Top critical review
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Some good ideas but a missed opportunity
on 22 January 2012
I have enjoyed many of Conroy's works and was looking forward to this one, but for those who read his last one - 1945 Red Inferno with the Western Allies going to war with Stalin's Soviet Union, you will find this one similar with the Americans holding centre stage and the British and French relegated to limited supporting roles in the war. I dont remember the others - Poles, Canadians, Dutch, Belgians, Czechs, New Zealanders, Indians, South Africans, etc being mentioned at all sadly.
SPOILER ALERT -
A great concept overall, that Hitler is killed in June 1944 and Himmler takes control and in this story makes more rational decisions about the deployment of the Army letting the actual Generals fight the war- for example abandoning Norway, Italy and the Courland peninsula so as to straighten and strengthen the main defence lines. A truce with USSR seemed feasible in this story.
However what is annoying is many mistakes like saying the British 1st Airborne dropped in to Normandy when it was the 6th, many typos but worst of all I felt was showing how the British were clamouring for peace and an end to the war just because Hitler was dead, and with the French divided again (in this story and in the last one) between De Gaulle supporters and Communists the Americans are the main backbone and advocate to continue the war against Nazi Germany! I found this very hard to accept since historically the Americans only joined the war in 1941 after they were attacked by the Japanese and then Hitlers declaration of war on them yet now they and not the British who had been fighting since 1939 want to fight on, and as I said above seem to do all the work.
The inclusion of a German Nuclear weapon team was interesting and key to the plot for a while but not based on reality. History tells us that the Germans were decades behind the Western Allies especially as they had forced/scared off many key German Jewish scientists.
I felt too that could have been more actual battle scenes and fighting. We do get some and glimpses of others but its mainly conversations and some unusual sex scenes thrown in.
Better than many of Turtledove's efforts however but not as good as the great S M Stirling's books.
I would recommend two other great similar stories - Colin Gee's Red Gambit series and Seelowe Nord by Andy Johnson. The Germans invade England in 1940 but on the Yorkshire coast flanking the main defences in south east England, both very interesting and entertaining and much better than Himmlers war.
So, a good idea with some good moments but a missed chance again from a writer who constantly returns to the theme that the Americans won World War 2 by themselves in the alternative worlds, and probably in history too. A bit disappointing overall.