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Stars and Stripes Triumphant
Harry Harrison
Del Rey, 249 pages

Dennis Lyall
Stars and Stripes Triumphant
Harry Harrison
Harry Harrison was born in 1925 in Stamford, Connecticut. Later his family moved to Brooklyn, then Queens, settling there. He graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1943 and was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps. Discharged in 1946, he began an art course at Hunter College in New York City and then attended the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. Work in comics and writing some fiction provided him a living for some years until the sale of Deathworld, the first part of which appeared in the January 1960 issue of Astounding. The Harrisons now reside in the Republic of Ireland.

Harry Harrison Website
ISFDB Bibliography
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

What would have happened if, when the war between America's northern and southern states broke out, England decided to try and regain its lost colonies? What would happen if, in retaliation, American invaded and freed Ireland? What if Lincoln was never shot, if Ericsson never died during his ill-fated voyage on the Monitor? What if Disraeli, well-known now for being one of the world's great statesmen, never got into power, but that power stayed with Lord Palmerston?

These few what ifs have launched an intriguing trilogy, of which this is the final episode. Some of these things I mention happened in Stars and Stripes Forever and Stars and Stripes in Peril, but that doesn't mean that you need to have read those books to enjoy this one. I requested this book because I like and respect Harry Harrison's work, but he took me on an unprecedented journey. In this volume, England continues to act in ways that forces action from Abraham Lincoln, whose fictional persona is no less war hating than the original. Irish people in England are being forced into prison camps, and the British navy is continuing its seizure of cargo ships and impressing of American Sailors. Sherman, Fox, Lee, Grant and Lincoln have no choice but to invade England herself.

Harrison takes a different approach. Most authors of historical novels create a fictional character to base the adventures around. He instead chooses well-known figures from the true past, and we meet and travel with several familiar faces, most especially those of Sheridan and Grant. It is interesting to follow these people around, to see what actions they take in this new reality. The handful of changes that Harrison institutes make a huge impact on history, showing us how fragile the events of the past are, and how just a few things taking place can have incredible consequences. The events that these changes set off aren't over the top. They make sense in such a way that it would be impossible to believe any other thing could happen. It is completely logical, even the further inventions of Ericsson, whose life, as I mention, was cut tragically short, seem reasonable and possible.

Stars and Stripes Triumphant finishes this series well. It details an alternate history whose conclusions about the possibilities of what could have been are inescapable, and make for thoughtful reading.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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