Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Book Review – The War That Came Early 03 – The Big Switch by Harry Turtledove

The War That Came Early 03 – The Big Switch
Harry Turtledove
Genre: Alternative History
Publisher: Del Rey
Trade Paperback
418 Pages
Publication Date: July 19th, 2011
ARC Trade Paperback Uncorrected Proof
ISBN-13: 978-0345491862


How does he do it? Harry Turtledove, the foremost alternate history writer in the world, maintains an instinctive ability to write grand, sweeping novels incorporating larger-than-life historic events such as World War II (albeit alternate and unconventional views of the same) while still managing to compress it into the emotions, daily events, and actions of the least, common man. Master storyteller Harry Turtledove begins this series with an interesting “what if” premise and follows it through to its logical conclusion. “What if U. K. Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, instead of placating Hitler, had defied him by not signing the Munich Agreement in 1938?”

No other author working in the field of speculative fiction today has such an accomplished grasp of narrating the all-encompassing alternate big picture while still retaining the ability to drill down to and explain all the fears, the uncommon bravery, and the irrational behavior of the common soldier, no matter what his nationality or which country he fights for. Mr. Turtledove entwines the alternate world-view with the human condition and continues to hold our attention throughout. And few, if any, can include so many characters in such an extensive, world-wide saga and still manage to draw them all back together. In fact, there are so many characters here that I found it hard to connect with some of them. While all were intriguing some of their stories were less interesting (and satisfying to me) than others, which may be the worst thing I can say about the book.

So, here’s the thing, why I think The War That Came Early is an exceptional work of alternate fiction. If you are not extremely familiar with World War II history you’ll be convinced that things happened exactly as Mr. Turtledove chronicles in The Big Switch. That’s because the stories are stimulating, fascinating, and entirely credible works of alternate history which tend to show how minor changes in the action or inaction by prominent players (and sometimes totally improbable characters) can cause huge changes in historic events. Mr. Turtledove accomplishes this better than anyone else in the genre and tells a great story in the process.

Recommended for history buffs, military strategists, alternate historians, and fans of sprawling, blood-and-guts war fiction.

Review copy provided free as part of the LibraryThing.com Early Reader program.

4 stars out of 5

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

The War That Came Early by Harry Turtledove
1. Hitler's War (2009) 4 stars out of 5
2. West and East (2010) 4 stars out of 5
3. The Big Switch (2011) 4 stars out of 5


Additional Reading:

Harry Turtledove Wiki

Random House Page

Harry Turtledove Website

Harry Turtledove Baen Webscription Page

Tor.com Turtledove Page


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