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4.3 out of 5 stars24
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 21 October 2010
The plot line is very good and I jumped straight from book 1 to this one and was not dissapointed.

What is extremely irritating is the fact that there are typo errors on nearly every page, which distracts you from the story. This book is clearly an OCR scannded conversion and is has never been proofed. Considering that the Kindle version costs the same as the paperback version I'm not impressed. Stick with the real book.
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This is the second novel in the Axis of Time trilogy. I reviewed the first book, World War 2.1: Weapons of Choice over a year ago and enjoyed it, although it did fall a little towards being a stock military thriller, despite the excellent premise. The sequel represents a significant improvement in quality.

World War 2.2: Designated Targets picks up the story a couple of months later. Thanks to a wormhole experiment gone badly wrong, a UN multinational taskforce en route to relieve Jakarta from a terrorist incursion in 2021 has been transported back to 1942. Its arrival destroys the American Pacific Fleet just before it defeats the Japanese at the Battle of Midway. Despite this, the arrival of the UN taskforce and its pledge of allegiance to the Allied cause initially looked set to swing the war decisively in the Allies' favour, hopefully ending it months or years earlier than it would have done otherwise. Unfortunately, this proves not to be the case. The Russians, Japanese and the Germans all capture ships from the taskforce which ended up being transported further away and their foreknowledge of the future has enabled them to make drastic changes to their war plans far more quickly than the Allies can adapt.

The Germans and Russians have negotiated a ceasefire and now the Germans are concentrating their forces in Normandy and Calais, aware that capturing Britain before the US begins building up its invasion force there in strength is critical. The Japanese have withdrawn significant troops from China in order to launch a full-scale invasion of northern Australia, forcing MacArthur to divert resources to the building of immense fortified lines around Brisbane. The UN taskforce's precious stocks of missiles and advanced ammunition, which cannot be replaced, are running low. However, the US industrial machine is already rapidly adjusting to the information the taskforce has brought with it, with more advanced tanks (to replace the deathtrap Sherman M4s), aircraft and weapons from later in the war being rushed into production early.

The book's storyline follows several military campaigns, notably the invasion of Australia and the German preparations to assault southern Britain, but at the same time also concentrates on the sociological impact of the arrival of the fleet from the future. J. Edgar Hoover's authority has been eroded with the revelation of his personal habits, resulting in him using the FBI's resources to try and destroy the UN taskforce commander's credibility, making great comment of his force's use of women, coloured and (ironically) homosexual troops, not to mention the fact that the taskforce includes German, Russian and Japanese contingents. Meanwhile, the Russian and German high commands are undergoing pre-emptive purges in light of the revelation of the 20th July plot against Hitler and those Soviet leaders who later usurped Stalin's chosen succession after his death (Beria gains some revenge on Khruschev in a rather unpleasant scene). There's also some nice gallows humour here, as Hitler's initial rage at discovering the 'treachery' of several prominent Nazi leaders (notably Goering) late in the war is muted by his tearful appreciation of them going to their graves defending Nazism at Nuremberg.

Birmingham uses the situation for humour to good effect on several occasions, such as Himmler using grandiose musical accompaniment to his PowerPoint presentations (using a captured laptop) and later berating Microsoft for its badly-programmed products. Meanwhile, an American entrepreneur snaps up the rights to represent the 7-year-old Elvis and 16-year-old Marilyn Monroe long before they became famous in the 'other' timeline. As Britain faces the prospect of invasion, the BBC telecopies prints of later WW2 movies and Kenneth Brannagh's Henry V to bolster morale, whilst wiseguys in New York City become overnight fans of The Godfather and The Sopranos. However, the Allies decide to hold back on showing Schindler's List until they really need to fire up the populace against the Nazis.

Birmingham also holds fire on some of the elements he went overboard on in the first book. The poor prospects for black people, women and homosexuals in the WW2 era was rammed home a bit too often to the point where it slowed the progression of the story. In this sequel these elements continue to be pursued, but more subtly through the narrative rather than being info-dumped every few chapters.

There are some weaknesses, most notably the idea that Stalin would agree to a peace deal with Germany when he is told that Russia will win the war in Europe anyway seems massively out-of-character and extremely unlikely. Birmingham suggests that Stalin agrees to this to make preparations for the Cold War against the USA, but this isn't very convincing. Mostly, however, Desginated Targets (****) is a more thoughtful and interesting exploration of the issues raised by its impressive premise, whilst still featuring a lot of action.

The novel is published by Penguin in the UK and Del Rey in the USA. The final novel in the trilogy, Final Impact, is also available now.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 November 2010
This is an absolutely great follow up to the first in the Axis of Time Series Weapons of Choice: World War 2.1 (Axis of Time Trilogy 1), which I believe can be read as a part of the series or as a stand alone novel if you've not read the first in the series.

The story picks up with many of the characters introduced in the first book, some time has passed between each book but Birmingham manages to handle the second book in a series well, there are not the kind of protracted explanations of events which can prove an irration. As previously the characterisations are brilliant, each has their own distinct voice, style and narrative but it does not interfer with the overarching style and pace of delivery.

The book deals as previously with the transition/emergence of a 2021 future fleet into WW2 providing futuristic technology and fore knowledge of how the war proceeded in another time line, the allies and axis have both been influenced by this, trying entirely new strategies, including the invasion of Australia and bomb attacks in the US. However, there are other stories or minor narrativs developed in this book, a love story between some of the main characters, a murder mystery which was a sort of loose end at the finish of the previous book, a spy story and intrigue on the home front as the 2021 community goes into business producing future tech and there develops a full scale culture clash between them and J Edgar Hoover.

As with the previous book what I found most interesting where the occasional glances at the future provided in the text, revelations about assasinations, dirty bombs, intifadas in France and the UK, in France involving massive destruction and the rise of the French National Front. This is done pretty masterfully, included in reminiscence, recollections or minor pieces of internal dialogue on the parts of the characters, and does not prove distracting, I felt this was interesting because it allowed for some interesting contrasts. I had hoped that Birmingham would deal with the issue of fascists from the future, coming from a time which appears to be one of perpetual war with huge body counts and summary execution of suspected war criminals in theatres of war, I wondered if some would either feel more affinity with the Axis or hope that they could better avert the future wars than the Allies. Its done well and the contrast between future fascists and the full blown actuality of original fascism's cruelty and fanaticism is very real, also I thought that it was the more cowardly, corrupt future fleet protagonists who where likely to become supporters of the Axis.

For fans of the first book this will be essential and I dont think it will disappoint, for people new to Birmingham's books it will be a great read too. The pace and story is just so great that I would not be surprised if once you begin reading you power right through the book to the finish in no time at all.
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on 16 February 2011
I tried to read this book before Weapons of Choice (World War 2.1) as I came across it first, but I fairly quickly abandoned it to read book 1 first as much of the who, how and why are (understandably)not repeated in book 2.

This book concentrates more on the political and social consequences of a coalition of the 21st century forces turning up in World War II, by developing the alternative history as both the Axis Powers and Allies start to use the advantages of hindsight and technological advances.

There are some good action sequences and a touch of humour but perhaps a little bit too much repetition of cultural differences. I'm looking forward to book 3!
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on 30 August 2014
This adrenelin-packed, hard-to-put-down sequel to "Weapons of Choice" is as thrilling and gripping as that was. Whereas the first book in the series dealt with the culture shock of 21st century attitudes and advances coming into rude contact with mid-20th century prejudices early on in the Second World War, this book looks at the attempt by the Nazis and the Japanese (and to some extent, the Soviets) to rewrite the history books. Things don't always work out well for our 21st century heroes - there are, after all, problems with logistics and they are, after all, only human - but it is very easy to take sides and cheer them on as the nightmare unleashes.
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on 16 December 2007
The story line anyway! Book 1 was very much a detailed introduction with this book leading us into the meat of the consequences of the time warp. The reader is introduced to the changes in technology and the political landscape and the people of the 1940s as they take advantage of the information held by those of the multi-national naval force of the 21st century. The key characters are slowly beginning to get more meat on the bones but the plot is firmly focused the on "what if" consequences of the clashes in culture and technology.

You could get away with reading this as a stand alone but for those who read the first one and are hooked on the idea then keep on reading, for this one is better yet.
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on 9 March 2011
This chap is a talented writer and I have been really glad to discover his books. However I do feel that the shockingly poor attention given to tidying up the copy speaks of his disrespect to me as a buyer. The fact that I still paid money for such poor goods is testament to his writing.
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on 29 November 2011
Intended to complete these stories through the library. However wasn't given enough time to read each book. Either book to thick or slow reader. Good value to purchase and can now take my time. I will then sell them on.
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on 28 January 2014
Real page turner, John Birmingham knows how to hold the attention of the reader and smack him in the face now and again. Love alternative history and John is one of the best.
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on 21 June 2011
Books by John Birmingham are hard yo find in shops, especially in Thailand. Ordered 4 books through Amazon, all came next day in perfect condition. Great service as always.
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