Fridge / Timeline-191

Fridge Brilliance:

  • Although some people criticize Nellie Semproch's death from mishandling raw chicken as a seemingly random event, it was extremely common during that time period in Real Life. Food poisoning, and poor food handling practices generally, contributed to a much shorter lifespan for most Americans. However, the Second Great War brought improvements in health and sanitation practices generally, just as World War II did in our timeline. By the end of the war, Cassius Madison is being admonished to clean his mess kit regularly and to wash after meals whenever possible to prevent food poisoning. So rather than writing random events, Turtledove is engaging in a seemingly minor (but actually very significant) act of world-building in the narrative.

  • Anyone who has read the Federalist Papers and the writings of George Washington can see their influence on this book. Specifically, Washington and the other Federalists examine the consequences of the United States being divided into smaller republics. First, the smaller republics, in competition with each other, would require larger armies and higher taxes. Second, the smaller republics would be unable to resist getting entangled into European affairs and would become dependent on the European powers. Third, the smaller republics would be more subject to majoritarian tyrannies and be less free than a united Union.

    All of these things happen in this series. First, the Union and the Confederacy both have larger armies and (presumably) higher taxes. Second, the Europeans exercise more power over both sides. In the Second Mexican War, France and Britain are able to force the South to abolish slavery (at least facially), and they can walk all over the Union with impunity. Additionally, when the Great War starts, both the Union and the Confederacy are drawn into the war immediately, instead of. as IOTL, the U.S. staying out of things before being drawn in due to the Kaiser's stupidity. Third, both sides are less free and vulnerable to majoritarian tyranny. The South is easily taken over by Fetherston and his Freedom Party, while the North is much more structured and regimented than IOTL.

    Clearly, the author has shown his work.

Fridge Logic:

  • In Timeline-191, Henry Halleck is not at all mentioned in spite of directing the US Civil War at the point where it was lost. Granted, perhaps he was too much of a cipher, but he should have been an obvious scapegoat worth mentioning.

  • The United States names a ship after Pocahontas, Arkansas, and promotes William Rosecrans to General in Chief yet Ulysses S. Grant's victories receive next to no mention as far as Remembrance ideology is concerned. Why name a ship after a random town and not after victories that brought the first fall of Nashville and Union ships to the interior of Alabama?
    • The point of divergence is at the battle of Antietam in September 1862, which was the true turning point for the Union in the real Civil War, as Confederate logistics were utterly broken from that point forward while the Union had yet to achieve full mobilization of its economy. Grant's victories on the Mississippi didn't start coming until after Vicksburg, in April 1863. In this timeline Grant simply never had the opportunity to show what he could do given a full theater command. His previous victory at the battle of Shiloh, in April 1862, was marked with an unacceptably high casualty count and was where the first rumors that Grant was drunk while in command were started. Not exactly a high note to be remembered on, even if the allegations were largely untrue. In How Few Remain Rosecrans is mentioned as being one of the few generals who didn't get cashiered after the loss of the war, mainly because he had the least opportunity to fail of any of the generals (Rosecrans didn't achieve his major victories in our timeline until late 1862/early 1863, after a Union loss at Antietam would have shifted the focus of the war entirely).

Fridge Horror:

  • Timeline 191 has had two major world wars and the need to pay for them with a far smaller basis to do so. The second of these wars witnesses multiple nuclear strikes affecting all of the Great Powers involved except Japan.
  • In most European countries affected by the Holocaust, Jews were a distinct minority, not numbering more than 10-15% of the population and usually much less than that. In some Southern states in the timeframe, blacks were a majority of the population and even in states with fewer blacks they made up on average about 20-30%. Not only did Featherston fatally cripple his own war effort by killing off his laboring class, there are wide stretches of the postwar South that will have been completely depopulated. 'Population Reduction' indeed...