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Dominion [Kindle Edition]

C. J. Sansom
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,151 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints. There are terrible rumours too about what is happening in the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House. Defiance, though, is growing. In Britain, Winston Churchill's Resistance organization is increasingly a thorn in the government's side. And in a Birmingham mental hospital an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle for ever.



Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given the mission to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country. Before long he, together with a disparate group of Resistance activists, will find themselves fugitives in the midst of London's Great Smog; as David's wife Sarah finds herself drawn into a world more terrifying than she ever could have imagined. And hard on their heels is Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer Gunther Hoth, brilliant, implacable hunter of men . . .



At once a vivid, haunting reimagining of 1950s Britain, a gripping, humane spy thriller and a poignant love story, with Dominion C. J. Sansom once again asserts himself as the master of the historical novel.



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Review

‘C. J. Sansom takes a break from his Shardlake series to offer Dominion, an absorbing, thoughtful, spy-politico thriller set in the fog-ridden London of 1952. Not, however, the year as it is usually remembered. Sansom has attempted a difficult format — the “what if?” novel. What if, in 1940, Lord Halifax became prime minister instead of Churchill? Britain would have made peace with Hitler, Sansom answers, and by 1952 become a totalitarian state, with Germany, acting as puppet-master rather than invader, setting the scene. Churchill, in hiding, is leader of a resistance movement, to which the hero of Dominion, David Fitzgerald, a civil servant hiding his Jewishness, belongs. Part adventure, part espionage, all encompassed by terrific atmosphere and a well-argued “it might have been”’ Marcel Berlins, The Times

‘An intriguing thriller set in an alternative Britain under the Nazis cunningly reanimates the post-war years as they might have been . . . What if the second world war had ended not in 1945, but in 1940? In this haunting, vividly imagined novel by C. J. Sansom, the hinge on which history turns is the resignation of Neville Chamberlain in May 1940. . . As in the Shardlake novels, set in Tudor England, for which he is best known, Sansom is an admirably expansive and unhurried storyteller. His characters are all given personal histories and richly detailed pasts that serve to provide them with a depth more usually associated with literary fiction than the thriller. Their conversations do more than just drive forward the plot: they help to give substance and reality to the world they inhabit. The alternative Britain that Sansom constructs, a brilliant amalgam of the 1950s as they actually were and as they might have been, is entirely convincing. Throwaway details cleverly add verisimilitude to his portrait. The tale he sets within his parallel universe is at once exciting, sophisticated and moving. There will be few better historical novels published this year’ Sunday Times

‘This is a big novel with traces of a thriller, in which the good are good and the bad are very bad indeed . . . For readers who enjoy a grown-up adventure story Dominion is evocative, alarming and richly satisfying’ Daily Express

‘Masterly . . . sketched with hallucinatory clarity . . . Sansom, whose Tudor mysteries showed his feeling for the plight of good people in a brutal, treacherous society, builds his nightmare Britain from the sooty bricks of truth . . . From the thuggish "Auxies" who beat up protestors to the apolitical rebellion of the "Jive Boys", every note in Sansom's smoggy hell rings true . . .No bulldog defiance in 1940; no weary triumph in 1945; no dogged renewal with the post-war Welfare State: Dominion shows us what a truly broken Britain would look, and feel, like’ Boyd Tonkin, Independent

‘A thriller which is also, and perhaps primarily, a work of alternative or counter-factual history, set in 1952 . . . in the manner of Robert Harris’s Fatherland. There are fine things a-plenty here, and the plot unfolds compellingly and gallops along briskly. C. J. Sansom has brought off a nice double, writing a good thriller which invites you to ponder the different course history might have taken’ Allan Massie, Scotsman

‘C. J. Sansom is fascinated by the abuse of power, so it's not surprising that, hot on the heels of his splendid Shardlake series, comes a novel set in a post-war Britain dominated by Nazi ideology . . . There have been a number of other novels imagining this kind of alternate history – Robert Harris's Fatherland, Owen Sheers' Resistance, Len Deighton's SS-GB and, for children, Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon. All are outstanding in different ways but Sansom's Dominion is the most thoroughly imagined in all its ramifications. Like Harris, Sansom has woven a thriller with the tale of a man's growth into moral courage, but he has done it with the compassion and richness that many literary writers should emulate. Every detail of this nightmare Britain rings true . . . As in Sansom's Winter in Madrid, the clash between compassion and political conviction is dramatised. David's looks and talent make him as freakish in his way as frail, disabled Frank, and the friendship between someone who can survive institutions and someone who cannot is one of the most affecting aspects of the novel . . . Naturally, the weather is awful, and obliges with a choking, oily fog as our heroes battle against hideous odds to get to safety. But both as a historical novel and a thriller, Dominion is absorbing, mordant and written with a passionate persuasiveness . . . Bravo!’ Independent on Sunday

‘One of the thrills of Dominion is to see a writer whose previous talent has been for the captivating dramatisation of real history (in his five books about the Tudor sleuth, Matthew Shardlake, and the Spanish civil war novel Winter in Madrid) creating an invented mid-20th century Britain that has the intricate detail and delineation of JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth . . .A tremendous novel that shakes historical preconceptions while also sending shivers down the spine’ Mark Lawson, Guardian

‘The chase is exciting and the action thrilling, but the really absorbing part of this excellent book is the detailed creation of a society that could so easily have existed’ Literary Review

‘Fans of Robert Harris will love this’ Mail on Sunday

Dominion is terrific. And no, this isn't one of those publisher-sponsored blurbs. I just fell in love with it. Nice and long, too. (Stephen King)

Book Description

The Great Smog. London. A dense, choking fog engulfs the city and beneath it, history is re-written . . .

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1573 KB
  • Print Length: 604 pages
  • Publisher: Mantle; Open market ed edition (25 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230744168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230744165
  • ASIN: B008PQ8UX0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,920 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative 3 Feb. 2013
By Bron
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a "what might have been" novel - what might have happened had Churchill not gained power at a critical moment and the government continued a policy of appeasement. It is set in 1952, 12 years after a treaty is made with Germany. In the intervening years Britain has become an authoritarian state which increasingly collaborates with the German Nazi government. There has also been a growing British Resistance under Churchill. The main characters are highlighted against this backdrop as they become part of a web to prevent critical information from falling into the hands of the Germans.

This is not a Shardlake novel, don't start reading it thinking it is going to be an exquisitely crafted Tudor murder mystery. This is an equally well crafted but thought provoking book which requires the reader to imagine an alternative history for Britain and it is Sansom's alternative history, not the reader's. From the many divided reviews about this book one can see that Sansom's ideas about how history might have panned out are not to everybody's taste. Sansom has placed real historical figures into his revised landscape and readers are going to have widely differing opinions as to whether these characters should occupy these places and propound the ideologies that are given to them in this alternate history.

But if you can abandon yourself to Sansom's alternate history you can find a provocative read that is steeped in the gloom and desperation of his revised landscape just like the Great Smog of 1952 which looms evocatively in the plot. The characters are flawed and real, fanatics and pacifists, they grow and shrink as they are buffeted by the events. It makes for a real and desperate world which you leave at the end of the book with a sigh of relief that it is only what might have been and not what did happen.
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308 of 343 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Disappointing 30 Oct. 2012
By C. E. Utley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a great admirer of Sansom's Shardlake novels. He has a thorough understanding of Tudor England and his stories set in that era are wonderful to read. This novel is a considerable change for him.

The story, what he calls an "alternate history", is set in 1952 (the year of his birth and - as it happens - mine). Britain had negotiated a peace treaty with Hitler in 1940. The war in the west ended then, though it lumbered on in the east. By 1952 Russia and Germany are still at war. But Britain is run by a pro-treaty government which has outlawed the opposition. Germany is Britain's closest ally. The government has become more and more authoritarian. At the time the story is set, all British Jews are being rounded up with the aim of sending them to eastern Europe to be gassed. Churchill, the leader of the resistance, is a wanted man, running from large country house to large country house to escape the Special Branch. The British police willingly give their assistance to the SS. British subjects are routinely taken to the basement of the German embassy to be tortured.

Against that background we meet the story's main characters. Frank Muncaster is a slightly unhinged geologist whose brother, a scientist working in America on secret weapons, blurts out something to Frank about the work he is doing in America. Frank is horrified. He pushes his brother through a window and, as a result, is dragged off to a lunatic asylum. David Fitzgerald is Frank's only real friend from university days. He is a civil servant. He has worked for the resistance for a couple of years, copying secret documents. When his relationship with Frank is discovered the resistance enlists his help in getting Frank out of the asylum before the Germans get hold of him. The adventure is on its way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Plot undermines story 8 Jan. 2015
By DT
Format:Paperback
In Berlin, shortly after Hitler’s death in 1952, Goebbels decreed that the Hitler salute would remain the official greeting forever. This verbatim statement from C. J. Sansom’s novel, “Dominion” (2012), is a startling reminder of what might have been. In Britain, an unoccupied but subservient ally of Nazi Germany, Sansom describes a society in which pre-World War II Britain "was gone, had instead turned into a place where an authoritarian government in league with fascist thugs thrived on nationalist dreams of empire, on scapegoats and 'enemies’”. “Dominion” has something of the feel of “1984”: propaganda, greyness, the use of Senate House (Orwell's Ministry of Truth) as the German Embassy (it had been a building coveted by Hitler), and spies and informers embedded in the society. Sansom is also persuasive, though hardly original, in explaining the rise of Nazism in Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and sharp on the incipient or pre-fascist tendencies in British society: Mosley, Powell, a lurch rightwards by the Beaverbrook-owned press, bullying and militarism in public schools, and anti-semitism, less rampant than in Germany but present.

Although all of this sounds more like a history-lesson than a novel, it is the carefully described what-if aspect of “Dominion” that accounts for its achievement, and, in particular, the way in which the chilling terror of the 1930s in Germany and Germany-controlled territories gets a re-run in Britain in its alliance with Germany, following the peace treaty signed with Germany by the governments of Britain and France.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
ok
Published 1 day ago by peter nash
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling read
A very plausible alternate history.
You are quickly drawn in to the lives of the characters.
I felt the ending was strong and wasn't an anti-climax at all. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars First class read
Please do not miss this book. It is a fantastic read. Best he has done to date.
Published 4 days ago by Rowena
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant......
This is an amazing story....exceptionally well told. A Britain allied with Nazi Germany after surrendering following the fall of France. What a scary place.......
Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing setting but plot only so-so.
The setting of this book in a 1950’s Britain which had made peace with Germany in 1940 is the best thing about it. Britain is a German ally with a creeping authoritarian state. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Damo Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and brilliantly written as ever by Sansom
I enjoyed the characters of this story even the awful ones, this book reminds me how very lucky this country is to be as diverse and free to write and read such thought provoking... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Law de Law
4.0 out of 5 stars another page-turning thriller
Once again CJ Sansom expresses the soulful weaving and sense of mortality within a historical - even if paradoxical - tale. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyed reading this story but thought it could have been a bit more compelling.
Published 16 days ago by Mrs J P Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Could not put it down
Published 18 days ago by AMD
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
The story is tense and believable. Too scared to continue reading, but compelled to finish. The book is an excellent read!
Published 18 days ago by Chris Estlin
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