by Robert Conroy
Cover Artist: Kurt Milller
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451637618
Date: 06 December 2011 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
When a bomber zigs instead of zags, the course of World War II is altered. Lieutenant Paul Phips is new to war. He breaks standard operating procedure by running from a pair of ME 109's. When he and his crew finally shake the German planes, they are a long way from home. They decide to drop the bombs on the first available target. Unknown to the crew, the target ends up being the Wolf's Lair in Rastenburg, Prussia, the day that Operation Valkyrie was planned to initiate. The bombs drop, and Hitler dies. The quick actions of Colonel Ernst Varner upon discovering the Fuhrer's death prevents the start of the planned takeover. This gives Himmler the opportunity to consolidate power and push his rivals to the side.
The death of Hitler changes the course of the war as Himmler ends the stand off at all cost, orders that caused the loss of so many troops. Additionally, Himmler orders the pursuit of new technology and the redistribution of assets. Those are the least of the changes.
The rest of the world must decide how this change will affect their actions. Hitler's death takes away a lot of the focus of the allied forces. Stalin sees a chance to advance his cause and takes it. The U.S. faces the loss of allies as chaos grows in France and England wearies of war. The chaos creates a chance that Nazi Germany can survive. In the end the world will be a very different place than the one we live in today.
This is a standalone novel. A little knowledge of the history of the end of WWII would be helpful. Earlier I described the main series of events that lead to the point of departure. It took me a little while to put together the POD setting, and by knowing the background, readers should be able to dive right in without confusion.
The story unfolds through the perspectives of several characters. This seems to be the new standard for most alternate histories. The good thing is that Conroy gives some macro perspectives by looking through the eyes of several major historical figures. These perspectives help readers see outside the bubbles of the main lower level characters.
Readers who have enjoyed Turtledove's War that Came Early series, Conroy's own Red Inferno: 1945, and Stoney Compton's Russian Amerika Series will surely like Himmler's War as well.
This is Conroy's best novel to date. He continually steps up his game with each new novel. I can't wait for his next novel, especially if he continues to get better.