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2.8 out of 5 stars25
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VINE VOICEon 21 August 2009
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 October 2009
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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on 13 September 2014
The minute I read the sentence describing how a French character could speak "good British English" I knew the book would be a challenge. Surely only software setup routines refer to "British English", not a character in 1938 Europe, let alone in the UK or Europe today.

I finally shut up shop just a few pages further on as an American character was given respite from walking on her bleeding feet when.... "Somebody gave her a pair of flats".

Sorry Harry, this is written in far too modern a style for my personal tastes, and reminds me of someone that has never ventured beyond the continental United States in his life. One whose diction and written style plus understanding of his own native tongue is far too localised for me to portray a convincing set of characters involved in war torn 1930's Europe.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 November 2009
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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on 3 March 2010
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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on 27 July 2013
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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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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on 31 August 2013
As with HT's other alternative history books, a knowledge of what in reality happened is what makes HT's alternative history track enjoyable. Not just war stories, but politics and social matters as well. Hitler's War is the first in this series and after reading it, I have bought the rest of the series. it will take me time to finish them. It is probably better to read them all before giving a final opinion. However, it has started well and worth four stars. Enjoy!
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on 2 October 2014
An enjoyable read, very much in the author's usual, easy to read style. The only disappointment is that it does not seriously depart from what actually happened a year later than when the book is set, so it's similar to reading a novel based on reality. I would have preferred a few more departures and twists. It did have me hooked though!
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on 6 November 2015
Very disappointing and tediously repetitive (as described by others). A series of 'personal perspective' stories from the various fictional characters embroiled in the (premature) Second World War, with insufficient presentation or analysis of the global, economic, military factors that might influence the overall outcome.
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