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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another alternative WW2 - but again he finds more to say
In which World War II starts in 1938 after the Munich peace talks fail ...

This book kicks off yet another alternative version of World War II from Harry Turtledove, and I was quite astonished that he can still find new things to write about it, but he does and I found it an excellent read.

In the opening paragraphs of the book Turtledove makes two...
Published on 29 Oct 2009 by Marshall Lord

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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing concept badly played out
This is a very ingenious conceit -start the war in 1938 and speculate on what might happen...this is handled well,and with a convincing eye. The role of the French Army and the implciations for Spain are particulalry well done.

However, it is let down by Turtledove overdosing on his standard style of concentrating on the experiences of a host of characters from...
Published on 21 Aug 2009 by Bill Kelly


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing concept badly played out, 21 Aug 2009
By 
Bill Kelly "willireid" (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hitler's War (Paperback)
This is a very ingenious conceit -start the war in 1938 and speculate on what might happen...this is handled well,and with a convincing eye. The role of the French Army and the implciations for Spain are particulalry well done.

However, it is let down by Turtledove overdosing on his standard style of concentrating on the experiences of a host of characters from across the globe. This approach worked in the "Colonization" and the "American Empire/Settling Accounts" series because it was tempered with the view of real figures and some of the policy makers. In this volume the balance is very much on the fictitious participants and, goodness me, there are a lot. The consequence is you end up not caring because we get so little background. The other issue is one of language; he repeats the weaknesses of the "Colonisation" series of making non-Americans seem stereotyped and, well, silly in their speech. Brits say bloody a lot, French say "mon dieu!" etc, etc. Lazy writing.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another alternative WW2 - but again he finds more to say, 29 Oct 2009
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hitler's War: v. 1 (Hardcover)
In which World War II starts in 1938 after the Munich peace talks fail ...

This book kicks off yet another alternative version of World War II from Harry Turtledove, and I was quite astonished that he can still find new things to write about it, but he does and I found it an excellent read.

In the opening paragraphs of the book Turtledove makes two changes in real history, and works from there. First, in 1936 General Jose Sanjuro listens to the pilot who warns him not to overload their light plane with heavy trunks full of his uniforms. Consequently the plane does not crash, (as in real history it did) and Sanjuro rather than Franco becomes leader of the Nationalist side in the Spanish civil war.

Then during the Munich negotiations, news comes that the leader of the Sudeten Germans, Konrad Henlein, has been assassinated by a Czech. Hitler, wanting war, uses this as an excuse to press for even more punitive terms against Czechoslovakia in the hope that they will be rejected. Chamberlain and Daladier, finally recognising that Hitler is determined on war and suspecting that he had actually ordered Henlein's murder himself, tell the Germans that if they attack Czechoslovakia Britain and France will honour their obligations to the Czechs. Hitler orders the invasion of Czechoslovakia on the spot and the war starts a year early.

As usual for a Harry Turtledove book, the war is seen through the eyes of a large number of fictional viewpoint characters, one or more from each of the countries involved: these include an American woman caught in Prague by the outbreak of war, a Jewish family in Munich, a German panzer commander, stuka pilot, and U-Boat skipper, British and Japanese sergeants, a Czech corporal, etc. Major historical figures like Hitler and De Gaulle get mentions as they impact on the lives of the main characters.

Turtledove has clearly done a fair amount of homework on the tactical capabilities of equipment available to the armed forces of all sides in 1938 based on how they actually performed a year later. People who know more about the issue than I have found a few mistakes which I missed, but the book expresses the capabilities of 1938 equipment very effectively in terms of how the strengths and weaknesses of the planes, tanks and guns concerned could affect the human beings whose lives depended on that kit. In many ways this is the best aspect of the novel and it is fairly well done.

Unfortunately he does give in to his worst fault, that of repeating the same information far too many times - for example there must be at least three almost identical scenes in the book in which different characters witness machine gunners attempt to surrender, only to be shot down in cold blood, and the witnesses think almost identical thoughts about how hard it is for machine gun crews to surrender.

This is the fifth alternative version of World War II which Turtledove has written. He has previously done stories with aliens from Tau Ceti invading in 1942 (the Worldwar series which begins with "Worldwar: In the Balance (New English library)"), and a parallel history following pretty much the real track, in a world where technology uses magic rather than engineering (known variously as the Darkness, Derlavi, or 'World at War' series, and beginning with "Into the Darkness).

There is also an alternative World War II in his massive ten volume epic in which the Confederate States of America survives for nearly a century following a Rebel victory in the US Civil War, which has the same roles as in the historical WWII carried out by different people: the alternative WWII parts of this are the "Settling Accounts" quartet. And there is a pair of novels, "Days of Infamy" and "End of the Beginning" which explore the possibility that Japan might have backed up the air strikes on Pearl Harbour with a land invasion of Hawaii.

Having done so many alternative versions of World War II, you would think he would find it impossible to say anything new about them or maintain the reader's interest. I predicted when I first drafted this review that not everyone would enjoy this book as much as I did and that there would be reviews on here describing the series that starts with "Hitler's War" along the lines of "more of the same." I see there are indeed a number of negative reviews, mostly making the case "good concept, poor execution."

I can only say that this does not describe my experience: the book had me completely hooked and left me looking forward to the sequel, "The War That Came Early: West and East." I have now read that sequel and enjoyed it even more than "Hitler's War" because the writing was a bit more disciplined - less repetition, for instance. If you liked most of Turtledove's other books, there is a good chance that you will enjoy this series.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow start to Turtledove's latest series, 2 Nov 2009
By 
Mark Klobas (Tempe, AZ, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hitler's War: v. 1 (Hardcover)
For the past sixty years, the name "Munich" has been synonymous in the historical imagination with the craven surrender of Czechoslovakian territory in return for a peace settlement that proved illusory. But what if it had turned out differently? What if, instead of postponing the Second World War for a year, the conference in Munich between the European leaders had failed? What if war broke out over Czechoslovakia instead of Poland? This is the premise of Harry Turtledove's latest alternate history series.

In it, Turtledove tries something new; instead of positing a single point of divergence, he imagines two: the avoidance of the plane crash in 1936 that killed the Spanish general Jose Sanjurjo and allowed Francisco Franco to take over Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War, and the assassination of Sudeten German leader Konrad Heinlein in the midst of the Munich Conference. Turtledove uses these to create a different Second World War, one in which Germany begins the conflict without some of the advantages they would enjoy a year later, and with the Soviets fighting against the Nazis from the outset.

In narrating this conflict the author uses his usual technique of using the experiences of a series of fictional soldiers and civilians to depict events. While some fans will find this familiarity comforting, it gives the distinct sense of the novel as nothing more than another by-the-numbers alternate history work in the Turtledove mold, with little outside of the premise that is original. This would matter less if the book were up to his earlier standards, yet it is not. Character development is particularly lacking. Unlike his earlier novels, there is little description of their backgrounds; instead they are simply dumped into the narrative, with their experiences and views leaving them often indistinguishable from one another.

The result is a subpar start to what is otherwise an enjoyably different take on the sub-genre of alternate-Second World War scenarios. Ending as it does in the middle of the conflict, a sequel will probably come out next year while will move events forward, perhaps even wrap them up. Hopefully the follow-up will be embody more of the enthusiasm and energy that has been a hallmark of Turtledove's best work, lest his new series be written off as a failed opportunity with a new premise.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dull potboiler, 3 Mar 2010
By 
Alpha Geek (Scunthorpe, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hitler's War (Paperback)
It's already been mentioned that the characters are clichés, everyone of them talks and thinks like a modern American except for the odd "bloody", "Hai" or "Tovarisch" to give you yet another clue as to their nationality. As a wargamer with an interest in the Early part of WWII I was really (really really) looking forward to a good read (and ideas for games) and was still doing so by the time I reached the last page. Not enough about the war itself (the sweep and what was happening in the world), too much on the actual fighting (any of the battles could have been from any war novel) and Turtledove definitely needs much better reference books: for example the Me 109 didn't have a cannon in the nose until mid 1940, French tanks didn't have bow machine guns, the Henschel 123 was Hs 123 not He 123 (He was a Heinkel designation) and Wehrmacht is NOT German for "army" (it means "armed forces" i.e. the army (Heer) AND navy (Kriegsmarine) AND airforce (Luftwaffe)) etc. Too many jarring notes for me.
I may read the sequels, as and when I come across them, but they're not going to be on my "must get" list at any point.
Maybe I was expecting too much, but it was a "I've read it and so what?" read. Disappointing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The war that comes early, 9 Mar 2010
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hitler's War (Paperback)
First in a new series of alternate history novels from Harry Turtledove, who specialises in this kind of story.

This runs for roughly 498 pages and is the story of how world war two might have been had two things happened differently.

Firstly, in 1936, Jose Sanjurjo, original leader of the fascist forces in the spanish civil war, doesnt die in the plane crash that killed him in the history we know. Come 1938, the war has bogged down into a bloody stalemate.

Then, at the munich conference in 1938, with chamberlain and daladier falling over themselves to appease Hitler, who is desperate for an excuse to go to war as he thinks the allies aren't ready, the leader of the germans in the sudetenland is assassinted. And that's the excuse that Hitler needs. German tanks thus roll across the czech border. France and Britain and russia declare war, but Poland sides with germany thinking that will protect them from russia.

The usual format of turtledove novels then follows. Multiple viewpoint characters who we come back to from time to time. They are ordinary people caught up in the middle of history as it unfolds around them.

This being the start of a new series it means it's the first we've seen of these characters so they take a while getting used to. And some don't register as much as you might hope. Many are servicemen in various arms from various nations all of whom seem to be there just to comment on how bad their leaders are and how terrible war is. But others are stronger. Your heart will ache for teenage german jew Sarah Goldman and the horrors inflicted on her family. And Peggy Druce, american lady stuck in europe by the outbreak of war, is also quite appealing.

There are strong bits of writing though that do make you feel as if you're in the middle of battle, and things do begin to take an interesting turn right towards the end as battle doesn't go the way you might expect. There's some clever writing in these chapters as the same battles are seen from different viewpoints.

The whole thing does end of a very big cliffhanger ss a result of this, and it made me very eager to find what will happen next. So all in all this does it's job well. It's a good start to the series that will make you desperate to find what happens next. Some may wish to be aware there's the occasional bit of strong language and a handful of scenes of an adult nature.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Really rather bland, 12 July 2014
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This review is from: Hitler's War: v. 1 (Hardcover)
BLAND
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3.0 out of 5 stars Pedestrian, 27 July 2013
By 
M. Notman "northernfag" (sheffield uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hitler's War (Paperback)
Things i liked- Wide ranging, the battles and locations seem well researched, it doesnt do what a lot of American war novels do and pretend it was USA!! vs everyone else, some of the characters are ok and its generally fairly well written.
The Problems- ALL of the soldier characters come across like WW2 american army grunts, regardless of the army they are in. The Japanese army certainly wasnt like that, the British wasnt and the French had way more panache in their running away/surrendering! Also it drags incredibly slowly, you could easily cut half of the repeated visits to the Czech soldier as they are all pretty much identical. Ditto with the Soviet/Luftwaffe pilots.
Sorry to say i got rather bored.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It had the feel of last nights dinner served for breakfast, 25 April 2010
By 
This review is from: Hitler's War (Paperback)
Oh this book is dull. I'm afraid that Turtledove is a bit of a one trick pony. If you read one of his books then you've read them all. This book felt really tired, same old format and same old events. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't even finish it. Although I'll never know for certain, I'm pretty sure what will happen next and just can't be bothered to find out.

I would compare it to all those Police Academy films, what seemed good at first just got stale by the end because the theme had been played out.

Sorry Harry, I loved your early stuff but don't come back until you've read a bit of different history and reappraied how you lay out your prose.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Curate's Egg, 3 Oct 2010
This review is from: Hitler's War (Paperback)
Like the curate's egg, this is definitely a book that is good in parts. Yet I give it 4 stars, almost reluctantly, because it nevertheless compelled me to keep reading, devouring it over a weekend.

Good Stuff
Basically, this is the concept - the what-if of war over Czechoslovakia in 1938. Included alongside the imagined path of history from there are themes and events taken from reality, such as the feeble French advance on the outbreak of war, which happened as described, only in response to war over Poland; the French tendency to disperse their (generally better) tanks; the importance of the Czech fortifications and the Skoda works; the original German plan for invading the West (which was only changed in Spring 1940); the German generals' plot against Hitler in 1938. There are accurate depictions of some battle scenes and outcomes, such as the vulnerability of the Stuka to any other aircraft and the failure of any Luftwaffe attack on the UK, especially while the Battle for France was still going on. The effect of the wider war on the Spanish Civil War was well done, though I'm not sure why the survival of Gen Sanjurjo was included, save that it explained the attack on Gibraltar.

Harry loves to put in a few allusions and references to an eclectic mix of sources. Here, my favourite, by a long way is "Back in the USSR. Sergei Yaroslavsky didn't realise how lucky he was..". (p 91)

Perhaps the best effect of this and others of Harry's books is that it makes you genuinely root for the right side. I noticed this in his 'Return Engagement' series - not only did the Confederates feel evil, but so too, by extension, did the real Nazis. Naturally, we all know slave-owning is bad and the Nazis were almost unbelievably evil, but Harry makes you FEEL that as well as know it.

Either Way
Things that could be seen as good or bad are also evident. The story is overwhelmingly given from the point of view of ordinary fighters. That certainly gives a consistent style and generally realistic feel to the action, but it is somewhat repetitive (both in feel and often in specific words and phrases) and it can make it harder to follow the overall picture. Similarly, most of the explanation/conversation centres around smoke breaks. Again, undoubtedly realistic, but repetitive. The characters seem to be almost interchangeable (as noted in another review) - unlikely given the gulfs of social and cultural difference between the Soviet, Nazi, Japanese, American, British and French people of the time. However, it could be seen (along with the universal obsession with cigarettes) as a (perhaps blunt) way of showing the basic humanity of all those actually at the sharp end.

The success of the German advance into France is used to illustrate the power of the new German tactics, but given that a re-run of the Schleiffen Plan was exactly what the Allies expected, and so they placed their best units to meet such an attack, and that the Panzer I's and II's were fatally vulnerable even to anti-tank rifles, I would think the Germans would run out of steam well before the outskirts of Paris.

The technical details are very well done, but I waited in vain for an appearance of the British Matilda II to make a dramatic attack, as they did against Rommel in France, but this time properly supported as a result of hard-learned lessons of the war up till then.

Bad Stuff
The dialogue, notwithstanding the notes above, is littered with bits of actual foreign language, like the old film convention of the Germans speaking in English, but with a German accent. It also has everyone speaking like Americans and using American idioms, as well as Harry's established favourites, well used in all his books. Again, this might be acceptable as a convention (even with a preface explaining it) to put all the characters on a par for the reader, but this is rejected in favour of stereotypical phrases (the Brits say 'bloody' a lot, as noted elsewhere). A particular, but mercifully short-lived, example was the attempt to write in aCockney accent: arguably the worst few lines in the book. The only place this made sense was in the increasing use of Yiddish by the Jewish family, as that would be secondary to their main language and signifies their shift of identity from German to Jewish.

Harry consistently rates the German Army of 1938 to be superior to the Kaiser's, especially of 1914, when actually the reverse is true, being one of the main worries of the German generals regarding Hitler's aggressive foreign policy. Bar the still small cadre of professionals the conscript masses of 1938 were not as well trained (even motivated?) as those in 1914. This is utterly unsurprising - three years is not enough time to transform an army of thousands to one of millions. Similarly, Harry has the Czech armament works overrun, then producing tanks again inside a couple of weeks at most. Even if it is allowed that only the tanks captured were at issue, a) there would not be enough to equip 4 Panzer divisions (as in 1940) and b) in any event, new divisions, especially armoured ones cannot be formed and activated on the hoof.

Regarding the use of snorkels on U-boats, there is a similar telescoping of possible events. Given that the Germans actually overran the Netherlands in 1940, but took about 2 years to be experimentally fitted to a U-boat, the sheer short-sightedness, obstructionist, stupid and corrupt effects of procurement bureaucracies (of any army in any age) should not be underestimated. Harry has things moving with fantastic smoothness here.

The worst error (or the one that grates me the most) was Harry's confusion regarding the word 'Whermacht', which he thinks means 'Army'. Actually, it means 'Armed Forces' ie the army, navy and air force, while the correct word for the German WW II army is 'Heer'. Unfortunately, that doesn't sound as sexy and threatening as 'Whermacht' so it often gets submerged, while 'Luftwaffe' and even 'Kreigsmarine' survive correct usage.

Overall
Despite everything, you can't help buying and enjoying Harry's books. Indeed, the picking of flaws and disagreeing with the scenarios are part of the fun. More power to Harry's elbow (but do use a wider variety of dialogue).
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow start to the "War tha came Early", 9 April 2010
By 
zeev wolfe (MetroWest Boston, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hitler's War: v. 1 (Hardcover)
Harry Turtledove writes some of the best war and alternate history around. That said, even Harry can write something like this in his sleep. If you look at his website, this is the first in a projected five/six book series and he is taking his time introducing us to his menu of characters. Like most of his series, there are people a plenty and it takes time to explain their situations and how the war is effecting them.

But, this book has the feel of half-a-book, there is such a thing as too much characterization. By the end of the novel I have learned four new ways to say "F..k you". Now that may serve me well sometime in the future, but I'd like to understand more of the history and less of the alternate. Strangely enough, of all the nations fighting in this "WW 2", no one Italian has shown up yet, and the only Chinese is a servant in the US Embassy in Peking. So that's why I think this isn't the whole first book. The second, called "East West" (snappy title) is probably that second half and maybe is the bringing of the US into the war.

The third book due in 2012 (if we live that long) is titled "The Big Switch", which portents that one of the major Allies or Axis will switch sides or come in on a different side (probably the former) to make this more of an alternate as opposed to a replay. So we'll just have to wait and see.

Zeev Wolfe
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Hitler's War
Hitler's War by Harry Turtledove (Paperback - 21 Jan 2010)
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