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The Foresight War Paperback – 19 Nov 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: New Generation Publishing; First Edition edition (19 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755201566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755201563
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 596,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Anthony G Williams has a particular interest in the history and development of machine guns, and their ammunition. He is the author Rapid Fire, Assault Rifle [with Maxim Popenker] and the Flying Guns trilogy [with Dr Emmanuel Gustin], which describes the development of aircraft guns, ammunition and installations from 1914 to the present day. He maintains a website at www.quarry.nildram.co.uk.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

He woke, and instantly wished that he hadn't. The throbbing
headache which consumed him seemed to extend beyond his head into every
part of his body. He began to moan, but stopped abruptly as the ache
intensified. He lay unmoving, gritting his teeth, enduring in silent
desperation.
After an indeterminate period, the pain subsided enough to risk an attempt
at coherent thought. What on earth had he done last night? He was not a
heavy drinker, and besides, the worst hangover he could recall was a pale
shadow of this suffering. Had he been in an accident? Fallen ill? He
gingerly searched his memory, but could find nothing to account for such
appalling agony. The pain gradually dimmed further. Slowly, he opened his
eyes to the dull light of early morning.

He was lying on his back, staring at a ceiling. The ceiling was plain,
with an old-fashioned frilly lampshade surrounding the single bulb. The
lampshade stayed steady and his head remained intact. Adventurously, he
turned his head sideways and immediately shut his eyes to ward off the
surge of nausea. Time passed. Slowly, he opened his eyes again. No
reaction. He took stock of what he could see.

The wallpaper was dull and also old-fashioned. So was the varnished wooden
door and the brown Bakelite light switch next to it. Puzzlement began to
grow. He was certainly not in his bedroom, nor in anyone else's that he
recognised. Curiosity overcoming the gradually receding pain, he raised
his head. A thin, brass curtain rail, suspending thin, drab curtains,
framed a sash window. A further effort brought a pair of discoloured brass
taps into view, followed by a porcelain washbasin on a metal stand, framed
and partly obscured by the foot of a brass bedstead. A pair of brown
leather shoes completed his field of view. He wiggled his feet and the
shoes moved in sympathy. Turning his head to the other side, he saw a
large wardrobe in dark wood. There was nothing else in the room, apart
from a wooden chair on which sat his holdall.

Experimentally he tried moving his legs. They obeyed orders promptly. The
pain was fading rapidly now, and he swung his legs over the side of the bed
with more confidence. Slowly sitting upright, he took stock.
He appeared to be uninjured, and although weak and shaky, did not feel ill.
He was fully dressed, still possessed a full wallet and his keys, and he
confirmed (after a careful stretch to the chair) that his holdall retained
its usual contents. Not a robbery, then. A careful shuffle to the end of
the bed gave him a limited view of rooftops with a larger structure some
distance beyond. At first, the rooftops caught his attention. There was
something odd about them. The wisps of smoke rising from the chimneys was
an unusual sight, but he suddenly realised that what puzzled him wasn't
anything he could see, but something he couldn't see: there were no
aerials; not a satellite dish, not even the most humble antenna.

Something else nagged at him. He looked at the structure in the distance.
It appeared to be an enormous, barrel-roofed greenhouse with towers at each
end. He stared at it blankly, until he gradually realised that his memory
was telling him what it was, but his mind was refusing to accept the data.
He was looking at the Crystal Palace.
For a long time he sat unmoving, his mind jammed by the utter impossibility
of the evidence of his eyes. Slowly, his thoughts unfroze. He could not
deny what he was seeing: the pride of the Great Exhibition of 1851, moved
from Hyde Park to a permanent home at Sydenham Hill, destroyed by fire in
the 1930s.

Destroyed by fire in the 1930s - nearly seventy years ago! His mind locked
again and he fought desperately to regain some equilibrium. He tried to
think logically, to build on small steps. How did he know this was the
Crystal Palace? Because he had seen pictures a hundred times, there was
nothing of this size remotely like it. How did he know when it was
destroyed? Because he was a historian, it was his business to know. So
which year did he think he was in? 2004, at the end of the summer. How
did he know that? Because he was a lecturer at London University,
preparing for the next academic year. Knowledge flooded back into him as
if a dam had burst.
His name was Don, Dr Don Erlang. He repeated this out loud, to make sure
it sounded right. The sound of his own voice in the quiet room startled
him. He was forty years old, divorced five years ago, living alone in a
flat in Kennington. He couldn't possibly be seeing the view out of the
window, and as he never took hallucinogens he must be experiencing an
extremely vivid dream. Feeling very self-conscious, he pinched himself
hard. It hurt. The Crystal Palace floated serene and unperturbed in the
distance. He tottered to the washbasin, poured some cold water, splashed
it into his face, then looked up. Still there. This close to the window,
he could see more.
The street was cobbled; near by was a junction with a larger road. Ancient
cars crossed the narrow field of view. A couple pushed a pram across the
junction, the woman in a long dress and coat, the man wearing a trilby.
The pram had huge overlapping wheels. His mind dived for cover again and
he forced it to work with an effort of will. There had to be a rational
explanation.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I know it's a cliche, but it's true. I have missed two deadlines for a work project because of this book!

Absolutely fascinating. Well researched and fairly well written. It's obvious that this is Williams' first fictional work because the character development is so weak. However, the historical timeline is unfurled at such a pace that one hardly has time to notice.

One reviewer felt that it was unfair that the German time traveller was constrained by his morality. In fact the storyline adequately covers the problems of conscience Professor Hermann faces, and it seems inconceivable that any sane person from our time could go back and voluntarily help the Nazis win the war.

Some reviewers have mentioned they felt the book could have been longer. My feeling is it's a good job it isn't - I need my life back! Seriously, I agree that the book could have been longer. There would have been many opportunities for the author to pad the text with accounts of specific events. But I think the result would have been less entertaining, and in danger of becoming turgid. I do see the opportunity for Williams to repeat this formula for other conflicts and political events of the century. If he does that, I would urge him to have future work professionally proof read. There are a number of typos and errors in the text.

If you read and loved Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising", then you absolutely must read this book.
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Format: Paperback
I'm a fan of alternate history books and with the exception of a couple of flaws at the beginning and end, this was a very good read. It is fast-paced with a mix of historical and fictional figures, technology appearing early (e.g. jets) and has a familiar if somewhat different path that WWII follows.

This would have deserved 5 stars if:

- We knew how and why the time travellers arrived when and where they did. Why no similar travellers arriving in Italy, Russia, France or the USA?

- The ending didn't appear rushed, leaving some story threads unresolved such as the war in the Pacific.
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...and no bad thing! I enjoyed this, its a densely-packed fast-paced novel that charts on the progress of an alternate WWII where both Britain and Germany get the chance to correct some of their 'mistakes' in advance. It's a little short on characterisation, but this isn't suprising given the ground it has to cover.

How much you will ultimately enjoy The Foresight War will probably depend on how much you agree with the author's conclusions; I think most of his views are sound (certainly the behaviour of the Nazi leadership), although ironically, given the author's area of expertise, I'm a bit dubious about some of the the technical assets at Britain's disposal; (*spoiler* the helicopters and tank carrying hovercraft were very cool, but in the real world neither vehicle was really useful until powerful gas turbine engines were available; I don't think piston engined versions would have been up to it). Finally, the ending felt a little rushed, and a couple of major plot points (nuclear weapons and the fate of Japan) were left unresolved; unless of course the author is planning a sequel...
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Format: Paperback
This book is a real page turner. It focuses on what happens when a historian - Don Erlang- is somehow transported back in time to 1934. Erlang simply decides to accept what has happened and sets out to ensure that Britain is better prepared for World War Two.Having convinced the powers-that-be that he is a time -traveller, Erlang draws attention to the need to deal with the weaknesses in Britain's armed forces, such as the lack of a powerful carrier force and poorly equipped amoured units.His advice is taken on board but then intelligence soures provide evidence that the Nazis are being helped by a time traveller as well;hence the foresight war.
The great thing about this book is that is one which places Britain at the centre of events and ,therefore, is must read for British readers who enjoy reading alternative histories. It is also well written,unlike a lot of the works produced by Harry Turtledove.
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This is not alternative history as such since it involves the improbable intervention of time travellers!
It may been done before (done well by Turtledove in 'Guns of The South' - why can't he write more like that - and done badly by Birmingham in 'Axis of Time') but this is a good example.
It's not over-dramatic but it has a great deal of action and suspense. The battle scenes are very well written - not at a detailed blood-and-guts level - but as military historical narrative.
It was also refreshing to have a book written from a UK perspective rather than American.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I liked this book, it was very readable and the action starts early on. It contains lots of interesting ideas about how things could have turned out differently. It was in the genre of 'boys toys' ie lots about weapons rather than a serious debate on the causes of history. If I was to be critical it doesn't explain how the time travellers got to 1934 from 2004, none of the characters are well developed and it ends quite abruptly but if you like the idea of Britain entering WWII well prepared then this isn't a bad read to take on holiday.
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