Uncommon Enemyby John Reynolds
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In this exciting alternative history novel Nazi Germany is the 1941 victor of World War II and, together with all her enemies occupies the democratic nation of New Zealand. The Occupation forces attempt to win the support of the population with a range of social measures but it quickly becomes clear that collaborate or resist is the stark choice facing each citizen.
Initially the Occupation regime seeks to win popular support through post-war prosperity initiatives that include child support payments and encouraging a growth in the farming. However the regime also begin to clamp down on all personal freedoms and impose widespread censorship.
Stuart Johnson, a university student, encounters the beautiful Carol Peterson on the cross-harbour ferry. She is accompanied by Hamish Beavis who quickly takes exception to Stuart’s obvious interest in Carol. The attraction between Stuart and Carol rapidly develops but Stuart, unaware of the dark secret that she carries, is puzzled by the hold that Hamish appears to have over her.
Stuart’s strong opposition to the regime develops, as does his growing rivalry with Hamish over the love of Carol. In a series of verbal and physical encounters the two men rapidly develop an intense dislike for each other. However, in spite of her apparent growing attraction to Stuart, Carol continues to maintain a relationship with Hamish.
The grip on the New Zealand population continues to grow as the new regime increasingly clamps down on personal and democratic freedoms. Some sections of the population, for a variety of reasons, cooperate and collaborate with their new masters resulting in divided loyalties and confrontation between families and friends. As pressure on the occupied population increases, Carol faces her own pressure from her family that eventually forces her into becoming engaged to Hamish. However, when he decides to join the local Nazi Party she is appalled
A delegation visits the university and, to Stuart’s horror Hamish is part of the group – dressed in his new Gestapo uniform. The delegation presents a series of censorship demands on the university resulting in a large student protest the following day. The protest is brutally suppressed by the Special Police. Stuart escapes but as a wanted man he is forced to flee - accompanied by Carol, who has rejected Hamish. After several narrow escapes they make contact with a resistance group – part of a growing resistance network. The thwarted Hamish uses his new Nazi party position to seek revenge on Stuart and to regain control over Carol.
The resistance group provokes the authorities in a series of incidents that increase Hamish’s vengeful efforts. A series of confrontations, betrayals, twists and turns involving collaborators and resistors from all sections of society provide a thrilling background that tests Carol and Stuart’s love for each other.
Uncommon Enemy is a significant addition to the ‘what if’ genre, provides a credible and chilling picture of what might have been, and poses the question: Given the same situation what would you have done?
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