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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Big Switch by Harry Turtledove

Genre: Alternate History

Setting: An alternate version of World War II, in 1940 and 1941.

First Sentence: Vaclav Jezek slogged up a dirt track in Eastern France.

This novel is the third in Turtledove's War That Came Early series.  This series currently runs to six novels.

The point of departure from our timeline is 1938.  What if English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain stood up to Hitler rather than attempting to appease him?  In the author's view, the war would have begun early, and the European nations would have been unprepared for the ensuing war.

Midway through this novel the author gives us another important shift from our timeline.  In 1941, German official Rudolph Hess flew solo to Scotland in an attempt negotiate a peace between England and Germany.

What if the English government accepted his proposal?

This is the big switch referred to in the title of this novel.  In the middle of the war England and France broker a peace with Germany.  Then they ally themselves with Germany to fight the Russians on the eastern front.

In this novel Turtledove uses his usual style of story telling.  We follow a group of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and non-combatants.  The author relates different episodes in each character's life.  Through their eyes we see how the was has impacted them.  Rather than getting the big picture view of the war from the point of the generals and other leaders, we experience the "boots on the ground" view of the war from those on the front lines.

For me, this was an OK read.  Keeping track of the characters was a challenge.  I wish the author had included a dramatis personae to aid the reader in keeping track of the characters.

If you are interested in this novel, I suggest that you read them in order.


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