If the South had won the Civil War

Written by MacKinlay Kantor
Review by John R. Vallely

Kantor’s short tale of an alternative U.S. Civil War first appeared in the now defunct LOOK magazine in November 1960. It was published in book form in 1961, in time to satisfy a public immersed in the centennial of America’s bloodiest conflict. The 128 pages can easily be read in an afternoon, but Kantor’s keen insights and imaginative observations on “what might have been” will stay with the modern reader much as they remained in the minds of readers forty years ago.

The novel begins with the accidental death of General Grant as he begins his campaign against the Confederate fortress of Vicksburg, Mississippi in spring 1863. Rather than a summer of Union victories, the Union is confronted by endless Confederate successes. There is no alternative to asking the Confederate States for terms. This very different Civil War is followed by Kantor bringing the several American republics into the 20th century. A thought-provoking and fun novel.