Civil War Book Review: A Rainbow of Blood: The Union in Peril An Alternate History

A Rainbow of Blood: The Union in Peril An Alternate History
by Peter G. Tsouras

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.; 1 edition (July 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597972118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597972116

I enjoy “what if” history understanding that alternate paths are very possible throughout our historical journey.  Doing alternate history is difficult and very exacting.  Unless the author hijacks a historical name for a fictional character, the author must know about the person.  Additionally, the author must understand the time.  The fictional characters must be a product of their times, not some modern day personage and they must be realist.  After that, the author must find an alternate patch that is possible and construct a believable story.  When done right, something that seldom happens, readers are in for an enjoyable experience.

Peter G. Tsouras’ outstanding Union in Peril series is done right!  The author knows history, understands the times, has a very sound grasp of tactics, weapons and can write.  The result is an absorbing mix of history and fiction on a grand scale.   This is the second book in the series.  I recommend reading “Britannia’s Fist: from Civil War to World War” first.  While this book provides an excellent review bring the reader “up to date”, the full story is much more fun.

During the Civil War, Adams feared the United States and Great Britain would go to war.  The British upper class had strong emotional ties to the Confederacy.  British firms made millions supply the Confederacy while shipyard built blockage runners and warships.  The government ignored these activities, moved slowly to stop abuse or found legal reasons for not acting.  Book one, has a US warship sink an almost Confederate warship in British waters.  Intervention by a British warship results in a naval battle and war.

This book opens with United States fighting Great Britain, France and the CSA.  Rosecrans is bottled up in Chattanooga, Sherman is putting down the Copperhead rebellion, Meade is sparing with Lee.  In Louisiana, Banks faces a joint French CSA invasion from Texas.  “Fighting Joe” Hooker is leading an army up the Hudson River Valley to stop an invasion from Canada and Chamberlain is under siege in Portland while Sedgwick rushes to his relief.

This is a large canvas.  The author keeps the stories moving, jumping from place to place with ease.  This gives us the sense of simultaneous actions but we never get lost.  No small feat with multiple battles, national and international politics coupled with a Copperhead attempt on Lincoln’ life.

This book covers the campaigns of 1863, ending as winter closes in.  Both sides are drawing a deep breath and resolving to continue in the next book.  This is the best active alternate history series.  These books are written as history, with endnotes.  I consider them a page-turner and read this one in a couple of days.


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