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Least favorite alt-history story?

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
Also I cannot remember where it was posted so I can't begin to search for it, but the archon of the Trent Cabal literally said that anyone who has a problem with his revisionism is probably just an American who's insecure about his country losing its place in a changing world and I actually thought it was a self-deprecating joke at his own expense at first because it is way too incredibly on the nose to be real.

EDIT: Found it, in a now-deleted blog entry reviewing Burnished Rows of Steel.

https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...eat-war-foreward.301246/page-72#post-10713971

Enjoyment: some - difficult to rate as this is clearly aimed at an American audience who appear to be insecure in their place in a changing world. To them it seems very enjoyable. To anyone that knows the subject the mistakes grate.
 

Geordie

Digital Hustings and Wyboston
Published by SLP
For all of his knowledge

For all of his knowledge - which, as @zaffre intimates, was copious - on the subject, the author of Burnished Rows of Steel had an agenda. Remember that this is the author who thought that George III was the worst monarch in British history, because he lost America. A more devastating loss than those who lost their thrones, lives, and right to hand the throne over to their heir. Because America, fuck yeah. With apologies to Dr Seuss.

He did not like them, not one Brit,
He did not like their naval ships,
He did not like their soldiers red,
He wanted them to be shot dead,
He thought them sozzled on the gin,
And finished with a rolleyes grin :sneaky:

Lilac is bang on. When an author has an axe to grind, they are likely to use a wealth of knowledge for support rather than illumination.

Best,
 
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SenatorChickpea

The Most Kiwi Aussie of them all
Patreon supporter
Enjoying @zaffre on various trent timelines. Can I assume there's no point in doing more as they're all basically the same? There was one very popular one on ah.com 'they shall meet us on the open sea' I think, that I glanced at, found impenetrable and backed away from.

Wrapped in Flames is decent enough, especially in its revised version. Otherwise- yes, smile and back away.
 

Elektronaut

Cobs? 3? Yes we do.
I've not read TFSmith's timeline but I do recall he was regarded as ridiculously pro-Union in discussions outside of it so if he was pushing back against other offerings then it was only in small part. I seem to recall he said once that there was no way the Union could ever have lost the war.

I think there was a time where he was posting in US Civil War discusions simultaneous to 49th Tigers or whatever he was called, I.E TFSmith's Confederate mirror counterpart.
 
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Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
I'm getting the feeling that Trent TLs are the Fuldapocalyptic WWIII TLs of the 19th century.
100%. The long and short of it is that yes, you had a diplomatic crisis that could have brought the US and Britain to war, but both sides were anxious to avoid conflict and neither had anything to gain or any particular reason to go to war. The scenarios presuppose two things:

1. That the British would want to go to war with the Americans simply because the author is anti-American and would like to see the U.S. defeated at the last point Britain could plausibly do so (or vice versa in the case of TF Smith).

2. That the U.S. acts completely insane for a few months just to set up this war.

Just like how yes, there were NATO and Pact troops facing off in Germany who had plans to go to war, but in a larger political context no one on either side had any particular desire to actually fight each other and way too much to lose to ever actually do it. You do have that very narrow window between 1985 and 1988 where the Russians still had an offensive conventional war plan and NATO had a chance to win without the war going nuclear, but that doesn't mean a conventional war was really imminent in a larger sense.

Knowing a whole bunch about the ratio of Leopard I to Leopard II in the West German II Corps may cause you to miss the point that this conventional warfare window only opened because of NATO's buildup and Russia's failure to match it, and that it was a product of much larger historical forces. A common person's understanding of the Cold War gives you a more accurate picture of the Fuldapocalypse scenario than a wargaming expert's. Similarly, the Trent affair only escalated to the point of (partial, symbolic) British mobilization due to initial American misunderstanding of the situation exacerbated by transatlantic communication difficulties. Expertise in the details of that mobilization can distract you from the fairly obvious fact that the British government had nothing to gain and no desire to go to war with their largest trading partner in defense of slavery.

I think the only difference I see between Trent and Fulda is that most Fuldapocalypse people don't have some type of wild anti-Communist (or pro-Communist) axe to grind, they're just looking at a wargaming scenario. The Trent people are usually goofy anti-Americans who think their surviving CSAs and weakened Americas represent a sort of utopia, whereas I've never seen a 1980's Hot War scenario that didn't emphasize to some degree bloody and destructive even a conventional war would be. Plus the best case scenario for Fuldapocalypse is...just exactly what happened OTL in 1991 without a war.

I've not read TFSmith's timeline but I do recall he was regarded as ridiculously pro-Union in discussions outside of it so if he was pushing back against other offerings then it was only in small part. I seem to recall he said once that there was no way the Union could ever have lost the war.

I think there was a time where he was posting in US Civil War discusions simultaneous to 49th Tigers or whatever he was called, I.E TFSmith's Confederate mirror counterpart.
I think 67th Tigers had been banned for saying that actually slavery was good before TF Smith ever showed up, but they'd interacted elsewhere on the internet.

I do recall TF Smith saying that the U.S. should have used nuclear weapons on Anglo-French forces in the Suez.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
I've always wanted to do a Trent War TL but I mean, I might as well drink bleach.

Plus there's just so much more to do in the Civil War
There's a guy on AH.com (can't remember the name, sorry) who had a super detailed alternate civil war scenario but it was about Phil Kearny surviving and being the big hero of the war and it was actually less about the details of the war and more about the postwar political situation. The interesting thing about the U.S. Civil War is how it shaped U.S. politics and society in the rest of the 19th century, not the war itself, which was basically a foregone conclusion.

EDIT:
A Glorious Union: America, The New Sparta by TheKnightIrish
https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/a-glorious-union-or-america-the-new-sparta.237525/
 
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SenatorChickpea

The Most Kiwi Aussie of them all
Patreon supporter
A Glorious Union is excellent, especially once you get past the rather dry updates on the war itself. It's got an interesting take on reconstruction, so far- on the one hand the ex-confederates are being treated much more harshly, to the point that the exile communities are much larger. On the other hand, there's some interesting implications that the Union is going to have an unhealthy cult of generals-turned-politicians with unfortunate consequences for civil society....
 
100%. The long and short of it is that yes, you had a diplomatic crisis that could have brought the US and Britain to war, but both sides were anxious to avoid conflict and neither had anything to gain or any particular reason to go to war. The scenarios presuppose two things:

1. That the British would want to go to war with the Americans simply because the author is anti-American and would like to see the U.S. defeated at the last point Britain could plausibly do so (or vice versa in the case of TF Smith).

2. That the U.S. acts completely insane for a few months just to set up this war.

Just like how yes, there were NATO and Pact troops facing off in Germany who had plans to go to war, but in a larger political context no one on either side had any particular desire to actually fight each other and way too much to lose to ever actually do it. You do have that very narrow window between 1985 and 1988 where the Russians still had an offensive conventional war plan and NATO had a chance to win without the war going nuclear, but that doesn't mean a conventional war was really imminent in a larger sense.

Knowing a whole bunch about the ratio of Leopard I to Leopard II in the West German II Corps may cause you to miss the point that this conventional warfare window only opened because of NATO's buildup and Russia's failure to match it, and that it was a product of much larger historical forces. A common person's understanding of the Cold War gives you a more accurate picture of the Fuldapocalypse scenario than a wargaming expert's. Similarly, the Trent affair only escalated to the point of (partial, symbolic) British mobilization due to initial American misunderstanding of the situation exacerbated by transatlantic communication difficulties. Expertise in the details of that mobilization can distract you from the fairly obvious fact that the British government had nothing to gain and no desire to go to war with their largest trading partner in defense of slavery.

I think the only difference I see between Trent and Fulda is that most Fuldapocalypse people don't have some type of wild anti-Communist (or pro-Communist) axe to grind, they're just looking at a wargaming scenario. The Trent people are usually goofy anti-Americans who think their surviving CSAs and weakened Americas represent a sort of utopia, whereas I've never seen a 1980's Hot War scenario that didn't emphasize to some degree bloody and destructive even a conventional war would be. Plus the best case scenario for Fuldapocalypse is...just exactly what happened OTL in 1991 without a war.



I think 67th Tigers had been banned for saying that actually slavery was good before TF Smith ever showed up, but they'd interacted elsewhere on the internet.

I do recall TF Smith saying that the U.S. should have used nuclear weapons on Anglo-French forces in the Suez.
I just remembered that back of the napkin scenario we came up with at the tiki bar - something about how a successful Mai 68 revolution was the only way for the Soviets to win WWIII.

Can't remember how we got there but that was a fun conversation
 

zaffre

front-runner for Pantone Colour of the Year 2019
Location
Massachusetts
Enjoying @zaffre on various trent timelines. Can I assume there's no point in doing more as they're all basically the same? There was one very popular one on ah.com 'they shall meet us on the open sea' I think, that I glanced at, found impenetrable and backed away from.
That was the naval one I gave up on, yeah. Wrapped In Flames is reasonably objective (the only one where both sides win battles from time to time, which tells you how low the bar is here) but again the broader issue with Trent Wars is that neither outcome is, well, interesting? Either the British burn down D.C. again and we have a beautiful and attractive Confederacy or the U.S. just, like, eats Canada.

The core issue is that reading about all the tantalizing military possibilities, again, distracts from the political reality. Practically the only thing pro-UK and pro-US takes on it have in common is that the both sides suddenly, like, won't quit - either Woke Palmerston is dismembering the country or the US is pursuing a "Canada first" strategy because who cares about the literal army next to DC. To pivot off of @Burton K Wheeler's point - let's pretend the crisis somehow escalates to war. The boring reality is that Britain then pastes the U.S. fleet and skirmishes a bit in Canada and Lincoln goes "can we give you reparations and like, part of Minnesota" and Palmerston goes "great, we won, you got this Lee, bye" because a) Lincoln doesn't even want Canada and doesn't have time for this b) come on, Palmerston is canny enough to treat the CSA as useful idiots and nothing more
 

Japhy

S.M. Stirling Hates Him!
Published by SLP
Location
Troy, New York
I'm a fan of the work. It's a great counterpoint to a lot of ACW works that do belong in the trashbin. Like there are real flaws when looking at the characterizations and the war gaming components but they're pretty well balanced by the narrative and the good ideas in the story. I kind of stopped following after my banning and his decision to have the US invade Abyssinia but the war itself was fascinating in a "I'm biting my tongue about some minor to moderate details right now" sense.
 

Japhy

S.M. Stirling Hates Him!
Published by SLP
Location
Troy, New York
But yeah in my big list of Civil War projects the critical thing is what comes out of it. You can though the crucible of 1861-1865 produce everything from American Portfiriatos to a Socialist New Deal in 1900 to *waves vaguely at my giant collection of notes*
 
As far as I can tell, most ACW stories/threads back in the day served the same purpose as the old Map Games i.e. dominate the thread ASAP so that it looks like everyone agrees that your side is academically superior. In the case of the Map Games, it was either having the world-map turn pink but Indians get the vote so it's progressive but London still runs the show so it's not too dangerous, Glorious America showering the Western Hemisphere in freedom and democracy and real racial equality because Obama 2008 ended racism, or Um Actually The Central Powers Are Woke as Wehraboos avenge Amiens and Verdun.

ACW stuff, OTOH, had either Confederates sweeping slavery under the rug or trying to 'redeem' the racism, or Americans who have never forgiven Britain and Canada for the crime of burning Washington and/or not accepting annexation into the New Rome. That, or they really hated the 'No American Revolution=Progressive America' threads. Bar Japhy's stuff, mostly because I stopped venturing into pre-1900 a long time ago, I've never seen a proper good ACW TL that didn't need conditions attached.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
I thought Civil War TLs were often the domain of Confederate apologists, like that AH with the name that escapes me, in which Richmond forms black regiments in 64 and wins the war by 65. Not sure if that one was a proper TL or just a really dumb scenario, though.
The Black and the Gray. Yeah. That was a gold standard AH web scenario in 2004.

Robert Perkins was an interesting guy in that I never got the feeling he was racist, he just really really loved the South and the Lost Cause myth. I think he would have liked the idea of a Deep South Republic of New Afrika provided you put a little magnolia on it. He was so in love with his romantic mythical CSA that it completely overshadowed the basic facts of the subject.

I've never read anything from any other CSA enthusiast that gave me the same impression.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
I just remembered that back of the napkin scenario we came up with at the tiki bar - something about how a successful Mai 68 revolution was the only way for the Soviets to win WWIII.

Can't remember how we got there but that was a fun conversation
Well, the Soviets could win a conventional war pretty much any time from the 1950's to the mid 1980's, but the NATO warplan at that point was pretty much to go nuclear right away. In the mid to late 1980's, when NATO was geared to fight a conventional war, France was a critical backstop for NATO. Not only were they the second biggest army in NATO and SACEUR's theater reserve, Le Havre was the best port to sustain fighting in Germany (Bremerhaven and Rotterdam are going to be too dangerous if not captured) and introduce new forces from North America. And then, of course, the French nuclear deterrent was separate from NATO, so a Soviet offensive that didn't stop at the Rhine was in danger of escalating to nuclear war anyway.

A lot of the Soviet conventional victory scenarios hinged on keeping France from fighting for West Germany, but given who the leadership in France in the 1980's was and what they'd experienced in WWII, I don't think there's any way the French wouldn't fight. De Gaulle pulled out of the NATO command structure because he doubted American commitment to Germany, not because France lacked commitment.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
That was the naval one I gave up on, yeah. Wrapped In Flames is reasonably objective (the only one where both sides win battles from time to time, which tells you how low the bar is here) but again the broader issue with Trent Wars is that neither outcome is, well, interesting? Either the British burn down D.C. again and we have a beautiful and attractive Confederacy or the U.S. just, like, eats Canada.

The core issue is that reading about all the tantalizing military possibilities, again, distracts from the political reality. Practically the only thing pro-UK and pro-US takes on it have in common is that the both sides suddenly, like, won't quit - either Woke Palmerston is dismembering the country or the US is pursuing a "Canada first" strategy because who cares about the literal army next to DC. To pivot off of @Burton K Wheeler's point - let's pretend the crisis somehow escalates to war. The boring reality is that Britain then pastes the U.S. fleet and skirmishes a bit in Canada and Lincoln goes "can we give you reparations and like, part of Minnesota" and Palmerston goes "great, we won, you got this Lee, bye" because a) Lincoln doesn't even want Canada and doesn't have time for this b) come on, Palmerston is canny enough to treat the CSA as useful idiots and nothing more
Yeah, as with the Fulda scenario, the most likely outcome for the war is pretty much OTL with a lot more people dying, the Americans back down and apologize with no significant concessions. Any Rule Brittania/America Fuck Yeah scenario has to start with the idea that somehow Palmerston/Lincoln wants to destroy the USA/UK forever and that suddenly everybody on both sides goes completely insane. The significance of Trent as a POD is that the British considered recognizing the CSA as a result, but I doubt the British would really go significantly out of their way to fight on behalf of slavery, and it's just as likely that a conflict with Britain galvanizes US resolve in 1864 as it is to make them elect a peace candidate like Blessed McClellan.