American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold

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"The Center Cannot Hold" redirects here. For the book by Elyn Saks, see Elyn Saks.
American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold
HodderAndStoughton HarryTurtledove TheCenterCannotHold Cover 2002.jpg
First edition cover
Author Harry Turtledove
Country United States
Language English
Series American Empire
Genre Alternate history novel
Publication date
June 25, 2002
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 512
ISBN 0-345-44421-3
OCLC 49952193
Preceded by American Empire: Blood and Iron
Followed by American Empire: The Victorious Opposition

American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold is the second book in the American Empire alternate history series by Harry Turtledove. It takes place during the period of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression (specifically from 1924 to March 4, 1934). During this era in Turtledove's Southern Victory Series world, the Confederate States of America, stretching from Sonora to Virginia, is led by Whigs (with the fascist Freedom Party gaining more and more power) while the United States of America (which has been occupying Canada, Newfoundland, the Bahamas, and the Sandwich Islands) is controlled by Socialists.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

During the period, the United States share world domination with Kaiser Wilhelm II's German Empire (now victors of the Great War) while the C.S.A. face poverty and national calamity. A malcontent Confederate Army veteran named Jake Featherston, whose biography is similar to that of real life Adolf Hitler, rides a fascistic wave to power in this desperate Confederacy of the Great Depression and defeats Whig candidate Samuel Longstreet and Radical Liberal candidate Cordell Hull in a landslide in the 1933 Confederate Presidential Election. The Northerners, tied up with their own problems including Mormon terrorist acts in the occupied state of Utah, seem to care little about the activities of the Confederates until it is too late and it seems the road is leading the U.S.A. and C.S.A. toward a fourth war (after facing one another in the War of Secession, the Second Mexican War, and the Great War).


Literary significance and reception[edit]

Roland Green in his review for Booklist described this novel as "another harrowing and literate installment in Turtledove's standard-setting alternate history".[2] Jeff Guinn of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram described the plot as "reasonably intelligent, with solid premises".[3]


  1. ^ David Soyka. "The SF Site Featured Review: American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold". Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  2. ^ Green, Roland (May 1, 2002). "The Center Cannot Hold (Book)". Booklist 98 (17): p. 1445. ISSN 0006-7385. 
  3. ^ Guinn, Jeff (February 19, 2003). "American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold". Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX).