tyskaorden skrev:Turtledove har varit i farten igen och börjat en ny serie där andra världskriget utbryter 1938 i stället för 1939. Den första delen heter Hitler's War. Causus Belli är mordet på sudettyskarnas ledare Konrad Henlein. Turtledov har också med spanska inbördeskriget men nationalisterna leds inte av Franco utan general José Sanjurjo (vilken i verkligheten omkom i en flygolycka innan han han ta befälet). I Asien förekommer spänningar mellan Japan och Mongoliet, det senare uppbackat av Sovjetunionen.
Jag har läst säkert minst 25 av Turtledoves böcker, så jag är väl bekant med hans produktion. ""Hitler's War" var lite av en besvikelse. Om ni ursäktar bruket av utrikiska, så är här en recension jag skrev efter att ha läst boken.
Harry Turtledove, 2009
For many years, Harry Turtledove has been touted as the master of alternate history. At least, the blurbs on his book says so. Unfortunately, in the case of "Hitler's War", they refer to his earlier work. I've read and enjoyed many of his books (even as far back as when he wrote as "Eric Iverson"), but this one was a bit of a let-down. The first in what appears to be a new series ("The War That Came Early", next part out this summer), "Hitler's War" has all the hallmarks of Turledove's style – both good and bad. As in most of his earlier books, history has been puttering along as we know it, when something happens that changes the course for good. In the case of this story, which starts out in 1938, the Spanish Civil War is raging and the Munich meeting about the fate of Czechoslovakia is about to be held. Two unrelated things throws the switches of history; in Spain, the Republican General Sanjurjo isn't killed in a plane crash, which means that General Franco is relegated to a secondary role. In Germany, a Czech assassin kills the Sudeten German leader Henlein, which scraps the Munich talks, and gives Hitler a cause for a full-out invasion of Czechoslovakia, instead of having the country served to him on a platter. What happens next is a mix of the familiar and the new. Great Britain and France declare war on Germany, with the French army making a token attack on Germany. Germany attacks Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France, sealing off the BEF from the Channel ports. The Soviet Union attacks Poland, which aligns itself with Germany. In China, Japan is about to attack the USSR. Meanwhile, an American tourist and a German-Jewish family are stuck in the middle of the conflict.
Turtledove's familiar style is in full swing, with his use of at least 14 different characters. Or not-so-different, unfortunately: several of them are soldiers who complain about cheap tobacco and who do some fighting, but with little more than their names and nationalities to set them apart. Add to this four or five "supporting cast" characters for each of them, and we have a cast of if not thousands, but then at least close to a hundred. Readers familiar with Turtledove's style will recognise the constant repetition of details and character quirks, as if the reader couldn't be trusted to remember things from one chapter to another. Well, he falls in the same trap here, but to a lesser extent than in his other books. Still, it is a bit annoying. The characters are rather two-dimensional and wooden; there was almost no one I took a liking to. A few could've been cut out of the story with no loss to the flow, and introduced in the next book instead. Some of the main characters are based on real people; I spotted Hans-Ulrich Rudel and Julius Lemp, Stuka and U-boat aces, respectively.
Written almost entirely from the perspective of people on the ground (figuratively, at least), the reader will have a hard time trying to sort out what really happens on a larger scale. A coup against Hitler is hinted at, but not explained. The overall strategic situation has to be read between the lines. When the strategic situation in France changes by the end of the book, the reader has no real grasp on why it does. Unless the reader is familiar with the state of the Wehrmacht in the early part of the (real) war, it is easy to miss that the Germans are suffering from "Totsiegen" (being "victored" to death), with battlefield attrition of men and materiel. Unlike Turtledove's series of books on the alternate history of the USA and CSA, we get next to no insight in the considerations of politicians and generals. What remains is a string of battlefield vignettes playing out during late 1938 and early 1939, but which could just as well been placed in the "real history" of 1939-40. Not bad, but we've read it before.
Turtledove is usually very good on research, but there are a few bloopers that could've been avoided. He refers to "Waffen-SS", when the armed branch of the SS was known as "SS-Verfügungstruppen" in 1938, not changing the name until 1940. He refers to SS (RSHA?) as "blackshirts", when that was a name used for Mussolini's Fascists. A couple of months into the war, German civilians are feeling the pinch, and it seems like their clothes hava become instantly threadbare, and the shops emptied in no time at all. He has grasped that the Wehrmacht of 1938 lacked the punch to deliver the knock-out blows of 1940, but the Blitzkrieg style of warfare works without a hitch, despite being more or less improvised in the real world (like the air-to-ground liason) during the attack on Poland in 1939. There are some minor technical mistakes, but Turtledove is still better than even some non-fiction writers.
One piece of really bad writing that stands out is Hitler's visit to the front, where he starts to rant in front of a Panzer crew, and with SS henchmen yearning to make the hapless audience "disappear". It was like a scene from bad movie, something that ended up on the cutting room floor when Tarantino edited "Inglorious Basterds". It was really hard to believe that it was the same author who gives subtle hints to other writers and books, like when the fighting in France takes place at Coucy-le-Chateau (a nod at Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror"), or when one of the characters in Spain passes a British volunteer (George Orwell).
All in all, I expected more from Turtledove. Perhaps he is suffering from a case of "Totsiegen", too... I'll take a close look at the reviews of the next part, "West & East", before deciding whether to buy it. When one knows how good Turtledove can be, "Hitler's War" cannot be placed in the upper half of his production. To sum it up, one can use a "Turtledove-ism": it wasn't all bad, but it could've been a lot better.