by Harry Turtledove
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345491824
Date: 04 August 2009
List Price $27.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Harry Turtledove's Home Page / Show Official Info /
A couple pieces of luggage will change the course of WWII. When Sanjoro listens to his pilot and doesn’t bring heavy luggage on his return flight to Spain, his plane doesn’t crash and he retains leadership of the Spanish insurrection. Franco doesn’t come to Power. When a too convenient assassination happens just before the yielding of Czechoslovakia; the war in Europe kicks off earlier than in our time line.
The British and French declare war on Germany and Germany is forced to fight its way into Czechoslovakia. This takes time and damages a major industrial area. On top of the additional fighting, the equipment that is being used is not as effective as it would have been in another year. Lighter armed and armored panzers are used. Tactically still superior, the delays allow for a better defense.
(Major Spoilers in this sub-paragraph -- skip to the next if you don't want to know details)
The events of this WWII have begun to vary from those of our WWII. Poland allies with Germany over Soviet incursions. Japan declares war and invades Soviet Siberia. There is a long and brutal fight over France. The Spanish Civil War continues on and Gibraltar falls. All of these events are leading up to a much different war.
Told through several points of view, the reader will see how the war is fought through the eyes of the little people. This is a standard style used by Harry Turtledove. The reader will see through the eyes of a German Jew, a Russian pilot, a British foot soldier, a French foot soldier, a Czech patriot, an American Jew fighting in Spain, A Spanish rebel, a trapped American tourist, an American marine, a Japanese NCO, a Nazi tank commander, submarine captain, and a dive bomber pilot. In addition you get some single scenes with major historical figures. This web creates a picture of the greater world and the events that people face. There is no POV in the Americas.
This is the start of a new series. The conclusion of the novel leaves things hanging upon noting a major shift in the course of the war. There are no guarantees of victory for anyone. Continental Europe is likely to be more ravaged than in our timeline because of the longer fight for France.
I enjoyed this novel. The greater divergence from historic battles provides greater satisfaction. The changes do need to follow logical conclusions and paths. The development of an atom bomb in 1939 wouldn’t make sense, but the bombing of Paris would. This war has some interesting things coming and I eagerly await the next volume.
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