Follow TV Tropes


Literature / The Falcon Cannot Hear

Go To

The Falcon Cannot Hear: The Second American Civil War 1937-1944 is an alternate history timeline written by Ephraim Ben Raphael which tells the story of a second American civil war which starts in 1937.

In February 1933, the new President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt was making a public appearance with Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak when an assassin's bullet, presumably aimed at Roosevelt, struck the mayor instead. In this story, the assassin has better aim, and FDR is killed. Come Inaguration day, Roosevelt's VP John Nance Garner is sworn in instead. Garner, a southern conservative, has no interest in the New Deal, causing the Depression to last well into the 30's. As a result, communist and fascist groups gain more public support. Strikes become commonplace, minorities are frequent targets of attack, and tensions rise among the population. In 1937, Republican Alf Landon, promising to enact his own New Deal, is elected President. But by then the country is a powder keg, with one spark needed to create all-out war. In the wake of a massacre of striking workers in Chicago, that spark is provided when a new Bonus Army, hearing a rumour that the government is about to force them out of Washington, marches on the White House....

You can read the story here. The complete work without comments can be foundhere.

Unfortunately, the story briefly became a Dead Fic after the author was caught plagiarizing sources (most notably The Glory and the Dream by William Manchester) to use as material for updates, with the admins locking the thread. But with permission of the admins, it's back, and can be found here.

Be warned that this page contains unmarked spoilers.

This work features the following tropes :

  • The Alliance: Two parallel alliances form, both mainly directed against the Whites and their foreign supporters.
    • The main force is the Red Oak Pact. The Provisional Government, The Continental Congress, Maine, Omar Bradley in the Rockies, Admiral King in Alaska, khaki forces in Puerto Rico, and Admirals Bloch and Fletcher in Guantanamo Bay all align themselves against Huey Long and the Japanese invaders.
    • The Blues have their own separate alliance with several of the worker's soviets on the East Coast. Once they split off and form the Worker's Collective, the two groups form the Popular Front.
      • The ASR later forms a truce with the two groups, without officially joining either Alliance.
  • Alternate History: C'mon, what'd you think this was?
  • Amazon Brigade: The Provisionary Government's 5th Wing, Women's Reserve. Trained by Amelia Earhart herself, they earn a reputation as Ace Pilots thanks to several feats of piloting.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Many Whites, who are, in fact, supported by the Nazis.
  • Anticlimax: After the Whites are defeated, the Reds are beaten quite easily by the Red Oak Pact and Canada.
  • Artifact Title: After the war, "Maine", while still technically descended from the US state, refers to a much larger territory that also includes New Hampshire, eastern Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, in effect the bulk of New England's population, land area, and industry. According to Word of God, the only reason why the US constituent republic of Maine hasn't changed its name to just New England is because Connecticut (which inherited western Massachusetts) and Vermont protest the idea every time it comes up.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Thanks to the butterfly effect, the 1938 New England Hurricane hits Chesapeake Bay instead, killing Douglas MacArthur. This causes the Whites to capture Washington, D.C., and the Khakis to implode as an united, viable faction, either defecting to the Whites or operating as warlords.
  • Big Applesauce: Is controlled by two separate governments. Fiorello La Guardia's pre-war administration, allied with the Blues, and a worker's soviet aligned with the ASR and later the Worker's Collective. The two groups get along great, and their friendly relationship is the start of the Popular Front against the Whites.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Canada declares war on Japan on 9 November 1940, and, four minutes later, launches a surprise attack on the Japanese forces in Washington State, breaking completely through the Japanese lines and driving them all the way back to the Olympic Peninsula.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The war ends with the Red Oak Pact/Popular Front victorious and the Whites and the ASR defeated, but the nation lies in ruins after seven years of conflict, with a total death toll of twelve million (largely due to disease and famine). Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands are also still under Japanese occupation, with Americans in Hawaii being shown the door and booted to the mainland. However, Dwight D. Eisenhower is elected President, and under his administration, the economy eventually stabilizes and much of the tangled bureaucracy and red tape that the Blues left behind is cut away. The US undergoes an economic boom in the postwar decades, while an upsurge of cultural liberalism takes root in the '50s. The nation isn't fully reunited, with Maine (controlling eastern New England), Utah, and New Africa (a black-majority state in the former Southern states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina) retaining some autonomy as "constituent republics", but all of them are nevertheless constitutionally bound as firm allies of the US.
    • Outside America, however, it's closer to the "bitter" side of the spectrum. In Europe, while Nazi Germany is defeated, most of the credit for the victory goes to the USSR. The war ends with Josef Stalin the undisputed master of most of Europe, with Red Army troops in Paris, Rome, Copenhagen, and Calais. Worse, Britain and West France, the leaders of "free Europe", take an uncomfortably far-right turn after the war, whitewashing many Nazi atrocities in the name of anti-communism (which leads Israel to align with the Soviets) and fighting to the bitter end to maintain control of their empires. Meanwhile, in Asia, Japan maintains its Pacific empire even after getting driven off the American mainland, maintaining control of Hawaii (where they're committing ethnic cleansing) and the Aleutian Islands. However, China escaped both the Second Sino-Japanese War (the Japanese having been distracted by their war with the Soviets and their invasion of the West Coast) and, to a degree, the rise of communism, with only northern China going Red.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: In a moral sense, the Whites are most certainly the worst faction of the Second Civil War: the government is run as a dictatorship by President Huey Long, who gives fascist militias and the Ku Klux Klan free reign over racial and ethnic minorities, leading to such predictably horrifying things as Klan-run concentration camps for black civilians. This initially stands in sharp contrast to their main enemy, the Blue faction, which, as an alliance of liberal, progressive, and socialist groups, generally holds much more tolerant positions on race. That is, until Japan invades the West Coast. Though the invasion is eventually repulsed in 1941, the enraged Blues embark on a campaign of interning Japanese-American civilians that is even worse than that of OTL, because it also involves confiscating Japanese-Americans' property without compensation and attempting to expunge Japanese culture from the country. While it's mentioned that this policy is fueled mostly by antipathy toward the unsavory parts of Japanese culture and not by racial hatred, that doesn't change the fact that by 1941, in some ways the Blues are little better than their fascist enemies.
  • The Chessmaster: Dwight D. Eisenhower. After seeing the horrific conditions inside the KKK's concentration camps, he uses his position as head of logistics for the Whites to forge orders from his superiors, bringing 5,000 prisoners from the camps, along with several "politically unreliable" army units, to the front lines. He promptly leads all of them to defect to the Reds. Oh, and he does all of this while under suspicion for taking part in an attempted coup d'état.
  • Chummy Commies: The Blues' communist faction is made up of Trotskyists unwelcome in the Stalinist American Soviet Republic. In the northeast, the Reds led by Sam Nessin and the prewar government of Fiorello LaGuardia are staunch allies and eventually join forces to become the Popular Front— to the Provisional Government's delight and the ASR's chagrin.
  • Civil War: The Second American Civil War, which has five major factions, with a smattering of smaller players active as well.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Factions include the communist Reds, the military Khakis, the fascist Whites, the socialist Blues, and the agrarian Greens.
  • Commie Land: The American Soviet Republic, who is openly Stalinist, and supported by the USSR.
  • The Coup: Done several times among the factions, with varying degrees of success.
    • Douglas MacArthur leads one after the Bonus Army kill the President and Vice-President. At first, it's mostly successful, with a good amount of state governments acknowledging his authority. But then....
      • General George Moseley leads a counter-coup. It fails, and he defects to the Whites, but he brings a good amount of the army with him. This causes the Khakis to lose much of their national support, and they're reduced to D.C., the Rockies, and overseas possessions.
    • Happens to the Reds when General-Secretary Earl Browder puts Premier William Z. Foster under arrest after the east coast soviets split and form the Popular Front with the Blues.
      • And happens to the Reds again after Browder orders the arrest of the newly defected Eisenhower. This causes the Red Guard, fed up with Browder's concern for "ideological purity" over actually winning the war, to arrest him and put Fosterite John Williamson in charge, who promptly organizes a truce with the Popular Front and Red Oak Pact.
    • Happens to the Whites as well when a group of generals, worried about the amount of control fascist paramilitaries have over the government, try to take control. It fails when one of the generals, George S. Patton, betrays the coup due to fears that it will weaken the Whites overall and embolden the Reds and Blues. All the generals are promptly executed, with the exception of Eisenhower, who Patton was able to protect. This causes Ike to defect to the Reds.
    • Omar Bradley convinces General Humphrey to resign, and takes control of the Khaki forces in the Rockies. He allows Red Oak Pact forces to cross his territory so they can fight the Japanese.
  • Crapsack World: Very much so for the people of the United States, made all the more disturbing by the fact that the first three years of the TL simply report events as they happened in real life.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Canadian intervention in Washington State. 150,000 Canadian troops and 60,000 Red Oak Pact soldiers launch a massive surprise attack on General Yamashita's forces, which were tied up in the Cascades; the Japanese line completely collapses, and the elite Imperial Guard division is completely surrounded by the Canadians. Only 10,000 Imperial Guardsmen manage to break out of the pocket, and are forced to retreat all the way to the Olympic Peninsula.
  • Darker and Edgier: As horrible as they were in reality, this timeline's Great Depression and World War 2 are far worse than our own.
    • Unemployment in the USA reaches around 40% before the Civil War begins.
    • Though the world is spared the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Japanese invasion and occupation of southeast Asia, it instead gets an American Civil War, a Sino/Japanese-Soviet War, an Indian Civil War and a Nazi Germany whose tyranny lasts almost five years longer and with it a much longer and bloodier German-Soviet War that ends with Stalin as the effective master of Europe.
  • Defector from Decadence: Dwight D. Eisenhower. One of the senior generals for the Whites, he defects to Reds after discovering that thousands of blacks are being murdered in KKK-run concentration camps.
    • And when Ike exposes the Whites' crimes, their entire New England territories defect and surrender to the Continental Congress.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Imperial Japan in a big way. In an attempt to shore up their ally Long, they decide to invade the Blue-controlled West Coast, thinking they'll receive support from the khaki warlords in the Rockies and give the Whites the chance to seize the Pacific coast. It backfires tremendously. Americans of all factions are infuriated by Japanese troops on their soil, the warlords who Japan expected to help them join the Red Oak pact instead, Long is almost the victim of a coup, and Canada sends troops south of the border to help repel the invasion.
  • Divided States of America: During the civil war. There are a total of five major factions:
    • A military government lead by Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur, nicknamed the Khakis, which controls Washington D.C., the Rockies, and the overseas possessions. After MacArthur dies during a hurricane, the Whites seize D.C., the Japanese occupy the Pacific territories, a Filipino corps stationed in Alaska begins a revolt against the Khakis there, and several Generals and Admirals become independent warlords, with Admiral Ernest King leading a rump loyalist faction out of the Alaskan Panhandle. Most of the warlords eventually align themselves with the Red Oak Pact as the war draws to a close.
    • The American Soviet Republic, lead by Communist Party General-Secretary Earl Browder, which controls a stretch of land from their capital at Chicago to New York City. The east coast Soviets, feeling that Browder is too authoritarian, eventually split and form the American Workers Collective, forming an anti-fascist Popular Front with the Blues. The ASR proper joins the Popular Front after a coup, but turns against it once the Whites are all but defeated. Their defeat to the Red Oak Pact/Popular Front marks the end of the Second Civil War.
    • The Whites, lead by Huey Long, are a collection of conservative and fascist groups composed of an official government and military under Long, and several paramilitary groups (ranging from the KKK and openly fascist groups to Businessmen's Associations, essentially armed Hoover Republicans) with strong influence over local governments. They control the South, Texas, parts of the Southwest, and eastern New England, with their capital in Montgomery, Alabama. They seize Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia after the Khakis' leadership is decapitated, but a failed coup by a group of generals fearing the growth of fascist influence causes the fascists to effectively take over. New England defects to the Continental Congress as a result, and between that, the ASR joining the Popular Front, and the fascists' dysfunctional leadership, the Whites fall apart and are soon overrun.
    • The Provisional Government, also called the Blues, lead by John L. Lewis. A coalition of liberals, progressives and democratic socialists, they control the upper Midwest, upstate New York, western New England, and the West Coast, with their capital in St. Paul, Minnesota. They form an alliance with the Continental Congress known as the Red Oak Pact, and later one with the AWC called the Popular Front. With Canadian backing, the Red Oak Pact/Popular Front defeats the Whites and then the ASR, winning the civil war.
    • The Continental Congress, also called the Greens, lead by Milo Reno. Composed of Midwestern farmers who don't like any of the other factions, they control the Great Plains from Montana to Oklahoma. They align themselves with the Blues in the Red Oak Pact, and count themselves among the winners.
    • And several other independent groups:
      • William Langer, Governor of North Dakota, has declared secession from the Union. He's eventually brought to heel by Canada.
      • Sumner Sewell, Governor of Maine. While not declaring secession, he cooperates closely with Canada and aligns himself with whichever (American) group gives him the most independence. He eventually sides with the Continental Congress, with White New England surrendering to him after they defect to the Red Oak Pact. Post-war, Maine (which now controls most of New England east of the Connecticut River) enjoys a great deal of autonomy within the Third Republic.
      • The B.R.O.W.N. (Banner Revolutionary Organisation of Willing Negroes), a guerrilla group operating in White territory. This causes the Whites to begin putting blacks in concentration camps, where half a million of them die of disease and starvation. As the Whites fall apart, they align with the Red Oak Pact/Popular Front, and after the war, the former states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina are merged into the autonomous black state of New Africa.
      • Henry Ford, who controls Detroit as his own personal fiefdom using army troops and mercenaries. He's eventually defeated by the Blues.
    • Downplayed after the war concludes. By 1944, America has been stitched back together into the Third Republic, but the victorious factions retain political control over the areas they held at war's end, so that by the time the new Constitution is hammered out, social-democratic, conservative, and outright communist regional governments are coexisting with high degrees of autonomy within a single country. In addition, several regions that failed to clearly side with any faction during the War are incorporated as "constituent republics" rather than states, which are completely autonomous in all but a few ways. Naturally, the central government is considerably weaker to allow for this highly federalized model. Interestingly enough, several of postwar America's "constituent republics" also constitute downplayed forms of this trope's classic subtropes:
      • The Constituent Republic of Utah is under Mormon influence (though not an outright theocracy).
      • A black ethnostate, the Republic of New Africa, has been formed in the Deep South.
      • New York City has become an autonomous "federal city".
      • Much of New England, including New Hampshire, Rhode Island and even Boston itself, is autonomous under the rule of the Constituent Republic of Maine.
  • The Empire: The Japanese Empire, just as much, if not more than in real life, at least from American perspective.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • One of the main reasons for the failure of MacArthur's conservative Khakis is the rejection of (unconstitutional) military government by the American population, including many American conservatives and right-wingers.
    • Later on, everyone begins to align themselves against Huey Long's White faction and their Fascist backers. As unpleasant as the Reds might be, a Fascist victory is, in their eyes, still miles worse.
  • Face Death with Dignity: President Alf Landon, when the Bonus Army storms the White House. One of his executioners says: “He silently proclaimed his defiance… I recall he looked at us without a trace of fear. There was no doubting that he was the President… when we opened fire he did not flinch".
  • For Want of a Nail: After several posts of actual real life events in America, the POD arrives in the form of Giuseppe Zangara managing to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Although the story starts by depicting a prosperous America in 1929, the reader knows from the title that the country will collapse into civil war in 1937, and that this war will have concluded by 1944.
    • By 1944, John L. Lewis, who is running for President in America's first postwar presidential election, treats his victory as this, because he was the leader of the most successful faction in the war; he has the backing of every political machine in the country (of which there are many by war's end); the labor organization he runs, the CIO, has become the largest and most powerful one in the nation; most of the major newspapers have endorsed him; and his competition consists of a few minor parties, several communists (including Leon Trotsky) and an apolitical general that no one seems to take very seriously. Then that general goes and wins the election.
  • Final Solution: In retaliation for B.R.O.W.N attacks on KKK-aligned figures, Huey Long's Whites set up concentration camps for black Americans in Aberdeen, Mississippi. The sight of people dying of sickness and neglect in these camps is the final straw that convinces Eisenhower to rebel: first by launching an unsuccessful coup, then defecting to the Reds.
  • Fun with Acronyms: the black Americans waging guerilla warfare against their fascist government call themselves the Banner Revolutionary Organisation of Willing Negroes.
  • Idiot Ball: Despite capturing several Canadian soldiers in late October and early November 1940, General Yamashita presses on with his attack into the Cascades, allowing himself to be taken surprise by a massive Canadian attack on 9 November, with catastrophic results for his forces.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The Nazis still lose the war in Europe (although the Soviets end up dominating the continent), and Dwight D. Eisenhower still ends up President of the United States by the 1950s.
  • Invaded States of America: Japanese forces occupy Hawaii and parts of Alaska, and invade the West Coast of the USA.
  • The Klan: One of the major powers on the side of Huey Long's Whites, along with Father Charles Coughlin and his Social Justice Platoons.
  • La Résistance: Many examples, both internationally and according to Word of God, within the USA. Most notably there is the Banner Revolutionary Organisation of Willing Negroes and the Blue loyalists in the Appalachians, both fighting the Whites.
  • Operation: [Blank]:
    • Operation Valley Forge, the Continental Congress' first major offensive in the war, which sees them take advantage of the Whites being weakened by the brutal winter of '38 to swoop in and take control of Missouri and Oklahoma.
    • Operation Spoon, the bloodless seizing of the Panama Canal Zone by the British, in light of the collapse of the "legitimate" Khaki government.
    • Operation East, the aptly named offensive by the Whites designed to break through Red and Blue lines along the East Coast front.
  • Oppressive States of America: The Reds and the Whites, in Dirty Communists and Day of the Jackboot form respectively. While the Red Oak Pact/Popular Front isn't all roses either, with quite a few What the Hell, Hero? moments dotting its efforts, they're still very, very much A Lighter Shade of Grey compared to their foes.
  • Peace Conference: After the more belligerent factions are dealt with, the Red Oak Pact/Popular Front members assemble in the Toronto Conference in order to forge both a peace treaty and a new unified government.
  • The Purge: Happens several times among the various factions.
    • MacArthur's government rounds up left-wing politicians and several of his own commanders after another general attempts his own coup.
    • The Left faction of the Blues, hearing a rumor that the Right faction is about to purge them, commit their own purge. Though this one is less violent than the others, less "We're throwing you in jail", more "We're not gonna let you have any real power".
    • The Reds implement their own purge after the East Coast Soviets form the Workers' Collective and ally with the Blues.
    • The Whites have one after a group of generals attempt to launch a coup against Huey Long over his regime's alliance with the Klu Klux Klan and overall fascistic nature.
      • And again after Eisenhower defects to the American Soviet Republic with several thousand soldiers and concentration-camp inmates. General Patton is among the purged.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Admiral Bloch, due to bigotry against Jews, is transferred by Admiral King, the new commander of the Battle Force in the American Pacific to Guantanamo Bay for the sake of keeping the prior commander away from anything important.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Believe it or not, it takes several posts for the POD to actually occurnote . All of the difficulties, horrors, and conflicts that were present prior to that actually happened, and a number of the passages describing early Depression-era America before OTL's New Deal were in fact lifted straight from history books describing the conditions of the era. (This was, in fact, what briefly got the author into trouble for plagiarism.)
  • The Remnant:
    • The Khakis splits into several remnants after their leader, Douglas MacArthur, disappears and Whites capture the capital.
      • The main Khaki remnant under Admiral Ernest King is reduced to the remnant of a remnant after the Japanese destroyed his fleet and took over the American Pacific territories, the territorial base of King's faction. Once the Japanese invade the Mainland, he allies with the Red Oak Pact.
    • To a lesser degree, the American Soviet Republic after the East Coast Reds split off as the American Workers' Collective.
  • Rousing Speech: Upton Sinclair's "We Shall Defeat" speech, delivered in response to the Japanese invasion.
    “No enemy has dared to trespass on American soil since the British in 1812. We defeated the British then, and we will defeat Japan now. We shall defeat them on the land, for there are no men braver or more committed to the cause of freedom than our soldiers. We shall defeat them in the air, for there are none so skilled or fearless as our pilots. We shall defeat them at sea, for America’s naval might is questioned only by our allies. We shall defeat them on any battlefield of any type where they may choose to meet us, and should they even briefly gain a temporary advantage then we shall water the tree of liberty with our blood to take it back.”
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After the death of MacArthur, Admiral Fletcher, not wanting to join the Whites, takes the Atlantic Squadron and creates an American community at Guantanamo Bay with Admiral Bloch, the local commander there. They keep to themselves, not getting involved in the war at all, their goals being “to remain apart from whatever tyrannical regime, of whatever color, that may come to power on the mainland” and to “preserve a small fragment of American liberty.”
    • Neutral No Longer: After the Japanese invasion of the West Coast, they join the Red Oak Pact.
  • Second American Civil War: As the subtitle indicates, the entire premise of the story is a seven-year-long Second Civil War. The sides are in the war are, in short, Douglas MacArthur's military government, the American Soviet Republic, loyalists to Huey Long in the Deep South, the Provisional Government, and the Contiental Congress, the last two of which eventually team up, as well as various minor factions.
  • Shout-Out: Believe it or not, Ephraim Ben Raphael actually made a Polandball comic based off of the story's timeline.
  • Suddenly Significant City:
    • Juneau, Alaska effectively acts as the capital of the Khakis once they lose control of D.C. after MacArthur's death, but by that point the faction's mostly dissolved to warlordism, so Juneau really only controls the forces in Alaska itself.
    • Huey Long's fascist White government is established in and run from Montgomery, Alabama. When Montgomery is captured by the Red Oak Pact, the surviving White leadership flees to Tallahassee, which lasts until Florida surrenders wholesale.
    • The ASR is based in Chicago, which was the first city government to be overthrown by the Communist revolutionaries. When the ASR is facing final defeat, its government briefly relocates to Springfield, Illinois.
    • After the AWC breaks away from the ASR, New York serves as its capital.
    • The Provisional Government primarily operates out of St. Paul, Minnesota, though due to being cut off by the other factions, its West Coast territories are run from Sacramento. Post-war, with the Red Oak Pact victorious, St. Paul is briefly the capital of the entire United States, with President John Lewis even considering having it become the capital permanently due to it being the seat of his power. His successor Eisenhower, however, has it moved back to Washington, DC.
    • The Continental Congress' capital is Oklahoma City.
    • After declaring neutrality, Admirals Fletcher and Bloch use the Atlantic Squadron to turn Guantanamo Bay into the center of an American exile community, eventually evolving into a thriving city. After the war's conclusion, it becomes an autonomous city-state within the Third Republic.
  • Tempting Fate: Huey Long: "We have the confidence of the majority of the American people behind us, and there is nothing that can shake their faith." Leads to:
    • Wham Line: That faith was shaken on January 11, 1940, when 100,000 Japanese soldiers landed on the West Coast of America.
  • Truce Zone: Neutral Arizona.
  • Understatement: "There has been a little distress selling on the Stock Exchange." - Secretary of Commerce Thomas Lamont, "Prologue- 1929"
  • Wham Episode
    • "Farmers and Bankers- 1932-1933": The POD arrives, at last, in the form of Franklin D. Roosevelt being assassinated.
    • "The Government Overthrown- 1937": Ladies and gentlemen, with the assault on the White House and the death of Alfred Landon, the Second American Civil War has begun.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A couple of near-identical In-Universe examples practically Bookend the civil war: MacArthur and Long both disappear while traveling by plane (the former being in the air when a hurricane hits, the latter vanishing while fleeing the country). While the general consensus in both cases is that they're dead, they Never Found The Bodies.