Fiction Reviews

American Empire: The Centre Cannot Hold

The Centre Cannot Hold (2003) Harry Turtledove, New English Library, 7.99, pbk, 692 pp, ISBN 0-340-82012-8

Not being familiar with Turtledove's work in the past, this turned out to be quite an experience. Set in an alternative world where the Americans sided with Germany during a version of the Great War and Canada has been occupied by the American Empire, the book concerns the struggle for power in America with the front runners, as the title suggests, a group of right wing fascists.

The Centre Cannot Hold and neither can this reviewer. It isn't just diving headlong into what is apparently a never ending story, but also that the fragmentary nature of the first hundred pages left me wondering when I was supposed to be gripped or indeed interested in anything. I was introduced to character after shapeless character, each holding a page or so at most before giving way to another. These brief sketches served only to frustrate. Perhaps if I was more knowledgeable about this era of American politics I could have been absorbed by the endless characters especially if, as I suspect, some were "real" in our history. As it stands, I have no motivation to continue with the American Empire series.

Graham Connor

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