during the Second Mexican War, delivering one of the Union's few victories. In the Great War he was commander of the First Army in Tennessee, and was responsible for the breakthrough that ended the war. After the war he commanded the occupation forces in Canada and Utah before retiring.
    • Albert Einstein works on the German sunbomb project.
    • Ulysses S Grant was a broken and poor old man, one of the few people who supported the plight of the blacks of North America. He died of complications from alcoholism.
    • Ernest Hemingway was an ambulance driver in the Great War, where he suffered an injury that rendered him permanently impotent[6]. He co-wrote Sylvia Enos' novel and had an affair with her: this ended when, in a bout of depression, he accidentally shot and killed her. Horrified, he committed suicide in front of Sylvia before she succumbed to her wound.
    • Adolf Hitler is a Sergeant in the Germany Army an orderly to Heinz Guderian. While his hatred of Jews and Slavs is present here as in the real world, the changed history means he never rises to a position of authority.
    • Stonewall Jackson became head of the Confederate General Staff and masterminded the Confederacy's victory in the Second Mexican War.
    • Abraham Lincoln lost the 1864 presidential election and becomes a socialist activist. Years later, he is remembered as one of the pivotical figures in the American Socialist Party (which itself becomes one half of the American bipartisan political system), but he's widely reviled for failing to stop the Confederates from spreading across the continent.
    • George S. Patton was the greatest general in the Confederate army, responsible for many of its victories in the Second Great War. When the tide of the war turned, he commanded much of the rearguard action. An avid supporter of the Freedom Party, he once attempted to shoot a soldier suffering from battle fatique, and was taken into custody at the end of the war.
    • Franklin D Roosevelt was Secretary of War in the Hoover administration and later Assistant Secretary of the Navy under two Socialist Administrations. He was also responsible for the the Union's sunbomb project.
    • Teddy Roosevelt led a volunteer cavalry regiment in the Second Mexican War, and was the US President from 1913-1921.
    • Joseph Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov became the leaders of the Red forces in the Russian Civil War, which the Whites ultimately won.
    • Louis Armstrong was leader of the popular band "Satchmo and the Rhythm Aces". During the Second Great War he was forced to play for Confederate troops and eventually escaped into Union territory. He brought the plight of the blacks to the Union government and later recorded propaganda for them.
      • Incidentally, "What a Wonderful World" makes a great Tear Jerker soundtrack to the last couple of books if one imagines this version of Louis recording that song after the Population Reduction.
    • William Howard Taft was never elected President, instead serving as a Democractic Congressman.
    • Kaiser Wilhelm II remained the German Emperor until his death in 1941. He was suceeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm V.
    • Woodrow Wilson was president of the Confederate States from 1910 - 1916, and led the Confederacy during the early years of the Great War.
    • Harry Truman was elected Vice President in 1944, alongside running mate Thomas Dewey.
    • Frederick Douglass is an aversion, as he's doing pretty much the same thing in How Few Remain as he was doing in real life.
      • Various members of the Kennedy clan also offer an aversion, as they end up in the same roles during the Second Great War that the Kennedys of our timeline held in World War Two: JFK is a naval officer, Joseph Kennedy Jr. a pilot in one of Jonathan Moss's squadrons, etc. As with the historical Kennedys, the family is also politically powerful (Joseph Kennedy Sr. is still a Massachusetts political operative), able to arrange the early discharge of George Enos Jr. from the Navy.
      • Ronald Reagan is a radio sportscaster, paralleling his real-life career at this point in history.
    • Elvis Presley as a young boy is wounded by US troops while participating in the Confederate 'National Assault Force', an analogue to the Volkssturm.
    • Nixon himself as noted above is a US Army specialist... in wiretapping and bugging rooms.[7]
    • James Longstreet, a Confederate General in the Civil War, is President of the Confederacy in How Few Remain.
    • A bald US general named Ironhewer accepts CS General George Patton's surrender. In real life Eisenhower and Patton were friends and colleagues.
    • Fidel Castro appears in The Grapple as a 16 year old kid who is part of the underground resistance in Confederate Cuba, opposing the Freedom Party. Sam Carsten, who commands the ship smuggling guns, ammo and supplies into Cuba, is told that despite his young age and being white (unlike his black comrades), Fidel was clearly the one in charge.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: In the Confederacy following the Great War, in a direct parallel to Weimar Germany.
  • Rule of Cool: YMMV, but things seem to go all too well for the CSA between 1861 and about 1915 considering it is a nepotistic, ethnically divided country that ties itself to a rural economy and slavery while the rest of the world embraces the second industrial revolution. It's justified since the intention of the author was to recycle World War One IN AMERICA!, but still.
  • Separated by a Common Language and American Accents: The differences in accents and regionalisms is discussed a few times. Clarence Potter runs the Confederacy's spying operations in World War II and mostly recruits people who lived or were educated up North (like himself) and thus don't have Southern accents. In another segment, two Confederate POWs are planning an escape, and one teaches the other some Northern turns of phrase ("carrying a bucket" versus "toting a pail") to help blend in after they break out.
  • Setting Update: Timeline-191 is basically European history of the 19. and 20. century MOVED TO AMERICA !
    • Hoo boy... Featherston is Hitler, West Texas/Kentucky/Sequoyah suffers a fate identical to Austria/Sudetenland, Irwing Morrell is an American Captain Ersatz of Erwin Rommel and the Battle of Pittsburgh becomes the equivalent of our Battle of Stalingrad. Blacks, Mormons and Indians become the equivalent of Jews, Slavs, Gypsies and other nationalities that died in our world's Holocaust. Canada is occupied by the totally-not-Soviet-Union USA during the later inter-war period and the Second Great War, becoming the US's satellite state (and later a full member). Sure, it's not very original, but works surprisingly well as a Historical In-Joke.
  • Shown Their Work: In addition to being a novelist, Turtledove is also a history Ph.D.
  • Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility : Starts out reasonably hard in How Few Remain, but, sadly, gets softer and softer with every sequel. The historical parallelism of the last 3 or 4 novels (depicting an alternate WWII set mostly in North America) often runs to absurd degrees (basically becoming just an American re-telling of European history of the first half of the 20. century). Harry apparently became a little lazy by then. No wonder...
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Union soldier Boris Lavochkin of In At The Death is a psycho. And there's always Gordon McSweeney.
    • Not to mention almost every member of the Freedom Party Guard, given that they're pretty much the SS
  • Start of Darkness: Jefferson Pinkard begins the series as a decent, hard-working man who loves his wife and bears no hatred towards blacks despite the atmosphere of the CSA at the time. It all starts going downhill after he catches his wife cheating on him with his next-door neighbor, which is what starts turning him bitter and cynical. After the Great War, he gets involved with the Freedom Party, and the distance causes his wife to cheat again, at which point he literally throws her out and dedicates himself wholly to the Party, eventually becoming the series' analogue of Eichmann.
    • As mentioned above, Jake Featherston's occurs when he hits a glass ceiling after being inconveniently right about his superior officer's black servant being a spy.
  • Statue of Liberty: Its counterpart in this universe is the Statue of Remembrance, a gift from Germany to the United States. Visually, the only difference is that she holds a sword and shield in the place of the Statue of Liberty's torch and tablet of law, respectively. The statue is a symbol of the the US desire for vengeance against the CSA, Britain, and France.
  • Straw Civilian: Returning home after the Confederate defeat in the Great War, Jefferson Pinkard is accosted in a train station by a woman who criticises him for being a coward. This kind of thing did sometimes happen in real life in some European countries, but it was more common before everyone realised it wouldn't be over by Christmas.
  • Stuffed Into the Fridge: Sylvia Enos does not have a happy ending, to put it mildly. Anne Colleton's ending is even more gruesome but also marks decisively the end of her Karma Houdini status.
  • Stylistic Suck: The Mein Kampf parallel, Jake Featherston's Over Open Sights, is intentionally terrible because Featherston is mostly self-educated and does nothing more than rant about how much he hates Yankees and black people. Unlike Mein Kampf it's only published after Featherston becomes president and starts the war with the USA (this change is likely because Turtledove felt that it would be implausible for a Hitler-parallel to write a "Mein Kampf" style book long before he came to power in a language that he shared with his primary rival nation and not attract more attention) and most Confederates are disappointed to find that it's just a less coherent version of the speeches he'd been giving for years.
  • Tank Goodness: Tanks are called "Barrels" in this universe. During the Great War, the U.S. General Staff wanted to use the tanks for support roles, but Armstrong Custer is the one who uses the barrels to great effect in the "Barrel Roll Offensive" when he gathered over 300 barrels into one force and used them to smash through Confederate trenchs.
  • Totally Radical: Several characters comment on the word "swell" replacing "bully".
  • Vetinari Job Security: In accordance with his status as a Hitler expy, Featherston is able to seize control of the Freedom Party by threatening to resign and challenging them to see how far they get without him.
  • What If the Confederacy won the Civil War?
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Jonathan Moss, in his interwar career as an 'occupation law' attorney. Moss opposed his own government in court regarding claims made by Canadians for property seized by the US Army and was noted by Canadians as providing honest representation. Unfortunately this did not end well for Moss, whose family was killed by a resistance bombing.
  • The Great War
  • The Second Great War
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Thanks to Turtledove's fondness for Jewish characters.
  • You ALL Share My Story: Averted for the most part, though occasionally characters will meet each other: Jonathan Moss becomes Jefferson Pinkard's defence attorney, Flora Blackford meets Cassius Madison in a ceremony in his honour, etc.
    • There's also cases of it going the other way, where two characters who were together get separated and then both of them become viewpoint characters. Chester Martin and Gordon McSweeney being one example.

Notes

  1. Despite the point of divergence in this timeline being the battle of Antietam, which took place four months after the Peninsula Campaign in our timeline, neither officer makes reference to this Union disaster which may suggest that this particular campaign was not fought, or fought on different terms, in this version of the Civil War.
  2. Never outright stated, but it's likely, since chlorine is the main component in mustard gas, and it has most of the same effects
  3. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass, George Armstrong Custer, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, J.E.B. Stewart, Alfred von Schlieffen and Mark Twain, to be exact
  4. Patton in Real Life was a California native
  5. the name proposed by the eastern counties of what is now Oklahoma during a failed bid for statehood in 1905--incidentally, it was an attempt by the Native Americans in the region to retain their sovereignty within the framework of the United States
  6. A character from one of Hemingway's novels has the same problem.
  7. Nixon in reality served as a Navy logistics officer during World War Two, and saw no combat, although by his own admission he became (not surprisingly) a very good poker player during this period.
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