Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Man with the Iron Heart-Harry Turtledove

The Man with the Iron Heart
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey, Jul 2008, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345504340

In 1942 Reinhard Heydrich, the evil designer of the Holocaust, was assassinated in Czechoslovakia by a partisan who hated the Nazis. However, on an alternate earth, Heydrich survived the attempt on his life and received permission from Himmler to create a guerilla army to harass the allies into leaving Germany so the Reich can rebuild. During the next three years, he dropped out of sight and ammo vanished as Heydrich formed the German Freedom Front secretly.

On VE Day, just like Heydrich predicted, the government signed the declaration ending the war in defeat. However, hostilities were not over as Heydrich and his Freedom Front force began their campaign; their efforts killed thousands of occupying allied soldiers. When Mrs. Diana McGuire receives a call that her son died after VE Day, she started a movement that grew rapidly to bring the men home. Meanwhile German POWs are going to go on trial in a courthouse in Nuremburg charged with war crimes, but the facility is destroyed. The trials move to Frankfort, but a suicide bomber blows himself up with a radium bomb that makes the city uninhabitable. They turn to the Russian occupation next, but the guerillas again succeed in disrupting the trials. Germans do not consider the war lost and the allies fear the Nazis like a Phoenix will return to power to continue the fight.

What is happening in Iraq and occurred in Viet names transposed to late 1940s Germany in THE MAN WITH THE IRON HAND. The German people help the Freedom Front because they seek the removal of foreign occupiers from their soil. The treaty is a piece of paper that some ignore as being worthless (President Bush did so with the Nonproliferation treaty so is plausible); the tactics obvious while the allies ponder a surge of more troops and for how long or withdrawal. Heydrich is sinister and brilliant as he will do anything to force the occupation army to leave and return the Reich to power. This alternative historicals showcases Harry Turtledove at his thought provoking best as the question is how long does a surge (by definition temporary) remain in place and what happens afterward if conditions fall back?

Harriet Klausner