The Great War: Breakthroughs

No, it’s not Hew Strachan continuing his mammoth World War One history.

It’s an alternate history — which doesn’t usually get included in my World War One in Fantastic Fiction series.

I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to post this retro review from January 7, 2001. It’s a book in the middle of a long Harry Turtledove series. I did not write proper reviews of all of them.

But when has that stopped me before?

And I am presumably off working on new stuff.

You can get a briefing on the series at the Harry Turtledove Website run by Steven H. Silver.

Having read a lot more World War One history since I wrote this review, I would no longer say tanks were the sole factor in ending the stalemate on the Western Front.

Review: The Great War: Breakthroughs, Harry Turtledove, 2000.

BreakthroughsWith the third book in the Great War series, Turtledove brings his alternate WWI, if not the series, to a close.

There’s nothing really startling here as far as alternate depictions of military technology or history. The peace treaty imposed on the Confederacy is obviously modelled on the Treaty of Versailles — and has an even greater potential for cheating. Politically, of course, a victorious Germany on the Continent has profound implications for the future. As in our history, armored breakthroughs end the stalemate of trench warfare. Here the idea comes from an unlikely source: George Armstrong Custer, whose single notable quality, for good or ill, is aggressiveness. A noted variation from our timeline is an earlier linkage of air power with naval power.

But the real attraction of the book is to find out what happens to the characters we’ve followed in earlier books. Some benefit in unexpected ways from war. Some suffer. And some don’t survive the war. Some carry on the fight after the armistice, and others begin to prepare for what they believe will be another war between the United States and the Confederacy.

The most interesting development is that one embittered Confederate veteran seems on his way to becoming a Hitlerian figure in the series’ future.


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