REVIEW SUMMARY: Continuing the quality of effort from the previous book, Birmingham delivers on a quality ending to a complicated trilogy.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The task force from the future introduced in the work Weapons of Choice, continues to deal with the impact of its arrival and, most importantly, the continuation of the fight against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The politics of nations takes center stage here as the planet deals with the new ending to WW2 and the significantly different history of the Soviet Union.
PROS: Excellent thoughts on the behavior of Stalin, Yamamoto, Roosevelt, and others when confronted with the major changes in the world brought about by the technology of the future.
CONS: Perhaps a bit gratuitous in parts – but war is hell.
BOTTOM LINE: The final 2 books in this trilogy make it overall very solid and worth your time if you are interested in military fiction of this type.
I particularly enjoyed seeing how Birmingham has grown as a writer during this series. His characters go through a tremendous transformation from the first to the last book. For example, the character of Julia Duffy who was once just a ‘tough bitch’ of a reporter, opens up into a multi-dimensional persona involving regret, revenge, love, and other passions that make the character feel a lot more human. The black marine Colonel who struggles with the 40’s racial tensions in the first book by just lashing out, is actively working to understand how he can change the system by the third. The same is true with others – they generally move away from stereotypes and into characters I actually saw as people (even if I wouldn’t have them all over for dinner.)
His fictional changes to history and science are generally well thought out and plausible. The idea of a widely networked force (and the dependence on that network) is very in line with the US military of today and its near future. His culture shocks seem real and intelligent – the struggle with 1940’s America’s thinking on women and race seems real and reasonable. Some have challenged Birmingham for portraying the Allies as barely better than the Axis because of their prejudices. I fear those folks didn’t realize how backward the US and other countries were at the time, and how far we’ve come.
Birmingham has given himself the ability to continue this story line if he wishes – the world he leaves us with is very different than that of the 1945 we’re familiar with. Not only is the map different with the USSR in control of parts of western Europe, but the main characters all seem set for different roles (some in politics, some in the private sector.) I’d be interested in reading more fiction set in this world, however his characters have definately seem to have run their course (at least in their current roles.)
Note: this book was sent to me by the publisher to review.