In 1938, two men held history in their hands. One was Adolf Hitler. The other was British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who, determined to avoid war at any cost, came to be known as "the great appeaser". But Harry Turtledove, the unrivaled master of alternate history, has launched a gripping saga that springboards from a different fateful act: What if Chamberlain had stood up to Hitler? What would the Nazis' next move have been? And how would the war---which Hitler had always regretted waiting 11 months to start---have unfolded and changed our world?
Here, Turtledove takes us across a panorama of conflict fueled by ideology and demagoguery. Nations are pitted against nations, alliances are forged between old enemies, ordinary men and women are hurled into extraordinary life-and-death situations.
In Japanese-controlled Singapore, an American marine falls in love with a Russian dance-hall hostess, while around him are heard the first explosions of Chinese guerilla resistance. On the frontlines of war-ravaged rural France, a weary soldier perfects the art of using an enormous anti-tank gun as a sniper's tool---while from Germany a killer is sent to hunt him down. And in the icy North Atlantic, a U-boat bearing an experimental device wreaks havoc on British shipping, setting the stage for a Nazi ground invasion of Denmark.
From an American woman trapped in Germany who receives safe passage from Hitler himself to a Jewish family steeped in German culture and facing the hatred rising around them, from Japanese soldiers on the remote edge of Siberia to American volunteers in Spain, The War That Came Early: West and East is the story of a world held hostage by tyrants - Stalin, Hitler, Sanjuro - each holding on to power through lies and terror, even in the face of treacherous plots from within.
©2010 HarryTurtledove (P)2010 Tantor
"And so it whirls on, the suspense building inexorably, thanks to two of Turtledove's gifts, in particular. One is for portraying so much of the action from the viewpoint of the grunts, or even civilians, who know little of what the Great Ones are up to until the consequences are all over them. The other proceeds from the first and is for envisioning WWII unraveling like an endless ball of yarn in the paws of an intelligent kitten. Keep reading or miss something exceedingly fine." (Booklist)
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"Alternate history and elegant story-telling"
Even if you don't hear stem-winder lectures (sermons) so often nowadays about the Munich betrayal of Czechoslovakia ("peace in our time" was never quite the same, even as a prayer), there are abstract arguments - Britain had only just begun to build modern fighters, would the German army command have taken action to dump Hitler, was the German build-up itself ready to fight, etc.
Harry Turtledove makes you forget whatever you thought you knew, including real WW II history, and his cast of seriously developed characters live a story where neither you nor they know how it will turn out, let alone details.
His trademark effortless mastery of details runs from the motor, armor and weapons on a panzer Mark 1 or Mark 2, or the early anti-tank weapons (think a .50 calibre machine gun pretending to be a rifle; and here I found the LAAW and 3.5 inch rocket frustrating ;-) through Jewish life in Hitler's Germany. He invents Czech soldiers who fought hard in their own country, and escaped to fight in France - imagine "Good Soldier Schweik' with the same character but with his own country and fighting to keep it.
I just finished the second volume, and will re-audit the first, because Turtledove's prose and imagination richly reward the second reading.
"Good, but not one his best"
Turtledove is never bad, but I wish that this one had been better. This volume was written to the usual Turtledove formula. If you don't know what that is, you have many hours of excellent reading ahead of you. However, this part of the tale is too much like the real history of World War II. Unlike Turtledove's long series based on a Confederate victory in the Civil War, none of the viewpoint characters is a political leader. As a result, the stories in this book are not so different from any WW II stories of ordinary people. The military positions are different, of course, but the day-to-day stories are about the same as those I heard from everyone in my parents' generation.
Don't let my whining put you off, though. Turtledove is still one of the best story-tellers around. I'd hoped for better. I'm just praising with faint damns.
"Alternate History Buffs, Be Warned..."
I love Harry turtledove's writing. Especially his alternate history work. If you haven't reAd, "How Few Remain," you're missing out on why alternative history as one of the best ways to understand actual history. He brings in a subtle, tiny change that ultimately changes the course of history in a dramatic way. We'll he's done it here in the work, and I'm pleased to say, it's intriguing and worth a review.
Harry's sometimes moved off alternate history for aliens, magic and alternate dimensions. Not bad, but frankly, this type of his work we're reviewing is where he SHINES.
Here's World War Two, one of my favorite times in history - So much so, I took college courses on the period. AND wrote a lengthy, in-depth work on Albert Speer, Hitler's architect. Why am I telling you this? Here's why - I know the time in which the author is writing. It contains HUGE events, twisting plots within plots in various governments, political deceptions, military lies, supreme sacrifices, countless losses, unsung heroes... the list goes on and on. AND. This was the first war that finally could be captured properly on photos, film, radio and QUICKLY, compared to previous wars. When it comes to World War Two, you can read a lifetime, and miss quite a bit. It's well documented, and so any alternate history effort can be truly scrutinized. It has to be researched to succeed.
Well, such is the case in this work. It's exceptional. It's a sit on the edge of your seat, waiting for the rest kind of audiobook, type listen. At least it was for me.
Here's British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, making a different decision based on simple turns of events, that change the timing and direction of Hitler's starting the war. Go read the synopsis, and maybe google the period. If you do, and you get this book, you'll agree that it reads like actual history, and in stirring fashion.
Again, I NEVER give away plots, favorite characters, nor events in my reviews. I consider that ruining the discovery, if you will, of the work. That's similar to telling you Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father before you read the "The Empire Strikes Back." I WILL however, give you an overview of the tone and where you'll head. Fair enough? Good . Let's move along, then.
As a reader, strap in, because you're going to be hearing the intertwining stories of leaders in different nations, in different governments, and making NEW decisions based on the accumulating changes, and it's worth the listen, to say the least. I said leaders, which can be politicians, soldiers, wives, pilots and more, but all having some impact on the storyline. From the "in the trenches" grit of the war, to the command centers that moved nations into battle, to the subterfuge often hidden in dank alleys and doorways, this audiobook takes you on a great journey. You don't have to be a history buff to enjoy this audiobook. This is action, history, and WHAT IF, all thrown together in one. You don't even have to LIKE history to enjoy this book. It makes you wonder what happens next, and makes you want more. That's what a good novel SHOULD do.
And. It's the first of four books in the series. I LOVE series, as you can tell from my reviews here at Audible. If I'm going to dedicate my listening time to an author's work, it should be more than just a few hours of enjoyment. Turtledove delivers in the War That Came Early. So much so, that I've already thrown down my hard-earned credits for the rest of the audiobooks in the series. If you know me, that says something huge about the author and his or her work.
It's my pleasure to recommend this audiobook to Audible's listeners.
Well done, Harry.
"War that came early"
I gave up after about seven hours. It was hard to follow a story line when the switch from one group story line to another happened so often. I love most of his work but this one was too hard for me to handle. Part of the problem might be the sound quality which was not up to the standards I am accustomed to from your audio.
"Not his best."
This story starts off messy, becomes a little interesting, has a glimpse of plot twist only to end up following the same path as WWII in fact. This story needed work and it feels like a draft of what could had been more fascinating. Perhaps rather than the soldiers point of view, the leaders actions might have been more interesting. Not happy Harry.
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