LAST ORDERS by Harry Turtledove


From the "War That Came Early" series
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Turtledove (Two Fronts, 2013, etc.) delivers the final installment—and there’s room for a maybe in there—of his series developing an alternate-history version of World War II. Without aliens interfering.

From our perspective 70 years later, we're accustomed to thinking of WWII’s outcome as being inevitable. Not so, says Turtledove. What if, for instance, the Spanish Civil War had dragged on? Imagine, then, a 1943 where fascist Nationalists backed by Nazi Germany wage trench warfare against Republican communists assisted by independently operating Americans and Europeans. Further suppose that in 1938, when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, Britain and France had allied themselves with Nazi Germany to battle the communist Soviet Union. By 1943, however, following an anti-fascist coup, Britain and France now face Germany across a western front entrenched in Belgium, while in the east, the Soviets push the Germans back inch by bloody inch. Avoiding European entanglement, the U.S. tussles with Japan in the Pacific, where, after a quite different Battle of Midway, American paratroopers find themselves stranded, forbidden to leave the island due to Japan’s active biological warfare campaign. In Münster, a churchman protests against Nazi treatment of defectives (though not Jews), prompting skeptical, war-weary Germans to revolt against the hated blackshirt overlords. The action switches among frontline soldiers and airmen on the European western and eastern fronts, the mid-Pacific, civilian Americans and German Jews, Ukrainian partisans and Czech snipers, German tank and submarine crews, and a gratuitous cameo from Albert Einstein. Disdaining broad brush strokes, Turtledove’s focus on the characters serves to fill out the big picture with patient, nitty-gritty detail. It’s all quite plausible, sure, and armchair warriors will have much to ponder.

Some readers may find the conclusion messy and unsatisfying, but that’s part of Turtledove’s argument: War often is.

Pub Date: July 15th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-345-52471-3
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2014


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