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Hitler's War (War That Came Early Series #1)

Hitler's War (War That Came Early Series #1)

3.6 45
by Harry Turtledove

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BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Harry Turtledove's The War that Came Early: West and East.

A stroke of the pen and history is changed. In 1938, British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, determined to avoid war, signed the Munich Accord, ceding part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. But the following spring, Hitler snatched the rest of that


BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Harry Turtledove's The War that Came Early: West and East.

A stroke of the pen and history is changed. In 1938, British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, determined to avoid war, signed the Munich Accord, ceding part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. But the following spring, Hitler snatched the rest of that country, and England, after a fatal act of appeasement, was fighting a war for which it was not prepared. Now, in this thrilling alternate history, another scenario is played out: What if Chamberlain had not signed the accord? 

In this action-packed chronicle of the war that might have been, Harry Turtledove uses dozens of points of view to tell the story: from American marines serving in Japanese-occupied China and ragtag volunteers fighting in the Abraham Lincoln Battalion in Spain to an American woman desperately trying to escape Nazi-occupied territory—and witnessing the war from within the belly of the beast. A tale of powerful leaders and ordinary people, at once brilliantly imaginative and hugely entertaining, Hitler’s War captures the beginning of a very different World War II—with a very different fate for our world today.

Editorial Reviews

What if Neville Chamberlain had not caved in? What if even one of Hitler's rash gambles had not paid off? History abounds with tantalizing what-ifs, and fortunately for avid readers, Harry Turtledove has devoted his busy writing career to playing out their varied possibilities. In Hitler's War, Chamberlain suddenly grows a spine and refuses to sign the 1938 Munich Accord, and Hitler makes some miscues of his own. As usual, Turtledove peppers his alternative history story with a full cast of arresting characters and far-flung action scenes.
Publishers Weekly
Alternate historian Turtledove (The Man with the Iron Heart) brings the deprivations of war to life in this vision of a very different WWII. After Konrad Henlein is assassinated in Czechoslovakia in 1938, France and England refuse to condone Hitler's plans for annexation, so he invades instead. American Peggy Druce, caught behind the lines, gets a firsthand look at the period military hardware and nationalistic mindsets that Turtledove so expertly describes, though readers looking for more characterization or plotting may be disappointed. Action in the Spanish Civil War and on the Mongolian border muddy the waters, possibly setting up for a clearer plot in subsequent volumes. Until Turtledove reveals more of the direction this scenario will take, there is little to differentiate it from many of his other novels. (Aug.)
Library Journal
The 20th century's world wars have provided Turtledove with ample material for his alternate histories (e.g., "The Great War" tetralogy). His latest series ponders what might have happened if British prime minister Neville Chamberlain had refused to allow German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938. As in previous books, the author tells his tale through a series of alternating minisagas that follow select fictional and historic characters through his narrative arc. VERDICT The author's mastery of the ever-widening ripples that small changes make in history is unchallenged, his storytelling always gripping, and his research impeccable. Certain to appeal to alternate history and World War II aficionados. [Library marketing campaign.]
From the Publisher
“[Harry Turtledove’s] mastery of the ever-widening ripples that small changes make in history is unchallenged, his storytelling always gripping, and his research impeccable.”
Library Journal
“Turtledove is always good, but this return to World War II . . . is genuinely brilliant. . . . The characterizations in particular bring the book to extraordinary life and will make most readers hope this is the beginning of another saga.”
“Turtledove [is] the standard-bearer for alternate history.”
USA Today

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
War That Came Early Series , #1
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Random House
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2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

20 July 1936—outside Lisbon

General José Sanjurjo was a short, heavyset man in his early sixties. He looked from the light plane to the pilot and back again. “Is everything in readiness?” he asked, his tone saying heads would roll if the pilot told him no.

Major Juan Antonio Ansaldo didn’t tell him anything, not right away. Ansaldo was pacing back and forth, his agitation growing with every stride. He watched as Sanjurjo’s aides shoved two large, heavy trunks into the airplane. “Those look heavy,” Ansaldo said at last.

“They hold the general’s uniforms!” an aide said, as if to a simpleton. “On the eve of his victorious march into Madrid, he can’t arrive in Burgos without uniforms!”

Nervously, Ansaldo lit a cigarette. Who was he, a major, to tell Spain’s most senior—and most prestigious—general what to do? He’d placed himself at the disposal of the Spanish state . . . which Sanjurjo would embody, once he flew from Portugal to Burgos to take charge of the rising against the Spanish Republic.

When he flew to Burgos? If he flew to Burgos! The city, in north-central Spain, was a long way from Lisbon. The plane, a two-seater, had only so much fuel and only so strong a motor.

“General . . .” Ansaldo said.

“What is it?” growled the man people called the Lion of the Rif because of his victories in Spanish Morocco.

“¡Viva Sanjurjo!” the general’s men shouted. “¡Viva España!”

Sanjurjo preened . . . as well as a short, heavyset man in his sixties could preen. “Now I know my flag is waving over Spain,” he boomed like a courting grouse. “When I hear the Royal March again, I will be ready to die!”

That gave Major Ansaldo the opening he needed. “General, I don’t want you to die before you get to Spain, before you hear the Royal March again.”

“What are you talking about?” Sanjurjo demanded.

“Sir, those trunks your men put aboard—”

“What about them? They’re my uniforms, as my aides told you. A man is hardly a man without his uniforms.” At the moment, Sanjurjo was wearing a light gray summer-weight civilian suit. He looked and acted quite manly enough for Ansaldo.

“They weigh a lot.” The pilot gestured. “Look at the pine trees all around the airstrip. I need the plane’s full power to take off. I have to make sure I have enough fuel to fly you to Burgos. I don’t want anything to happen to you, Señor. Spain needs you too much to take chances.”

General Sanjurjo frowned—not fearsomely, but thoughtfully. “I can’t fly into Burgos like this.” He brushed at the gray linen of his sleeve.

“Why not, your Excellency? Why not?” Ansaldo asked. “Don’t you think the people of Burgos would be delighted—would be honored—to give you anything you need? Aren’t there any uniforms in Burgos? God help the rising if that’s true!”

“God help the rising.” Sanjurjo crossed himself. Major Ansaldo followed suit. The general took a gold case from an inside jacket pocket and lit a cigarette of his own. He smoked in abrupt, savage drags. “So you think we’ll crash with my uniforms on board, do you?”

“When you’re flying, you never know,” the pilot answered. “That’s why you don’t want to take any chances you don’t have to.”

Sanjurjo grunted. He took a couple of more puffs on the aromatic Turkish cigarette, then ground it out under his heel. “Luis! Orlando!” he called. “Get the trunks off the plane!”

His aides stared as if they couldn’t believe their ears. “Are you sure, your Excellency?” one of them asked.

“Of course I’m sure, dammit.” By the way José Sanjurjo spoke, he was always sure. And so he probably was. “Spain comes first, and Spain needs me more than I need my uniforms. As the pilot here says, there are many uniforms. Por Dios, amigos, there is only one Sanjurjo!” The general struck a pose.

The aides didn’t argue any more. They did what Sanjurjo told them to do. Wrestling the trunks out of the plane’s narrow fuselage proved harder than stuffing them in had been. It took a lot of bad language and help from three other men before they managed it.

Major Ansaldo wondered how many kilos he’d saved. Fifty? A hundred? He didn’t know, and he never would—no scale was close by. But now he would fly with the kind of load the light plane was made to carry. He liked that.

“If your Excellency will take the right-hand seat . . .” he said.

“Certainly.” Sanjurjo was as spry as a man of half his age and half his bulk.

After Ansaldo started the motor, he ran through the usual flight checks. Everything looked good. He gave the plane all the throttle he could. He needed to get up quickly, to clear the trees beyond the far edge of the bumpy field.

When he pulled back on the stick, the nose lifted. The fixed undercarriage left the ground. The bumping stopped. The air, for the moment, was smooth as fine brandy. A slow smile spread across General Sanjurjo’s face. “Do you know what this is, Major?” he said. “A miracle, that’s what! To fly like a bird, like an angel . . .”

“It’s only an airplane, sir,” said Ansaldo, as matter-of-fact as any pilot worth his pay.

“Only an airplane!” Sanjurjo’s eyebrows leaped. “And a woman is only a woman! It is an airplane that takes me out of exile, an airplane that takes me out of Portugal, an airplane that takes me away from the hisses and sneezes and coughs of Portuguese. . . .”

“Sí, Señor.” Major Ansaldo knew how the general felt there. If a Spaniard and a Portuguese spoke slowly and clearly, or if they wrote things out, they could generally manage to understand each other. But Portuguese always sounded funny—sounded wrong—in a Spaniard’s ears. The reverse was also bound to be true, but the pilot never once thought of that.

And his important passenger hadn’t finished: “It is an airplane that takes me back to Spain, back to my country—and Spain will be my country once we settle with the Republican rabble. It is—what does Matthew say?—a pearl of great price.” He crossed himself again.

So did Juan Antonio Ansaldo. “You have the soul of a poet, your Excellency,” he said. General Sanjurjo smiled like a cat in front of a pitcher of cream. Ansaldo did, too, but only to himself; a little judicious flattery, especially flattery from an unexpected direction, never hurt. But he also had a serious point to make: “I’m glad you chose not to endanger the plane—and yourself, a more valuable pearl—with those trunks. Spain needs you.”

“Well, yes,” Sanjurjo agreed complacently. “Who would command the forces of the right, the forces of truth, against the atheists and Communists and liberals in the Republic if anything happened to me? Millán Astray?”

“I don’t think so, sir!” Ansaldo exclaimed, and that wasn’t flattery. Astray, the founder of the Spanish Foreign Legion, was a very brave man. Colonial fighting had cost him an arm and an eye. He still led the Legion, whose war cry was “¡Viva la muerte!”—Long live death! Men like that were valuable in the officer corps, but who would want such a skeletal fanatic leading a country?

“Bueno. I don’t think so, either.” Yes, Sanjurjo sounded complacent, all right. And why not, when he held the rising in the palm of his hand? He couldn’t resist throwing out the name of another possible replacement: “Or what about General Franco?”

“Not likely, your Excellency!” Again, Major Ansaldo meant what he said. No one had ever questioned Francisco Franco’s courage, either, even if he wasn’t so showy about displaying it as Millán Astray was. But the plump little general was no great leader of men. With Sanjurjo’s personality, he could stand beside—could, at need, stand up to— Mussolini and Hitler. Franco? Franco had all the warmth, all the excitement, of a canceled postage stamp.

“No, not likely at all,” General Sanjurjo said. “Once I get to Burgos, the true business of setting Spain to rights can begin.”

“Sí, Señor,” Ansaldo said once more. The light plane droned on: toward Spain, toward Burgos, toward victory, toward the birth of a whole new world.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"The author's mastery of the ever-widening ripples that small changes make in history is unchallenged, his storytelling always gripping, and his research impeccable." —-Library Journal

Meet the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart, The Guns of the South, and How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the War That Came Early novels: Hitler’s War, West and East, The Big Switch, Coup d’Etat, and Two Fronts; the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance;the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, andIn at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

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Hitler's War (War That Came Early Series #1) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
DrTomCA More than 1 year ago
Harry Turtledove has long been a favorite of mine. I rarely wait for a paperback edition of his alternate history novels. I can't; they're too damn good. But "Hitler's War" was a disappointment for me. The characters are sketchy with little or no resolution for most of them at the end. Unless you are a serious student of history, and are thoroughly aware of the world political situation in the late 1930s it will be easy for you to get lost. There was too much information and too little character/plot movement in one book. This would have been an excellent basis for a short series of books but, alas, it didn't happen. I will, of course, continue to read his most excellent books, but I cannot recommend this one.
TheLoon More than 1 year ago
This would be a half decent book if you were a young person who did not much of anything about WWII. You would learn that soldiers smoke a lot of cigarettes, complain about the food a lot, don't want to get killed, etc. You would familiarize yourself with all the general stereotypes regarding Russians, Germans, Frenchmen, the English, etc. But, most of all, you will read that Jews were central to all the events of the war and that being Jewish was very hard in this war. At age 66 I found all of this to be very old news.
Tempo More than 1 year ago
A fun read and very a typical "Turtledove" novel. The Alternative History pviot point for this book is that Hitler starts WWII earlier then in our timeline. Here the war starts with an invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938 as opposed to a free walk-in occupation of Czechoslovakia and a subsequent invasion of Poland in 1939. For some this may seem like a trivial change but this book the first of a series, shows that the geopolitics could be very different. If you have never read Turtledove before, his style is to create his story by moving his dialogues from one setting with a given set of characters to another. This book seems to have a larger set then usually of these setting, so it did take some effort before I felt comfortable recalling the dramas and characters and putting them together in a complete story picture. That said I did very much enjoy Harry Turtledove's history changing ideas in this Alternate History and look forward to reading the next book in the series. The only suggestion I have is that I thought a couple of the settings with respective characters should have been made up of major decision makers (i.e. FDR) to better understand the unfolding of this conflict from a more strategic level. I strongly recommend to all Alternate History fans, History buffs, especial Military History buffs.
JGF More than 1 year ago
In keeping with the 'what if' and the 'might have been' of human history, Turtledoves latest leaves little wanting for his legoins of fans. This first in a series examines how WW2 could have started with the land grab of 38' instead of the invasion of Poland in 39'. As per HT's style, the characters come across as real, with the addition he is not afraid to kill them off in order to advance the plot. All in all a good read and a tantalyzing example of what to look forward to in this new and exciting series.
Legion More than 1 year ago
Let me start by saying Harry Turtledove is an amazing author and definatly go and read some of his other books. Just not this one. It starts out plausible but quickly becomes frustrating. The main problem I had was being expected to believe that a czech soldier escapes from his defeated country and goes to France to fight the nazis. If you read the book you'll know what i'm talking about. All in all I was desappointed by Harry Turtledove but will still read anything new he writes.
Sir_Elton_Butcher More than 1 year ago
I have been a long-time Harry Turtledove reader. His early works were creative, imaginative, and page-turners. However, his recent works have been extremely disappointing. He still does good character development, creates a credible "what if" world, and can hold the readers interest. However, in this like his last four or five books, it just seems as if he looks at the number of pages he's written and says "well, that's two hundred and eighty pages so I'll just quit and send it to the publisher now". His recent books have all ended abruptly, no conclusion and no resolution. Not even a paragraph with a glance and what the future in this alternative history might be. Will there be a sequel? Who knows? Sometimes he writes one, more often in recent years he doesn't. When I finished this book, it no longer left me wanting more - it was more like never again! This is probably the last book I will buy from an author that I used to look forward to every new publication.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having read almost all of his books, this one left me cold. Almost no plot. Just a series of incident involving various people in a fictitious war. No real ending, Seems like he got tired of writing and quit. Many character situations are left unresolved. Certainly does not live up to my expectations of this author.
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Harry Turtledove does it again with another great alternate history novel.
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OldDog55 More than 1 year ago
Turtledove does a great job with developing a story arc. He also does well with details on uniforms, geography, political developments, etc. But his wordsmithing can be a bit grating. Infantry seems to always "lope" behind tanks. Traits for charactars are repeated ad nauseum. They always over-explain their responses or comments. Thus, back and forth conversation is either stitled by excessive analysis, or very cliched wisecracks like a 1930's Film Noir B movie. But if you can endure the prose (and the frequent profanity), the story rewards your patience. This is true for me across all three books so far in his series.
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