The War That Came Early: Coup d'Etat
by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: Mike Bryan
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345524652
Date: 31 July 2012 List Price $28.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The French and English have switched sides and the war takes different tack. English and French troops are now in the East fighting Stalin's troops. The U.S. is now at war with Japan, whose war with the Soviets is now over. Spain is now the forgotten war, with supplies drying up for both sides. Hitler has not declared war on the U.S., and there is no support for involvement in Europe.
The surviving perspectives continue in this fourth installment of The War That Came Early.
Pete McGill is an American marine in the Pacific theater. He is stationed aboard the Boise, a light cruiser. His POV details the retreats and advances of the American Fleet. They have been battered by the Japanese but are not out of it yet. They only have to hold long enough for war time production to ramp up.
Peggy Druce is home in Philadelphia, but not all is happy. Her time away created a wall between her and her husband. She starts to give speeches in support of the war, and helps to sell war bonds.
Sarah Goldman is a Jew in Munster, Germany. The Nazi regime is making it as difficult as possible for Jews. But if they jump through enough hoops, sometimes they can still live a little, and that is just what Sarah and Isidor Bruck intend to do.
Theo Hossbach is a Panzer crewman on the Eastern Front. His crew continues to man an outdated Panzer II. They see firsthand the arrival of the newest Soviet tank, the T-34. Additionally, Theo must protect his friend, a hidden Jew, Adi.
Alistair Walsh is now an English civilian, having left the army because he could not fight beside the Naziís. He has made friends with many of the leaders of the opposition party. The opposition wants to end the new alliance, by any means necessary. His new friends, will cause him to go to jail and to a place he never intended to go.
Hans-Ulrich Rudel is a Stuka pilot, now on the Eastern Front. Air power is limited by the ability to take off and land. On the Eastern Front, no-fly time is longer than you might think. When grounded, Rudel likes to go visit his half-Jewish girlfriend in Poland.
Ivan Kuchkov makes a big switch of his own. He ends up in the army after bailing out of his bomber. It will be a long time before the bureaucracy figures out where he is and should be, so it is easiest just to go along. He sees the retreat towards Moscow.
Vaclav Jezek, a Czech patriot, is now fighting in Spain. He continues to put his anti-tank gun to use as a sniper. He consistently kills Nationalist officers. By the end he will make a big kill.
Luc Harcourt is a French soldier now fighting in Russia. He is not happy, but does his job. He provides the perspective of the common soldier.
Willi Dernen is a common German trooper. His greatest tormentor is his Sergeant, Awful Arno. He continues to slog forward on the Eastern Front. He details the concern of the reliability of the new English and French Allies.
Chaim Weinberg got everything he could wish for in life. He is married to La Martellita and has a child on the way. But everything is not kosher in Spain. His marriage is only to give his child a name. His wife barely tolerates him, and the war is slowly pushing out from Madrid.
Anastas Mouradian is a Russian pilot. As a pilot he faces the same problem with soggy ground. Even when you are well back from the front, you aren't safe in Stalin's realm. One wrong word, and off to the Gulag.
Julius Lemp is still in command of his U-30 despite his early mistake. He now patrols in the Baltic. His greatest problem is the port where he is often forced to use for resupply. It doesnít have the relaxation facilities of other ports, and his crew isnít happy about it.
Sergeant Hideki Fujita is at the prison camp. When American marines arrive, his life gets difficult. So difficult he wants out. But he ends up going someplace completely different.
Although this novel spans a year, it never really seems like much happens. In truth, a lot does happen, it just doesnít always feel that way. Part of it is that there are so many POV's that changes are incremental. Also, a lot of action happens off screen. This is very similar to what happened in John Birminghamís Axis of Time trilogy between the second and third books. But it also felt a little like the shuffling that happens before something huge. All the pieces need to be in place.
There isnít a major thinning of characters. At least one POV character will die, and as usual, one will be left hanging in jeopardy at the end. As the fourth book in a series, this isnít the best starting point for readers new to the series. There are plenty of reminders of prior events throughout to remind long time readers of the timeline.
I wasnít a hundred percent satisfied with Coup DíEtat. It wasn't any one thing I can detail, but just a general acknowledgement that something was missing for me. This doesnít mean that readers should avoid this book; it just means that others in the series are better. I still look forward to the next book in the series.