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3.3 out of 5 stars16
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 15 November 2011
This book has, theoretically, a lot going for it. An alternative history of a Nazi Britain puppet state under the auspices of homegrown fascist Oswald Mosley.

What's not to like?

What's not to like, sadly, is the effort put forth by Guy Walters. I usually struggle on through any book, no matter how much it disappoints me, simply because, well, I don't know, it's rude not to.

But this is one of the few books that I've had to abandon.

The main reason is Walter's ludicrous portrayal of Mosley himself. Sadly for me, and Walters in the case of this review, I happened to read Robert Skidelsky's definate biography, "Oswald Mosley", before reading Walter's novel.

Whatever you views on Mosley, evil fascist/misguided genius/something in between, what anyone who has taken the time to look at Mosley's actual life will notice is that it is nothing like the absurd one-dimensional character put forward by Walters.

Walter's Mosley is nothing but an embarressing, hilariously Disney-esque villian in this book. The point that I stopped reading this hogwash was when Mosley commissioned a rape to futher his evil plans. Again, anyone who is objective and reads about Mosley through fact, as with the Skideldky biography, rather than very bad fiction, as with Walter's book, will know that this is poetic licence taken to ludicrous extremes.

Mosley is a complex character, admittedly, but to have such a scene, which is so far removed from Mosley's actual make-up, makes the rest of the book really not worth bothering about, especially as it's supposed to be "historical" fiction.

For anyone who is interested in Mosley, I would seriously suggest reading Skidelsky's biography. Then read Walter's book again. And then you'll see how such an intersting idea has been wasted by a writer like Walters who lazily went for sensationalism rather than subtly exploring all the possibilites such an interesting initial concept had to offer.
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VINE VOICEon 20 April 2004
First off, I'd like to start with a comment on the cover of this book....
Back in the 1970s the humourist Alan Coren once observed that books on the Nazis, golf and cats sold well. Hence his amusing book 'Golfing for Cats' complete with Nazi swastikas. I can't say whether books on cats or golf still do well, but I suspect books on the Nazis and the 'dark decade' of the 1930s still do.

Everytime somebody writes a book on the Nazis, or especially a "What if" book such as this, publishers will always paint the cover blood red and put a swastika, or some such derivative, on the front, and lots of people will go for this -- me included. After reading it I feel let-down.

I've given this "What if" book just one star because while the opening premise is wonderful, the setting is great, and a lot of the initial political set-up for the situation we find ourselves in as the novel starts has been well thought-out -- it just doesn't work at all. I had to force myself to finish the book.

The author is an ex- Times journalist who has done a lot of historical research. Despite this, there are a few schoolboy howlers in the book. For instance he has a ceremonial flypast of RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires in 1937 -- well before either aircraft flew operationally. However whilst irritating they don't really alter the novel itself.

No, this novel really comes unstuck in two main ways:

The first is in its chracterisation. This is rather dreadful. The characters are two-dimensional, and their actions are in some cases simply too unbelievable. A large number of them are real historical characters -- not long dead. It can be difficult to make real people, whom many readers will remember, do things that never happened -- but while Robert Harris does it well -- it is very definitely not done well here.

The second area of major failure is in plotting and pace. There is no thrill in this thriller. Quite simply you are never on edge wondering what will happen next.

This is the author's second novel -- he has some great ideas -- but they are not yet being translated well enough to the page. Having read other reviews on this page, I see some other people liked it. I didn't, sorry.

If you want "What if" books that deal with the Nazis either invading or taking over Britain, then these books are all much better.

Fatherland, Robert Harris Fatherland
Invasion, Kenneth Macksey Invasion: Alternative History of the German Invasion of England, July 1940 (Greenhill Military Paperback)
Operation Sea Lion, Richard Cox Operation Sea Lion
If Britain had fallen, Norman Longmate If Britain Had Fallen
SS GB, Len Deighton SS-GB

There are also useful chapters in the following books:

What If? What If?: Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been
What If 2? What If? II: 2
The Hitler Options, ed Kenneth Macksey The Hitler Options: Alternate Decisions of World War II (Greenhill Military Paperback)
Third Reich Victorious, ed Peter Tsouras Third Reich Victorious: Alternative Decisions of World War II: Alternate Decisions of World War II
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on 21 June 2014
If you're interested in Britain during the second world war and the BUF/blackshirts then this is a good read. Can't take much of it seriously though. I didn't think Mosley was the psychopath described in this book, he modelled his views more on Italian fascism than German Nazism and not sure that most of the British public were aware of the murderous concentration camps in 1937? Nevertheless a good bit of light reading about Britain under a rather nasty totalitarian regime. Good cover too!
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on 5 July 2004
Rarely are books written like this any more, The Leader by Guy Waletrs heavily resembles one of those short stories written for Boys Own type annuals and is none the worse for this. The setting to the book is quite convincing (notably Mosely's rise to power, Churchill was in reality only persuaded against forming a Kings Party at the last minuite) but more importantly (and some previous reviewers have overlooked this) it was entertaining and gave the book a real sense of urgency, it is rare in these post modern times to have a real goody to root for versus a defined baddy. The novel was written in a delightfully old fashioned style with the vile Facists versus the plucky War heroes of WWI and whilst some seem to have found this offensive I found it delightfully nostalgic. I have read this book in 3 days unable to put it down and i shall certainly be buying Guy Walters other book The Traitor.
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on 2 December 2014
This is a reasonable novel which postulates what would happen if Oswald Moseley had taken over Britain. It mostly covers one mans struggle to overcome the regime whilst battling other unknown Communist forces. It doesn't have a particularly exciting plot but the characterisations are good and to be fair its not clear until the end which way the plot will go. That made me want to finish the book at least.
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on 7 November 2003
This is Guy's second novel and equally as good as the first (The Traitor) if not better.
It's set in 1937 and Fascism has taken hold in Britain. Oswald Mosley is the Prime Minister (The Leader) and Edward VIII is about to be crowned King with Wallis as his Queen. Hitler and Mussolini are allies; Churchill, Chamberlain et al are imprisoned.
James Armstrong, who was a member of the Tory government before Mosley came to power, decides he has had enough of the Fascist regime and strikes back.
It's a great book, riveting, full of action and really puts you back in 30's England.
Well worth reading.
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on 3 December 2003
I ordered this book having enjoyed Walters' first novel 'The Traitor'. Whilst awaiting its arrival I read the review by a 'reader in Glasgow' below and was slightly worried that there might be a drop-off in quality in the new book. However this was not the case and I sped through the book in a couple of days. It is hard to get a 'What-if' romp wrong, and Walters' story is genuinely entertaining and well researched. Oswald Mosley's Fascist movement and the Fascist sympathies that were rife in the aristocracy of Britain before the Second World War are portrayed reaching their inevitable conclusion with, at times, blood-chilling effect. Walters continues in this book (as he did in 'The Traitor') the theme of what it means to be a patriot. Perfect holiday reading - informative, fast moving, at times disturbing, but most of all, fun.
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on 12 January 2014
Liked the concept of this but the reality was all a bit silly and was a bit of a boy's own romp. The preceding Guy Walters book was better.
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on 29 March 2004
I read Walters' first book when he was being touted as the next robert Harris and enjoyed it. But in this book about Britain under a fascist Prime Minister (hence the title) he really gets into his stride. Gripping, packed with detail and not just one for war junkies. Gave a copy to my bro for his birthday, too, and he's well stuck-in.
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on 27 April 2004
Having read a number of other "what if?" books on a similar theme I waslooking forward to this book.
Dissapointment doesn't cut it, the story line is farcical the charactersare wooden and unbelievable. At first I thought an attempt was being madeto write the story in a 1930s "Boys Own" style but I quickly realised thatthis was not the case it was just an immature style of writing.
I wish I could tell you the ending because it is a farce to end all farcesbut of course that wouldn't be very nice.
Buy this book if you will but never ever say you haven't been warned.
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