1942: A Novel
by Robert Conroy
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Ballantine Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345506078
Date: 24 February 2009 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
On December seventh 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The attack begins the same way in this novel. The point of departure is that a final wave is sent in that hits the fuel storage tanks. Without these fuel tanks Pearl Harbor is no longer able to function as a fleet depot. The Japanese military prodded by Admiral Yamamoto prepares for the invasion of Japan in early 1942. With the addition of the third wave, this timeline diverges from our own.
The U.S. Navy is on its' heels. Forced to abandon outlying posts like Midway, the possibility of defeating Japan, let alone slowing her seem more remote. The invasion of the Hawaiian Islands is a foregone conclusion, but leaves the General Staff in a quandary. The American Public is displeased with the current war operations. On top of everything else, FDR's health is waning with each new bad bit of news. The Japanese plan to annex the Hawaiian Islands, and the U.S. Military has a surprise that may change the course of the war.
On the face of it, this is another in a long line of alternate WWII stories. But it isn't just another retelling of the same tale. Although following a similar path as Harry Turtledove's Days Of Infamy and William Forstchen's and Newt Gingrich's Pearl Harbor, it takes a different approach to what brings about the an invasion. The third wave is once again the key.
I enjoyed this tale. I wasn't thrilled to read another story about the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the writing and fresh take on the tale drew me in and I found myself racing to finish. The characters aren't new, but they are pretty well developed. The one weakness may be how the American counter offensive plays out. I felt that the setup was a little too convenient. The outcome of WWII will not change in the future, but I do wonder if the use of the Atom bomb will be needed in this timeline.
Readers who enjoyed the previously mentioned novels will enjoy this one. There are similarities at the start but the paths to victory are different. One significant difference is that this story is confined to one novel. The author spins it out in one compact package. This is a great thing. Too many authors fall into the multivolume trap. This is typical for Conroy. His recent works all focus on a single year and how a given war could have gone differently. This is one of Conroy's best novels. The difficulty for him will be continuing to find new interesting points of departure to develop.