What if . . . the Third Reich had won WWII and, 50 years later, were still around, embracing Europe, allied with the USSR, and in a truce with the North American Union? It's still the same oppressive Third Reich, all its old horrors intact, but with endless underground movements bent on destroying it.
The author of this staggeringly detailed alternate-reality epic is an American scientist living in Germany, whose own family suffered in concentration camps and as slave laborers. The horrors Stroyar sees in her Third Reich arise from history, and her vision is colossal. Good German families have as many as eight children, and all 16-year-olds must serve for six years in the military, while offspring of the Reich’s subjugated peoples teach their own children to hate the Reich and to form underground movements. Meanwhile, the Germans routinely steal children to adopt or use as slaves. One such is Peter Halifax, born in England, who spends four years in prison before becoming a being sent to the Nazi family of Karl and Elspeth Vogel. His life as a subhuman house-slave fills the first third of the novel until, close to committing suicide, Peter flees the family, gets taken in by the Underground in the Carpathians, and afterward marries Zosia, a high officer and assassin for the Underground whose first husband has been murdered. Later, the couple, along with Zosia’s daughter Joanna, travel to America, from which Peter returns with secret information for the Underground. But he’s recaptured and shown a videotape of Joanna being tortured and killed, a tape the liplicking Führer himself wants to see. The experience leads to Peter’s great act of vengeance—but, as Winston Smith found with Big Brother, in spying activities, you can’t trust anyone, not even your wife or dead child.
Toweringly intelligent, with icy touches showing how all sides dehumanize to achieve their aims. Stylish, no, but a fierce picture of massive dystopian evil.