February 19, 2020

Review: Liberty 1784 by Robert Conroy

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What if? Is a great historical thought exercise to play. What if the Germans got the bomb first? What if Gettysburg had ended differently? Are we existing in some sort of strange alternate history now, and is there a reality in which Paris Hilton is the lizard-tailed President of the United States?

It explains some of the bizarre occurrences in this here reality, that’s for sure.  This week’s review, entitled Liberty 1784: The Second War for Independence by Robert Conroy and out from Baen Books looks at just one such intriguing historical possibility.

Robert Conroy is a master of alternate timeline fiction. Fans of this space will remember our reviews of Himmler’s War and Rising Sun, also published by Baen. Conroy has found an enviable niche of sub-sub fiction genre to claim as his own as a fertile playground of the imagination.

In Liberty 1784: The Second War for Independence, things haven’t gone so well for the American Revolutionaries. The pivotal battles of Yorktown saw the arrival and victory of British re-enforcements, and George Washington is captured and executed in the very opening scene of the book. Defeated in the initial “first American Revolution,” the remaining patriots retreat into the western wilderness and regroup at a free site that becomes known as Liberty. Under harsh and austere conditions, the stage is for a final showdown.

Real life heroes such as Benjamin Franklin are depicted in Liberty 1784 as well. Franklin was smuggled back to the colonies from Europe after the defeat and it’s his ingenuity and inventiveness that is hoped to provide the rebels with the edge to defeat the British. Heck, Sam Adams even shows up, supplying the austere outpost with a surprisingly delicious brew!

Some of the moral and social implications of such an alteration of the timeline are addressed as well. How different might the constitution and the Articles of Confederation had been? Would the colonies had to address slavery? What would the impact of a failed revolution in the New World had been on those fomenting in Europe? As you can see, pulling on one historical thread can make the whole ball unravel…

But Liberty 1784 also hits high marks for non-stop action as well. Sabers rattle and musket balls fly, as the redcoats chase the rebels off into the wilderness and the patriots seek to reclaim independence to the fledgling nation. And amidst this struggle the Native Americans must pick sides in an attempt to tip the balance of power. This also paralleled reality, as the French and Indian War that prefaced the American War for Independence also featured differing Native American factions aligned with the French and the English. The politics of the early Americas were a complex affair, indeed.

Be sure to check out Liberty 1784: The Second War for Independence for some great non-stop historical action!

Next week: speaking of politics, we look to space as geopolitical goings on heads up into low Earth orbit, with Crowded Orbits by James Clay Moltz.

Be sure to watch this space!

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