Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Book Review: In the Presence of Mine Enemies

In the Presence of Mine Enemies is an alternate history novel by Harry Turtledove set in the year 2010. The world can be divided into three parts: the Greater German Reich, its client states, and the Japanese Empire. Neither Japan nor Germany provoked the US into World War II, but Japan did gain control over most of Asia, and Germany (and its junior partner Italy) conquered all of Europe. Twenty years later, the two launched a surprise nuclear war against the United States, killing 1/3 of the population and subjecting it to German occupation. A crushed America is now kept impoverished by a staggering annual tribute.

Hitler's dream was realized: the whole world was made Judenfrei. Gypsies, homosexuals, and other undesirables were also wiped out. Those Slavs who were kept alive were either pushed far beyond the Urals or turned into disposable slave labor. One of the peace conditions forced on the US was the extermination of that nation's Jewish and Black populations.

But although the novel mentions America occasionally, it is mostly set in Berlin, and focused around Wehrmacht supply officer Heinrich Gimpel and his family. They carry with them a terrible secret: they are Jews. But eventually the Reichs Genealogical Office catches up with them, all while a new Fuhrer takes office, calling for the unspeakable: reform.

This book was received poor reviews, most likely because of the absence of stirring combat scenes. Unlike other Turtledove novels, it is not military fiction. It's solid, imaginative, but realistic alternative history focused on family life in a future Nazi Germany.


Tom Jackson said...

IIRC, he's been doing alternative fiction for a long time; see, e.g. "Guns of the South," in which the Confederate army is somehow supplied with AK-47s.

John said...

By time-travelling South African white supremacists.

Richard said...

I like alternate history, but not when it projects too far. Now that the topic has been brought up, are there any other novels in which the Nazis win WWII which are a little more contemporary to that time?

The Bass Player's Wife said...

OOo... I think I have solved the problem of what to read on my plane ride next weekend. Thanks!

I have been too long buried in textbooks and work reading, it is time for some good escapism.

Purple Avenger said...

This plot is a blatant rip-off of the Islamist agenda. I'm deeply offended ;->

Keith McIlwain said...

I loved his "Guns of the South" novel.