According to Amazon (but not Del Rey as of yet), the summer offering for 2015 is tentatively called "Bombs Away: The Hot War" (I assume that the series will be "The Hot War", volume 1 is "Bombs Away"). [1]

It would be nice if this indeed were a non-WW II story, and better still if it's a Cold War-gone-Hot series as HT seems to keep thinking about, but not quite doing, such a story.

I don't believe this is a TWPE follow-up--in my wanderings about the internet, I've found an interview or two (didn't bookmark, sorry) in which HT has been definitive about that series being absolutely, positively done. TR (talk) 03:33, October 21, 2014 (UTC)

Ok, I was actually able to find a quick blurb--follow the link and scroll to the bottom, but the gist is MacArthur uses an A-bomb in Korea and sets off a shit storm. [2]
And its a trilogy too according to the blurb. ML4E (talk) 19:40, October 21, 2014 (UTC)
If that summary is true, then we have something about Korea for TF. (Also, we have confirmation of something that I've long suspected: that HT doesn't think much of MacArthur.)
And I guess after TWPE, HT really needed his A-bomb fix. TR (talk) 03:53, October 21, 2014 (UTC)

Begin Speculation[]

Interesting. The usual scenario for a hot war is "two thousand cities destroyed in an afternoon and that's all she wrote."
When I first figured out that it was a WWIII type scenario, I was worried it was either Berlin Airlift or Cuban Missile Crisis based--while the former isn't precisely common, it would still be close enough in time to WWII that there would nothing really new; the latter is pretty much a cliché. Then I learned that it's probably Korea, so, as you say, would see nukes, but not the end of the world.
I would not have wanted the CMC, no. That being said, interesting things can still be done with it despite its overexposure. The new novel Back Channel by Stephen Carter is a wonderfully intense political thriller. It's not a true AH on a grand scale (nothing like the same author's The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, which I'd like to read some day) but he does change enough details to make some of the fairly important secondary effects alarmingly unpredictable. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:31, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
I've always been interested to take a look at a war between the USA and USSR that, while involving nuclear exchanges, did not immediately escalate to an all-out omnicidal holocaust.
What's interesting here is that it could very well be a limited conflict. I had to review the timeline a bit to make sure I getting things right--MacArthur was relieved in April, 1951, and was sort of given some level of control over a-bombs the month before. So the window for the POD is relatively narrow. Moreover, in OTL, Atlee in particular was horrified by some of the "loose talk" about nukes coming out of the Truman administration. If MacArthur attacks before he's relieved, the US, now having attacked two Southeast Asian countries with a-bombs in six years, could very well become a pariah. The war could be fought locally with the US and South Korea vs. USSR, PRC, and North Korea, provided Stalin doesn't get ambitious in Europe (and that could go either way fairly plausibly, so that's HT's call). NATO could be effectively still-born thanks to MacArthur's act. TR (talk) 23:40, October 22, 2014 (UTC)


So the UN peacekeepers would all up and leave? Hmm.
With the caveat that I'm merely spitballing, it could go that way. Obviously, following the lead of a country that can't keep its own generals in line seems like it could have poor consequences. On the other hand, there are still regional powers that participated in a combat role that would not be keen on a communist domination of the Korean Peninsula. The UK might bail, and take some of the Europeans (and Latin Americans and Africans) with them, but Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, etc al, might stay in. Given the situation in Indochina, even France could stay on the theory that communist Korea is a bad example for Indochina (or France could go on the theory that they have better things to do in Indochina). And you mention Japan somewhere--I could see an early rearming of Japan to create another pool of military resources should the UK bail. TR (talk) 19:24, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
The War Memorial and Museum in Seoul is a wonderful place for historical interpretation, and I whiled away a handful of days there when I lived in Incheon. I once met a most helpful English-fluent historian they had on staff and had a fascinating conversation with him. I discovered he had a taste for AH himself, after a fashion, and floated a question about Japan contributing to the UN forces. He was adamant that, if Japanese troops returned to the Peninsula that soon after independence, the Republic's soldiers would defect in droves and support for the communists would skyrocket.
I doubt anyone would be foolish enough to attempt it unless they were truly desperate. But of course, the war could spread and Japanese forces could be employed elsewhere. They could also be used to free up American or other troops from non-combat roles elsewhere, though there'd likely still be a lingering suspicion in Washington about giving the Japanese control of strategic locations that they'd so recently been driven out of at such high cost.
Otherwise I guess the question is how much does the UN still want to save the ROK. It's true that few governments would be willing to follow a general who ignores his civilian government in such important matters, but the UN could always just shuffle things around a bit and install a non-American commander. They wouldn't have many choices, though: Commanders of UN peacekeeping forces traditionally come from countries that are among the largest contributors to the operation, and with the hornet's nest kicked over, few countries could afford to commit enough to qualify. Obviously the Soviets would never be considered. KMT Chinese, maybe? Chiang had experience commanding on that scale: He was commander-in-chief of all Allied forces in China during WWII. He'd also given Rhee's government-in-exile a comfy home in Shanghai in the pre-war years and a somewhat more rugged home in Chongqing after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
But while I believe that Atlee would be furious at MacArthur's actions, the US and UK were very accustomed to each seeing the other as its most important ally and I just can't credit a full Anglo-American split at such a critical moment. I could see tense negotiations to work out a way to keep the Brits involved, and one of the trade-offs the Americans accept is allowing a British general to take over as UNC commander. (Or maybe an Australian: I just did a quick bit of Googling to see if I could find any likely candidates, and it turns out that, even though the UK contributed more troops to the UNC than anyone but the RoK and US, most of them served in a joint command with Australian, New Zealander, Canadian, and Indian forces, and all four commanders of this joint command were Aussies.)
Now hanging over all this talk of wheeling and dealing in New York is the Soviet veto. Resolution 82 would not have passed in the first place if Malik had voted no instead of boycotting the meeting where it was passed unanimously. If the Security Council needs to approve whatever arrangement Western diplomats come up with to keep UNC together in the wake of MacArthur's disastrous move, it's easy to imagine Stalin ordering his ambassador to exercise the veto and humiliate the US on the biggest stage in international diplomacy. From the Soviet perspective there's almost no down side to this, at least none I can think of. Turtle Fan (talk) 01:18, October 24, 2014 (UTC)
Now if you do that, you put the US in a very difficult position. Congress never authorized the Korean War in any form (though it did consistently vote to keep our forces over there fully funded). Truman used executive authority to send troops with no legislative approval on the grounds that he was bound to do so by the UN Charter, which had the force of treaty law. It's impossible to imagine the US nuking the enemy then leaving Synghman Rhee to the dogs, but sticking it out after 100% of the legal validation for war is eliminated moves us even closer to becoming a rogue state. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:31, October 23, 2014 (UTC)

Nuclear Proliferation[]

And HT's certainly the one to do it; he's shown the world keep turning despite nuclear exchanges many times, most convincingly in the Race-German War of 1965. Kicking it back to the early 50s is the way to do it too; nuclear proliferation had not yet gotten to the point where you could utterly annihilate everyone even if you wanted to, so conventional warfare would still be necessary. (Unless maybe you used all your nukes to take out the other side's field armies instead of cities, then shrugged and declared the war over on account of having no one to fight it? Sounds more like one of those grim dystopian short stories you see in high school lit books.)
Indeed, the only nuclear powers were the US and the USSR in 1951. The Brits got the bomb in 1952, so after the likely POD of this series. The USSR could give China the technology, but they won't be in the position to actually build a bomb on their own, and an attack on Manchuria would probably slow down progress from OTL. TR (talk) 23:40, October 22, 2014 (UTC)
The Brits had made significant contributions to the Manhattan Project so I suspect that if a nuclear war started before their first arsenal came into being they'd manage to arm up almost immediately. The US would want a nuclear Britain to counter the USSR in Europe; but if Atlee's distaste for Korea-nuking is so intense that it spells the end of Atlanticism, the UK will if anything feel even more urgent pressure to go nuclear, because it will still be seen as an enemy by Moscow, will be in danger of attracting their nukes, and will have the impression that it cannot count on American support to deter those nukes. (Of course that's not a real threat; the US would never allow the USSR to nuke Britain with impunity no matter how badly the special relationship had deteriorated.)
On the other hand, as for the possibility of the Kremlin giving China nukes, I don't think that likely, even if Chinese industrial infrastructure does stay strong despite the bombings in the northeast. Stalin was on slightly friendlier terms with Mao than Kruschev was, but they still shared a deep mutual distrust. More likely Stalin says to Mao "Tell us where you want the bombs to go for the second strike and we'll drop them ourselves." That does have the significant disadvantage of eliminating any possibility that the Soviets could avoid going to war against the US directly and wage a proxy war instead, but sacrificing this by now remote possibility is preferable to the other options: allow the US to get away with nuking communists, or introduce a third, unpredictable, nuclear power to the conflict. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:31, October 23, 2014 (UTC)

Historical Figures[]

And since it's an era HT has not played in before, we should be swimming in new historical characters, even though it's close enough to the over-fished 40s that we'll get lots of repeat appearances too. And yes, we will finally have some meat to Korea, rather than "Korea was still occupied in Timeline X." Even if it ends in "Korea was an uninhabitable irradiated desert," we can't help getting significant backstory along the way. (Can we?)
Yes, the possibilities of a different Cold War rather than another WWII does fill me with more optimism for an HT summer project than I have felt since well before HW. I still have reservations--he's going to have to ditch ground-pounders and give us some higher-ups as POVs here if he wants to avoid the letdown of TWPE, for example, but I can't help but feel a little excited.
The stylistic trends we identified in our post-mortem of TWTPE do give me pause, yes. But as you say, if HT sticks with that he'll be forcing creative choices that don't fit on the story every step of the way. At worst we can hope that, even if he does try to write it with his tried and true formula, it will be such tough going that he'll give it up in favor of something more appropriate. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:31, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
But at the minimum, we should get articles on Kim, Rhee, probably Matthew Ridgway and maybe even Park Chung-hee (whose OTL career is practically tailor-made for HT's ground-pounder-moving-up-in-the-world trope) plus a few others we already have will expand--Zhou, Mao, Atlee (I would imagine, anyway).
And the enigmatic Nieh Ho-Ting would be an appropriate choice for expansion too. Maybe his boss Lin Biao. Really there's no telling which of the PRC's founding fathers will turn up. Their sworn enemies in Taipei will likely have a role to play too. We may even get Soong May-Ling's long overdue appearance.
I'll stop here because I can easily see us falling into wish fulfillment, but I'll also add that an all-out American war in Korea would be impossible for Japan to ignore completely. We've already got Hirohito, but we don't have Shigeru Yoshida. (And if we did, a category for Japanese PMs might actually become viable all of a sudden.) Turtle Fan (talk) 03:31, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
Shifting gears a bit: Joe Steele could in fact justify either a Japanese PM cat or even catch-all "Heads of State of Japan" category. The short story didn't name the leaders of eithers North Japan orSouth Japan, but in the space of 10 pages, those people weren't that important. For a novel, HT might just take the time to throw a dart at a list of names of members of the JCP, or just promote the OTL general secretary to head of North Japan. Since he never actually said what sort of government South Japan was, we might get a new emperor (I'm assuming Hirohito will meet the same fate in the novel as in the short), and potentially some reliably anti-communist and pro-USA politician for the office of president (in a republic) or PM (in a monarch). TR (talk) 16:26, October 26, 2014 (UTC)
Kyuichi Tokuda was the first Chairman of the JCP. He was arrested in 1927 and released after VJ Day when the Emperor decreed a general amnesty for political prisoners. A fellow, umm, fellow traveler named Yoshio Shiga served the same term alongside him. That's about as much as Wikipedia has on either of them, but I definitely get the impression that they were Japan's most prominent and popular communists, so North Japan probably wouldn't have much legitimacy with its own ruling party if Trotsky passed them both over. There's also Sanzo Nosaka (there's a lot more info on him, most of it suggesting he was too nationalistic and pacifistic to make a useful quisling) who served in both houses of the National Diet and became chairman in the late 50s. As communists go he was extremely mild. Actually, that seems to be true of all the Japanese communists of the era that I can find, except the Korean members, who wound up going to Pyongyang after the war (a city where ideological mildness is, shall we say, not encouraged).
Yeah, I'm not counting on some political dynamo for either side. But in the North J case, I think if I were in HT's place, I'd go to Wikipedia, figure out who was doing what in the JCP in 1948-1949, make my selection for North J's leader, and then make sure I spelled his name correctly when I referenced him in the book. TR (talk) 15:52, October 27, 2014 (UTC)
When a great power installs a quisling to govern a lesser power on its behalf, they tend to look for someone closely aligned with their own rulers' politics, ambitious enough to want to keep the job but always mindful of which side of his bread gets buttered, and otherwise profoundly unimaginative.
That's not the kind of mildness I'd attribute to Nosaka. From what I can tell, he was certainly not bombastic; but his mildness was ideological, not very socialist at all--one might almost compare him with Deng, in his pragmatism if not in his actual policy preferences. He appears to have been the architect of the JCP's current platform, which is: renegotiate its relationship with the US to include, among other things, throwing us out of Okinawa and our other bases; reorient (no pun intended) its foreign policy to cooperate more closely with other regional powers, perhaps going so far as to support the creation of an Asian Union; amend the constitution to strengthen the language in Article 9, but hang on to the SDF even so, just in case; and express a pro forma disapproval of the monarchy, but don't push for its abolition unless the emperor starts misbehaving. (The JCP also wants civil unions for same sex couples, but it doesn't look like Nosaka had anything to do with that one way or the other.) He was a voice in the Diet against an alliance with the US, but otherwise there's not much there to make him appealing to Moscow. And he was principled enough that, during the Korean War, he accepted severe party discipline rather than get in line with resolutions supporting Kim and Mao, so Trotsky would not find it easy to twist his arm. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:50, October 29, 2014 (UTC)
Wish fulfillment did have a part to play in our collection reaction to TWPE (a small one--there are plenty of objective problems with that series as we've discussed elsewhere, more than just "why didn't HT put this historical figure in just because I think he should have."). TR (talk) 19:24, October 23, 2014 (UTC)

US Presidential Election, 1952[]

If's a trilogy, and the POD is in 1951, then we could get a more substantive 1952 POTUS election out of it. with this mess, Truman's even less viable in 1952 than he was in OTL. Does this impact Ike? On the one hand, he was MacArthur's chief of staff. On the other hand, they hated each other from the 1930s on. Does Robert Taft finally get his moment?
I'd love to see a dark horse taking it. In OTL most delegates actually showed up at the DNC convention with no clear idea of who they wanted to carry the standard or what they wanted that standard to represent. Because the convention was in Illinois, Stevenson got to give the welcome address, and he made it such a sonorous speech that a critical mass of delegates said "What the hell, why not this guy?" They'd come to the convention with a much greater sense of urgency this time, so that nomination is wide open.
If the POD is indeed March-April, 1951, then HT has a good year and a half in story time (and I suspect a couple of volumes in real time) to pretty plausibly create a "what the hell, why not this guy" choice. TR (talk) 19:24, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
As for the Republican side, I seem to recall Eisenhower having quietly laid a strong foundation beforehand, but a nuclear war could turn that on its ear. Taft is a possibility if HT wants to use the GOP as, once again, the party of peace. If he does he won't have the peace candidate win, or the next book will be Hot War: The War Cools Right Back Down Again.
Well, before TWPE, I would have suggested that HT's pattern of roughly a year per book would probably have placed the election in the closing chapters of volume 2. However, since HW and W&E covered a year between them, and the timeline for the rest of the series was just all over the place, maybe the election is how the series ends--with Peace Candidate X promising "We will go from Korea" and winning, and the closing chapters of Volume 3 see our various protagonists wondering what Kim will do with the entirety of Korea.
Yeah, I suppose that works. One thought I'd had is that Book 1 covers a year and a half and ends with the election. If you've got a very stark choice between a peace candidate (most likely Taft) and a war candidate, the book could end on election night with HT announcing the winner and leaving us to wonder what dramatic change of course the 2016 installment will offer. More exciting still would be to close with someone listening to a newscaster say "We are projecting that the thirty-fourth President of the United States will be--" and the radio chooses that very moment to crap out. Of course, all the TWTPE books reemphasized the lesson that TG first taught: HT doesn't seem to have much interest in cliffhangers anymore. Turtle Fan (talk) 01:18, October 24, 2014 (UTC)
Apart from Eisenhower, Taft, and MacArthur, the GOP field of OTL was, eh, a run of fairly milquetoast choices. Among them were both Earl Warren and Harold Stassen; for the latter, it was the fourth of ten runs and the last time he was considered a contender rather than a nuisance or a joke. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:31, October 23, 2014 (UTC)

UK General Election, 1951[]

Depending on how Attlee handles relations with the US, we may get a very different 1951 UK election, or perhaps no election at all if the UK simply withdraws.
I'd imagine Churchill will be the hawk and Atlee the dove. Churchill can't bang that drum too hard since he kept Atlee as Deputy PM all through the war and its All-Party Coalition. Was there a hawkish wing of Labour that could shoot him down from within, or even revive National Labour and form a coalition with Churchill? Not that I know of. So for our purposes, the only new article we might get would come if there's a hung Parliament and Clement Davies has the opportunity to get his Nick Clegg on. That's highly unlikely; the Liberals held only 9 seats after the previous election and so would have a hell of a time getting noticed in doing anything that could set them up as a viable option during the campaign. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:31, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
Much of the problem Atlee faced in '51 was the fact that the budget was getting bloated to pay for the UK's involvement in the war. If Atlee withdraws from the fighting, he might save himself for a little while. On the other hand, Labour's leaders were quite literally aging out of office at that point, so maybe a relatively dovish Conservative still gets traction in '51 in this scenario. TR (talk) 19:24, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
The Conservatives were a very disciplined and unified party in '51. Churchill was the leader, and remained extremely popular: Aside from being able to dine out on Victory for the rest of his life, any lingering resentment for his leading the party to defeat in 1945 was countered by its much stronger showing in 1950. You had the old warhorse as leader, but his front bench was full of young rising stars, so the party offered the best of both worlds. They were a lean, mean, campaigning machine. Since the POD is in the spring of '51, it's going to take a hell of a lot for a dove to oust Churchill and consolidate his leadership by election day (October 25). Turtle Fan (talk) 01:18, October 24, 2014 (UTC)
Right, but assuming Labour bails on the war, is the Conservative promise of getting right back in a selling point? TR (talk) 16:29, October 26, 2014 (UTC)
Maybe not, but they'll have to stand or fall on their hawkish orientation either way. Even if they recognize that it's a losing issue, the power that British parties invest in their leaders renders them unable to make the kinds of rapid swings we're speculating on for the American parties. A move in that direction requires either Churchill to flip-flop (unlikely) or the Conservatives to get walloped in the election, so much so that the party rank and file ousts him (or he more likely that he resigns to avoid that humiliation). And if the Tories get walloped, Labour has a strong mandate and won't be calling for another election any time soon.
Consider this, though: Even if going back to Korea is an unpopular position, you've got a world war that's on the verge of rapidly expanding. That's a terrifying thought for Britons, especially if they do not yet have the bomb themselves. They know the Kremlin sees them as an enemy and would love to batter them into submission, and the only realistic antidote to that is to repair their alliance with the US. Churchill is certainly the man for that, and that could be the centerpiece of the Conservative campaign. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:57, October 27, 2014 (UTC)
And of course, if Stalin makes big moves early on, Atlee isn't all that likely to drop out of the alliance (again, assuming that's what even happens.) 15:55, October 27, 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I really do think a clean break in the Anglo-American alliance just won't happen. More likely Attlee uses the special relationship to demand that the US try to make amends to the other affected parties (with more of an eye toward its allies than its enemies) and that this will include things like replacing MacArthur with a Commonwealth general--or even arming the UK so it's ready for the coming shit storm. Turtle Fan (talk) 02:41, October 28, 2014 (UTC)


One story arc that strikes me as having potential is MacArthur's. It's one thing to shoot your mouth off and forget that the POTUS is the Commander-in-Chief as in OTL, it's quite another to launch atom bombs without that Commander's approval. We could get a reasonably meaty story about the court martial and perhaps even the war crimes trial of MacArthur against the background of this war. TR (talk) 23:40, October 22, 2014 (UTC)
That would be fun. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:31, October 23, 2014 (UTC)


By the way, there was strong support in Congress for nuking both the DPRK and Manchuria (well, we still called it Manchuria at that point; I forget what Mao renamed it to). One of this cabal's most vocal and eloquent spokesmen--in fact, its point man in taking the case to the American public via the new medium of television--was Lloyd Bentsen. Kind of out of step with the reputation he managed to cultivate later in life, thanks in large part to his notorious one-liner. Turtle Fan (talk) 02:32, October 22, 2014 (UTC)
Well since Bentsen is no longer with us, maybe he gets an article. TR (talk) 23:40, October 22, 2014 (UTC)
What the hell, going off the dark horse comment above I'll make my first "prediction:" Taft wins the Republican nomination early in July and establishes the GOP as the peace party. Later that month the Democrats commit to a hawkish course for a bevy of reasons, not least of which is that it's the most obvious avenue of attack to which Taft is vulnerable. They decide to run a war candidate. They want young blood and someone who can't be tied to the Truman albatross too closely. They want someone who's polished and eloquent and won't come off as a raving lunatic. They want someone who can deliver the Not Quite So Solid As It Used To Be South. They turn to Texas and nominate Bentsen. He's a moderate on domestic issues, which are still worth considering given that it is a limited if large war, and is appealing enough that the old New Deal coalition remembers all the reasons they hate Taft domestically, and Bentsen enjoys widespread support from within his party. Since he's got all his bases covered with core Democratic constituencies, the DNC gives him Eisenhower as a running mate, creating a pro-war fusion ticket and inviting hawkish Republicans (as well as black voters skeptical about a Southern candidate but pleased with Ike's emerging position on civil rights) to desert Taft in droves. Bentsen wins in a landslide, gives the Joint Chiefs much wider rules of engagement, and the war escalates.
Just a shot in the dark, I have no serious expectation that it will come true and recognize that it's more or less ignoring more than a year's worth of butterfly effect. But let me say that, after the ennui that's persisted more or less since The Grapple, it's nice to be excited enough to want to take shots in the dark again. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:31, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
Well, I like Taft as the GOP candidate. Given HT tropes and Taft's own real history, I'd be willing to drop a few bucks on a bet. Literally, like $5.00 at most.
I doubt Bentsen, and am unwilling to bet even a penny on your prediction, but damn, that's a good scenario. TR (talk) 19:24, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I was just having some fun with it. I would say it has a snowball's chance in hell: There really was no frontrunner in '51 or '52, and Bentsen really was one of the leading nuclear hawks in Korea. His slightly less than two terms in the House isn't a great deal of time to build a national following, but it's more exposure than Stevenson had in OTL. He could be a true dark horse in a wide open convention, but he'd still be a long shot to win it all.
I do hope HT uses him in some way, though. Here's a much more minor appearance that I think rings very true to HT's tropes. Let's say that in the immediate aftermath of the bombing, the White House is scrambling in a mostly-futile effort to cool the hot war down again. Part of that involves sacking MacArthur and replacing him with a far more cautious commander: maybe Ridgway, maybe someone else. But in certain corners of the country, MacArthur's actions are very popular, the hawks are rallying to his defense, and there's a very vocal opposition to Truman's conciliatory approach.
So Congress is holding a hearing and they're grilling someone from the JCS or something on the much narrower rules of engagement that Truman and Ridgway have implemented in Korea. The hawks are really digging into this staff officer who represents the backtracking tendency in the nation's defense policy. Caught off guard, the witness desperately attempts to appease them by saying something like "These rules of engagement are the same ones General MacArthur put in place before the POD." See where this is going?
"General, you're no Douglas MacArthur!" Turtle Fan (talk) 01:18, October 24, 2014 (UTC)


One other random thought: since this is a trilogy, I think the USSR must do something in Europe, or the PRC decides nuke entitle it to attack Taiwan and Japan or something. Every scenario we've discussed above contemplates strong possibilities of a localized Korean War. With MacArthur dropping unauthorized a-bombs, global support is shaky at best, and Truman would have every incentive to push for an armistice or just bail, and call the surrender of the South to the North a sort of "reparation". But even HT doesn't need three volumes to tell that story. So if it's an alternate war series, then something else has to happen that makes an immediate armistice impossible (USSR and/or PRC do "something"), OR, it's one volume of war, followed by a political series akin to Colonization or American Empire. TR (talk) 19:24, October 23, 2014 (UTC)
I'm sure the war will spread; it's too tempting to do otherwise, and North Korea is too hated these days (rightly so of course) for anyone to want to read about its triumph. Here's one general pattern I'd like him to follow: Book 1 is about what a ratfuck Korea has become, with the US and a few minor partners and a handful of allies in the UN trying to keep something alive over there, but with all the other great powers bailing. At the same time, communists go on the move elsewhere: The PRC takes a whack at Taiwan and maybe a few of its other neighbors, the Viet Minh redoubles its efforts to drive the French out, same story with groups like the Malayan National Liberation Army and the PKI strikers in Indonesia, and eventually it spreads outside of Asia. (Man oh man would this give us a lot of new historicals!) As this drags on, the US's still-skeptical alienated allies gradually come to the realization that they're not going to be able to sit this one out after all, and repair their relationships with Washington in the interests of presenting a united front. At the end of Book 1 the Soviet Union itself is drawn into a conflict, and the other two books leave Korea and its expanding ripples and give us a global conflict (which is what I for one really want from a Cold War AH anyway).
And of course I fully recognize that the various items of the wish list I've strewn over this page contradict one another in all sorts of ways. We're just spitballing at this point, after all. Turtle Fan (talk) 01:18, October 24, 2014 (UTC)
If we're looking at Europe, maybe there's an earlier Polish revolt in Poznan or Hungarian Revolution, both of which occur in 1956 in OTL. The Tito-Stalin split with Yugoslavia happened in 1948, there were some over the border shootouts with Albania (still in Soviet camp then) and Romania (Turtledove's ancestral land), and some pro-Stalin Yugoslav communists tried to flee to the USSR via Romania. Maybe some of these become hot points? An earlier Warsaw pact in this time line than ours (1955)? In the Mideast, maybe the Arab powers go for a round two vs. Israel while the world is looking at East Asia? Also, when Russia fought Georgia in 2008, the Georgian coalition troops were withdrawn from Iraq. Since HT loves his parallelism, maybe USSR invades Turkey and the Turks have to trek it back from the Korean Peninsula? JudgeFisher (talk) 02:09, December 4, 2014 (UTC)
An expanded role for Yugoslavia is interesting indeed. I wonder if Tito might just end up coming in on our side. I think his preference would be to try to maintain neutrality, but I also think it's a neutrality Stalin would quickly violate. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:17, December 4, 2014 (UTC)
It did occur to me recently that uprisings in Eastern Europe might come ahead of schedule if Stalin was busy looking at Korea. It also occurred to me that with the a-bomb being a precedent in Manchuria, and given HT's own tropes, Stalin might think a well-placed bomb or two would be a really fast way to get things in Europe back under his control. I do think a Yugoslavia as UN co-belligerent is plausible, and would love to see HT do something with it. TR (talk) 19:27, December 5, 2014 (UTC)

Another summary[]

Here[3]. FYI. TR (talk) 03:55, October 24, 2014 (UTC)

" . . . Harry's usual, keen ability to portray the plight of the common man in the midst of disaster . . . " Oh no, tell me that's not code for more strained marriages and grocery shopping and worrying that someone in power is going to learn about that time you cheated on a final exam or whatever. Granted, that "usual, keen ability" has been used in more balanced stories and has added richly to them, but after TWTPE and (by reputation, anyway, at least for me) Supervolcano, I really wanted to see hints that the emphasis is shifting back to where it belongs.
I caution reading too much into what is printed at Rising Shadow at the moment. Del Rey still doesn't acknowledge this book yet, so that might be a moderator at Rising Shadow cobbling something together based on whatever early publicity materials Del Rey might have given away. TR (talk) 16:46, October 26, 2014 (UTC)
Hmm, you're right. There just can't be much in the way of information on the book at this early stage, even for professional promoters. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:24, October 27, 2014 (UTC)
Those "brushfire wars in the aftermath" could mean WWIII ends quickly and creates a power vacuum in which systemic conflict is no longer possible, or it could be more like what we've been spitballing in the section above this one: the nuclear conflict in Korea leads to a general destabilization elsewhere. I guess that all depends on what's meant by "the nuclear conflict itself:" all of WWIII, or just the Korean War. That last is actually something we haven't really considered and might do well to think of. We seem to be assuming that after MacArthur orders the nuking, a collective "oh shit" leads to the tide turning against his side; but it's a bit surprising how quickly we've slipped into the counterintuitive assumption that of course the side that possesses and uses the most powerful weapon ever will lose to the side that doesn't. If he uses the nukes for an overwhelming first strike, he could knock China out and roll up the DPRK. By the time the inevitable backlash hits, Seoul's victory is a fait accompli and the communist response has to factor in the reality that Korea itself is a lost cause for them. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:53, October 24, 2014 (UTC)
I'd been having similar thoughts as well, that it's within the realm of possibility that things go well enough post-nuke that momentum topples Kim. Given that the attacks are in Manchuria, it could also be that Stalin makes things worse and tries to decide who controls Zhenbao Island much earlier, all while acting under the guise of protecting China from the inevitable US incursion, or something like that. Selfishly pursing USSR goals while making things worse for his supposed allies rather than face the West, in other words.
Yeah, that's a possibility. In the 50s Mao did not control the Party to the point that his chairmanship was invulnerable, so Stalin might even have an eye toward making enough trouble for him that his opponents would be tempted to make a challenge. Unlike earlier such Soviet meddling in various national communist parties' leadership contests, that's unlikely to get Stalin a cat's-paw; the likeliest successful challenger would be a product of the Liu Shaoqi/Deng Xiaopeng alliance, and Stalin would like them even less. But a period of instability could still serve his purposes, or at least he could believe it would. We ought not underestimate just how unpopular Mao was in Moscow even then. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:24, October 27, 2014 (UTC)
Truman could still seek to relieve MacArthur, which would probably be even less popular under those circumstances. Since MacArthur is looking pretty damn heroic, that's not going to fly. And then, maybe it's President MacArthur in 1952?
If so you could have a story where the initial crisis brings everyone to the brink, then the situation calms down, then just when you think it's safe to go back in the water a change of leadership in Washington ratchets tensions up through the roof again. A multi-volume story allows you to pace that very satisfyingly, if HT bothers to do so. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:24, October 27, 2014 (UTC)
I'm going use your remark about change of leadership to throw out one last little bit of wish-fulfillment thought. Stalin died in OTL in March, 1953. HT has decided that Stalin died of natural causes (and has ignored the unsubstantiated assassination rumors), and has had him die "on schedule" in Worldwar, "Ready for the Fatherland", and the short version of "Joe Steele". Therefore, unless Stalin is killed off sooner, I think it's reasonable to assume he will die in March, 1953 in this timeline. Now, assuming the trilogy does indeed carry over into 1953, it's worth pointing out that Robert Taft died in July, 1953, after being diagnosed with a malignant form of cancer in April, 1953 that had completely spread throughout his body. There is nothing in the POD that would alter that (unless HT does something really hackish, like have Taft go to the doctor every week beginning in April, 1951 for no good reason). That would mean that if Taft does indeed win in 1952, we could see both the US and USSR having an abrupt change in leadership within weeks of each other (I assume the VP, whomever that is, becomes Acting POTUS once Taft is diagnosed in April, and then POTUS in July), and, well, that could be very interesting....TR (talk) 16:17, October 27, 2014 (UTC)
HT could move Stalin's death up if it suited his purposes. He had a massive heart attack in October '45 and never fully recovered. Adding a heavy dose of stress, such as panicky reports that USAF is about to start dropping bombs in the Soviet Union, could cause his health to deteriorate ahead of schedule. If HT, for instance, wants his death to throw a wrench into the American election.
I always forget about that heart attack. (Evidently, so does HT.) TR (talk) 06:48, October 28, 2014 (UTC)
The story of why I remember it is rather silly. Apparently after the heart attack Stalin became terrified of having another when he was alone (as in fact did happen shortly before his death, when he seized in his bedroom and his guards obeyed their standing orders not to disturb him until he came outside to tell them he was awake). One consequence of this fear was that he had a series of emergency telephones installed along a certain path on the grounds of his dacha that he enjoyed walking along. Each phone was a hotline directly to his security detail's command center. Each was also less than a meter off the ground, on the assumption that if he needed to use them he would most likely have collapsed and be unable to rise.
Some years ago I was flipping through a then-recent biography of the man in a bookstore. I was perusing the photos in the final centerfold. There were several photos showing how the fear of death changed his behavior at the end of his life, and one caption called attention to one of these phones. When I read that I was all of a sudden overwhelmed by how funny it would have been if a bodyguard had been sitting in the command center, heard the phone ring, picked it up, and heard . . .
"I'm Stalin and I can't get up!" Turtle Fan (talk) 03:35, October 29, 2014 (UTC)
Otherwise, yeah, having both leaders die virtually at the same time could open up all sorts of possibilities. I don't believe I know of any historical example of that happening in the middle of a major war, but I wouldn't mind seeing HT play with it. (Of course if an abrupt change in leadership is what he's going for, he needn't elect Taft and kill him off; he could just elect whomever he wants in the first place.) Turtle Fan (talk) 02:37, October 28, 2014 (UTC)
I agree putting Taft in to simply die is probably not economic storytelling, but it would be perfectly in line with the HT's "fiction has to be plausible, history just has to happen" philosophy. In addition to the point you make about it not happening in the middle of a war (I can think of instances where the death came at the end of the war, or helped cause the end of the war, but not when everything is ostensibly up in the air), the close death of the POTUS and the Leaders of USSR would be a subtle difference from OTL. I think it's safe to say that there is a difference between how the psyches of each country handled the routine legal change of POTUS every four to eight years vs. the abrupt death of the POTUS, and I think that would be an "angle" for HT to explore, e.g. the USSR starts cooling down (as it did in OTL), and then the POTUS dies, and suddenly the USSR doesn't perceive itself as playing from a "weak" position and heats back up. That subtle difference from OTL is the type of thing HT has played with in the past. The best example is having Coolidge win in 1932 in TL-191, and then dying on the OTL schedule. This had two consequences: 1) Hoover became president and 2) Coolidge became a president-elect who died before inauguration, something that has not yet happened in OTL. I suspect both things were of equal importantance to HT when he was writing.
Now that I think of it you've got Roosevelt and Hitler both dying in the spring of '45, but as you say, that was not in the thick of the war.
Otherwise, it's true that the sudden death of a newly minted President would have a certain shock value to which an orderly transition of power can't compare. The most interesting way to spin it, I think, would be--remembering that the Vice Presidency was (as is so often the case) held in some contempt early in the Cold War--to have the GOP give Taft a somewhat less dovish running mate who was strong on the GOP's main domestic issues to keep the party's hawks from voting Democratic or just staying home--someone like Dulles or Vandenberg or maybe even Nixon. Taft wins and everyone's expecting that the US will be backing down soon after, but then the White House abruptly passes to someone who zigs where Taft would have zagged. You might even have the communists already standing down by this point, then have a collective "Oh shit" moment. If doves had been making headway in the Kremlin in the immediate aftermath of Stalin's death (maybe move that up a few months for the sake of dramatic tension) they're ruthlessly purged by the likes of Beria and some nasty hawks come back in. (Much as I like for HT to give us some variety with these hypothetical successions, Molotov might be the best choice there.) Turtle Fan (talk) 03:35, October 29, 2014 (UTC)
Anyway, that bit of rambling aside, I freely admit it's an idea I'm unduly infatuated with, and that I have absolutely no reason to think it's actually going to happen. TR (talk) 06:48, October 28, 2014 (UTC)
The thing that gives me pause, is that, while I am no expert on MacArthur, I am well read enough to know that through most of his career, particularly at the end, MacArthur was one of those people who was so sure that he was right, he could not imagine his plans going wrong. Therefore, when things went well, like Inchon, they went splendidly and fueled his sense of infallibility. But when things did start blowing up in his face, he simply pretended they weren't and made things worse.
I suspect that this sort of familiarity with the man is why our discussion has gone the way it has--we just readily assume after MacArthur does this thing, convinced he's absolutely right, his ability to capitalize on any success it brings will not last very long. Because he's MacArthur. TR (talk) 16:46, October 26, 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, that's a point. What if Truman (or strictly speaking, Lie, who would ordinarily be expected to follow Truman's lead but might act a bit more assertively and independently if the UN's got its neck on the line during a shit storm) gets MacArthur out at just the right moment and replaces him with someone who can preserve the short-term advantages? Maybe Truman could somehow manage to squeeze MacArthur out gracefully as Sinclair did Custer in 191? Much harder to do that in the middle of a war, granted.
By the way, the first time my Grammy voted for president, she cast a write-in vote for Douglas MacArthur. I never did ask her why. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:24, October 27, 2014 (UTC)

The Stub[]

Since Random House acknowledges it now, I went ahead and created the stub.  I don't see much point in doing anything else, like creating a category for The Hot War, until BA is actually released.  TR (talk) 19:38, November 3, 2014 (UTC)

Agreed. What you have is appropriate. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:13, November 4, 2014 (UTC)

Official summary[]

An official summary is now available at Del Rey's web site, here. I'll let everyone else read before commenting. TR (talk) 00:32, January 12, 2015 (UTC)

I've read it. I'm intrigued. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:22, January 12, 2015 (UTC)
Well, most of our speculation above went poof, since we now know Truman greenlights MacArthur's a-bomb plan (as opposed to MacArthur going rogue), and we know that Stalin jumps Europe. I'm guessing bombardment of Western Europe, with an invasion and occupation of West Germany, maybe use the opportunity to bring Yugoslavia in line. The Judge suggested a Soviet invasion Turkey above, which would certainly be within Stalin's broader aims.
Yeah, turns out we were barking up the wrong tree. It's still a slightly open question how the US's allies react, but since it seems they're all of them going directly onto Stalin's hit list, they'll be mending fences with Washington in no time.
I'm very surprised that Stalin would start nuking Europe right away. I expected a buildup to that. Europe's role in the Cold War was largely as the prize over which the superpowers competed. Smashing it up so badly right away, that seems foolish. You'd think Stalin would use the initial barrage to strengthen the Warsaw Pact's position so it would be in strong position to take that prize intact. As the war goes on, reversals might lead to his deciding to nuke Europe to deny it to the enemy, but starting out with that suggests to me that he's either feeling desperate (perhaps his deteriorating health has left him with no stomach for another drawn-out total war that he can't realistically expect to live to see the end of?) or very loopy. But something like that means he's going straight to an all out war: The US might be willing to accept a nuking of Turkey or Pakistan or Israel or someone like that, but never of the UK.
So if that's what Stalin wants to do, why not cut all the way to the chase and send bombers over North America? He had planes with the range to strike at least the Pacific Northwest.
Yugoslavia--Of course Stalin would love to have them towing the line, and there would be incentives for Tito to do so. (By the way, I do hope we can get some proper involvement from Tito; it feels like there should be more to his article than just "Heydrich drew inspiration from his guerrilla tactics.") But there are also reasons for Tito to dig in his heels and remain neutral, and conceivably even an outside chance of his helping NATO. I don't expect the latter, but if the politicians do decide to pull back from the brink after the war starts, Tito would be almost the only world leader with the stature and the ties to both camps to be a candidate for mediating an end to the conflict. Violating Yugoslav neutrality is burning a rather important bridge. Of course, so are a lot of the other things teased at in this summary. Turtle Fan (talk) 21:01, January 12, 2015 (UTC)
Yugoslavia is kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place. If it leans towards NATO, it can be attacked from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Albania. If it leans towards the USSR, it can be attacked from Italy, Greece, the Adriatic Sea, and via either anti-communist Serb and/or Croat emigrant groups, some of which tried this unsuccessfully on their own in OTL. Also, Austria is still under joint W. Allied/Soviet occupation at this point. The summary says "the whole world has become a battleground"  -- of course this can't be literally true. I seriously doubt anyone in say, Bolivia, would be majorly affected at this stage of the nuclear exchanges. JudgeFisher (talk) 00:04, January 13, 2015 (UTC)
You've outlined Yugoslavia's reasons for remaining stubbornly and scrupulously neutral. Don't forget the superpowers' reasons for allowing it to do so: It was a horrible, horrible quagmire for Hitler, and that was only a few short years before our story starts. Whichever army tries to beat Belgrade into submission is all but guaranteed to get bogged down in a vicious guerrilla war.
Yes, there will be neutral governments and even entire regions of neutrality which are unlikely to face either invasion or missile attacks. But the Cold War was a systemic conflict, and this hot war will be even more so. All kinds of political disputes are bound to get sucked into it, as they did in WWI and WWII. Communists in Latin America would be jumping out of their boots trying to find a way to end Yankee influence in the region, and even the remote potential of a Soviet ally cropping up on what had been a secure American flank will not be tolerated. Pro-American leaders like Somoza, Batista, and Peron will be given blank checks by the State Department to keep this from happening, and if they fail, expect ruthless direct interventions. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:55, January 13, 2015 (UTC)
The references to Mao suggest that Mao is probably not initially casualty of the Manchurian bombings.
I figured as much. Once he set himself up as President, he went kinda soft, and generally only left the capital for publicity stunts. (Actually he was kind of soft even before he became President; for instance, he spent most of the Long March being carried around in a howdah.) Turtle Fan (talk) 21:01, January 12, 2015 (UTC)
I'm a little nervous about the early reveals on POVs--while an American behind enemy lines has potential, in total it still sounds like more worm's eye approach. I'm really curious as to what a British barmaid might bring to the table, and at the same time wondering just how much such a character can show us. I don't see the Red Army driving across Europe, re-enacting the Battle of France AND pulling off Operation Sea Lion. So perhaps a redux of the Battle of Britain with nukes? (As an aside, I'd love it if that barmaid was in Dover, England, reminiscing about World War II, and the pilots who were stationed there during the war, including that one Jewish radar operator she never had time for. And maybe her first name is Sylvia and she can't believe she's a barmaid after all these years.) TR (talk) 05:48, January 12, 2015 (UTC)
I thought the same thing :-D It seems when HT doesn't quite finish out a character, he transplants a part of them into the next series.JudgeFisher (talk) 00:04, January 13, 2015 (UTC)
Just reading about a single American soldier trapped in North Korea is frightening. The barmaid, yes, I'm curious about her. I always do like to have civilian characters, though HT often has them focus too narrowly on just one aspect of the home front. Ukrainian war veteran--That could be a grizzled non-com who's been in the Red Army since WWII (not since WWI, of course; you can't have a Walsh or Demange on that side). But I'm wondering if maybe he's not active duty anymore. If he is I suppose he'll be drafted back into the Army pretty quickly, so that could be a distinction without a difference. Unless . . . If a Banderist, or even a pro-Fascist guerrilla, somehow avoided the gulag, he'd also be classified as a Ukrainian war veteran, yes? Not that I can think of anything interesting there. I guess I'm just willfully trying to find alternative explanations that will spare us another cast overloaded with foot soldiers who will give us nothing but the same front lines scenes we've already had several thousand times.
And unless the Ukrainian war veteran happens to be a field marshal, I'm not hopeful that our big complaint against TWTPE has been addressed. Granted, we only have three POVs, I'm certain there must be many more. But based on what we have, it does look like a cast typical of recent works.
The utterly naive, really-silly-should-know-better part of me can't help but remember that Nikita Khrushchev was a Ukranian war vet. I have NO hope that's who the POV will be. TR (talk) 22:34, January 12, 2015 (UTC)
I also thought of Khrushchev. But I know it's not going to happen; if it were, Del Rey would brag about it, because that's the sort of thing that gets readers like us excited. They wouldn't try to sneak it past as a surprise. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:55, January 13, 2015 (UTC)
Yes Khrushchev had ties Ukraine, but he was Russian. The two Ukrainian war vets I'm betting on are Sergei Kramarenko and/or Ivan Kozhedub. Both are hero fighter pilots and both flew against the Americans in Korea, of course off the official record. Unless HT invents someone. But these two guys would be good characters.JudgeFisher (talk) 00:04, January 13, 2015 (UTC)
I know that HT added a smattering of historical POVs to TWTPE for the first time in ages, but everything about the patterns of his history says fictional characters are a much safer bet. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:55, January 13, 2015 (UTC)
Especially in multi-volume series. I anticipate two or three tops out of say, a dozen POVs. In some fairness, this has been his pattern since Worldwar. Groves, Molotov and Anielewicz were POVs from ItB, and Nieh was rotated in during UtB. Only Molotov and Anielewicz carried over into Colonization. And that was out of a dozen or so POVs. TR (talk) 23:09, January 14, 2015 (UTC)
One can't always tell, of course; I remember reading the summary for HW and thinking the story's greatest strength would be its characters. Specifically, I was most excited for the blurbs that turned out to refer to Pete McGill, Peggy Druce, and Sarah Goldman.
And while having Sylvia turn up would be interesting, that would be a huge break from HT's usual pattern. I was thinking it would be great if Molotov comes back as a POV. His star was waning in the early 50s, he might see this crisis as an opportunity to prove that he was still valuable to the Party. In fact, while I could be mistaken, I believe Polina Zhemchuzhina was in a gulag at this time, he might be motivated by the desire to make himself important enough to demand her release. Turtle Fan (talk) 21:01, January 12, 2015 (UTC)
Oh, I wasn't remotely serious about Sylvia. I mean, I do think it would be cool if HT did the occasional fictional crossover with other timelines (Ludwig Rothe could just as easily have been named Heinrich Jäger for as important as he was to TWPE), but as you say, it ain't gonna happen.
When FDR let Flora in on the secret of the not-Manhattan Project, I was desperately hoping she'd take a tour of it at some point and run into Jens Larssen, a happy, productive, valued, well-adjusted patriot and professional. Poor Jens's arc in Worldwar had to go the way it did, but he still deserved a happy ending on some level, and I thought that would be a golden opportunity to do that for him.
Bringing Jager into HW only to kill him off in a meaningless skirmish at the end of Book 1, now, that would have just pissed me off. Especially since he would have died while so many interchangeable blobs devoid of personality lived on. (Some of them got better, yes, but at the end of HW I did not hold out hope for a single one of them.) Turtle Fan (talk) 04:55, January 13, 2015 (UTC)
Now we do have a small number of historicals doing POV double-duty (Lee, Shakespeare, Hitler) so Molotov as a POV is not impossible, but as you noted, Molotov was not in the best place. In fact the record suggests that at that point in OTL, Stalin hated Molotov and Mikoian (and perhaps even Beria) so much he couldn't stand the sight of them. Even with WWIII breaking out, I don't think Molotov's reputation is getting repaired.
Well Stalin was notoriously mercurial and unpredictable, especially in his golden years. All it takes is one major error by Vyshinsky--real or imagined--and you just might have Stalin ranting "Oh, you stupid fuckup! Molotov never would have let me down like that!"
And if, as you're suggesting below, Stalin's grasp on power slips away, all bets are off. Hell, recall that Molotov returned to the head of the Foreign Ministry the day Stalin died and hung on for four years. Stalin's successor could get to thinking "Hmm, when Molotov ran the Foreign Ministry we won a war and everyone wanted to be in our alliance. Now that he's gone, we're losing a war and a hell of a lot of countries are lining up to fight us." Turtle Fan (talk) 04:55, January 13, 2015 (UTC)
Circling back to who succeeds Stalin, I thought Beria as a successor to Stalin was a long shot (in OTL, it's pretty clear that NOBODY was going to follow Beria), but now we know that Stalin jumps in with both feet. If things start going south, then maybe Beria launches a coup, and once Stalin is safely disposed of, perhaps there's a counter-coup led by, I don't know, Voroshilov (because it's still fucking Beria-NOBODY's gonna follow him). TR (talk) 22:34, January 12, 2015 (UTC)
That honestly hadn't occurred to me. I have to admit I'm a bit out of my depth trying to guess who would have been in position to seize power in the 50s. Whoever it is, I desperately hope we get a POV there, historical or fictional. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:55, January 13, 2015 (UTC)

One other thing that has jumped out at me in this summary--ML4E pointed out one of the summaries linked above described this as a trilogy. However, nothing in this official summary suggests that. In fact, nothing in the summary suggests that this is a series at all, save for the references to "The Hot War". This leave me a little nervous. HT's recent output suggests that series defined from the outset as limited (such as trilogies) work better than longer indeterminate works (which TWPE did eventually become). TR (talk) 23:09, January 14, 2015 (UTC)

Hmm, yes, that is something new to worry about. It would be easy for him to think "This is such a rich POD I should leave it wide open at this stage and see where it takes me." Easy for him to do so, but worrisome based on his record the last few years. Also, that kind of undisciplined plotting probably makes it even likelier that he'll fall back on his usual tropes of bland worm's-eye-view POVs going through ruthlessly repetitive scenes. When there's no destination in mind, the temptation to stick with your usual habits to keep the journey going can be overwhelming. Turtle Fan (talk) 00:37, January 15, 2015 (UTC)

Kirkus review[]

Here [4].  TR (talk) 05:20, May 16, 2015 (UTC)

Curious. I will say that the first thing that sprung to mind, was he's going to do another World War type scenario, where the majority of fighting is done by armies, but nukes are dropped in retaliation for whatever. I can see that with the USSR striking cities in Britain, France and Germany, starting World War 3. The characters don't really jump out and grab me. We've seen them all before, like Lt. Cade Curtis who I keep seeing as Jonathan Moss in GW2, and Seattle housewife Marian Staley hasn’t seen her husband for more than a year. Peggie anyone? I do hope that Harry goes a littler further with them and the idea of an escalating atomic war could actually make it work.

A Harry troupe that I've notice is that he likes to portray the war as spinning out of everyone's control to the point were no one knows were it's going to land. He did it rather well in World War but failed in GW2 and TWTPE were the series itself felt like it was doing that.  With just three books to work with, I hope he makes it work this time.  Harry takes liberties with historical subject matter for the sake of entertainment, but he my own personal experience has left me with less than no faith in him.  If TR is right and Joe Steel was a step in the right direction, then Harry is a step closer to making me eat my own words.

One last thing is that people may argue that Harry will bash Truman with the stupid stick for dropping multiple bombs, considering how easily he's had people change their mind, but depending how he writes the scene by portraying Truman worrying about the future and what people will say about him. Seeing how he ordered the bombs on Japan and showing him wrestling with the idea of going through all that again. People might be whiling – and I hope – to cut him some slack. If the gamble doesn't pay off, I guarantee that will be the prime piece of criticism they will have.Mr Nelg (talk) 12:37, May 16, 2015 (UTC)

One thing in retrospect regarding TWPE that, in my opinion, was a missed opportunity was the US-Soviet war against Japan. HT could   have given us something, maybe a short epilogue where the Americans and Russians meet a la the meeting at the Elbe, anything. That makes me think this series won't be all that stellar either. JudgeFisher (talk) 05:43, May 31, 2015 (UTC)
I'm still perplexed as to why Stalin would go directly to attacking NATO. I'm certainly not suggesting that European lives are worth more than Asian, but at the same time, in the Cold War everyone knew that Europe was the main prize and that attacks on European targets would be considered more provocative than elsewhere. So the proportional response to hitting China (granted that would upset him more than hitting NK would, he knew Kim Il-Sung was a hothead who was asking for trouble) would be to hit Pakistan or the Philippines or someone line that, then the two superpowers can decide whether to accept a tit-for-tat arrangement or to go ahead with it. Hitting Europe, now, that means, No fucking around, WWIII starts now, baby.
Which means Stalin's running scared. Maybe he fears that the US will develop faster than the USSR and the longer the Cold War drags on, the stronger the American position becomes (which is more or less true from one perspective, using OTL as a guide). Or maybe it's more personal: He knows he'll die soon and he wants to force the issue while he's still got time to be involved.
The characters, I'm inclined to agree with Nelg. All the combatants I'm writing off right now; I've read their scenes several thousand times by now. Yeah, I'm a bit intrigued that someone who was Sieg Heiling a few years ago is fighting for the good guys now, but I have no real expectation that that will have him doing much that scores of other POVs haven't done already. We've seen lonely housewives before, and it looks like this is Peggy Druce skipping right past the whirlwind tour of Europe aflame and going straight to the second half of the series for her, or the Cindy Sheehan clone whose name escapes me (actually I'm a bit surprised I'm able to remember Cindy Sheehan's name, her fifteen minutes of fame ended ages ago) without the politics. What do you want to bet she ends up sleeping with someone and feeling really guilty about it, and if her husband comes back she keeps trying and failing to pretend everything's normal.
The washing machine guy initially reminded me of the hayseed in The Battle of Britain who mistook a friendly Polish pilot for a German, but now that I think of it, a far more Turtledovean parallel would be Rudolf Hess falling into Alistair Walsh's lap.
And by the way--Soviet air raids on America itself? What did they have at this time that could reach the west coast? Something that could carry a nuclear payload? I don't think so. Smaller bombers doing conventional air raids, with MiG escorts? I suppose they could reach Frisco if they launched from Kamchatka--but I also suppose NORAD and several USN carrier groups would be opposing them every inch of the way. Seems like an awfully costly proposition just to turn Frisco into London 1940. Turtle Fan (talk) 02:28, May 18, 2015 (UTC)
The Soviet Tupolev Tu-4 was capable of striking the US West coast, but only for a one-way mission. In fact, I can't help but wonder how the Russian's are able to strike England with Atomics, as when the Tu-4 was first revealed, the RAF and USAAF prepared for such an event using B-29's as supplements as far back as 1948.  You can even view the tests here on YouTube.  As for why the Soviet Union would attack NATO is beyond me. The closest we have is in one of the interviews for the book, Harry states that Uncle Joe's responce is basiclly, “You bomb our allies, we'll bomb yours.” The only thiing that makes sense is what SJ said that Stalin is worried, and that he'd probably listen to some hot-head general who pretty much says, "A, we've got the bomb while Europe dosen't, and B, our forces are still vastly greater than NATO, so let's go for gold." The more I think about it, the more that I think Harry will spend the first novel building up to WW3 rather than just throwing us into it. My guess is that the first book will focus of smaller theaters like Indochina and Korea, before concluding with all out war, and if the USSR strikes American soil then that's all she wrote.Mr Nelg (talk) 11:22, May 18, 2015 (UTC)
Here's a review at Publisher's Weekly, which is more critical than the Kirkus one. It does review Seattle gets hit right off the bat.[5] TR (talk) 17:30, May 18, 2015 (UTC)
So now Stalin's nuking the US itself? Geez. So much for Nelg's prediction of a slow start.
My only logical guess would be Truman nukes Manchuria -> Stalin nukes W. Europe -> Truman nukes any Soviet city or two or three -> Stalin nukes Seattle and/or San Fran.JudgeFisher (talk) 05:32, May 31, 2015 (UTC)
At least we can assume that, if the housewife's a refugee, she won't spend all her scenes washing dishes and chiding herself for thinking about how cute the milkman is. Then again, after Supervolcano, even that might not be a safe assumption.
If Supervolcano is a guide, then the housewife will be feeling self loathing for giving blowjobs to some lowly camp official in exchange for special treatment and better accommodations. ML4E (talk) 17:45, May 19, 2015 (UTC)
Maybe the housewife has an affair with some Soviet POW doing some labor. It's a trope that's been used before, and HT might pull it out of the proverbial hat.JudgeFisher (talk) 05:32, May 31, 2015 (UTC)
Vanai wound up feeling that way for a spell in Darkness after she saved Brivibas from Spinello (though she went all the way, didn't leave it to just blowjobs). Those scenes were actually fairly poignant. Somehow I don't imagine HT would be able to match that. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:04, May 21, 2015 (UTC)
I am however pleased to hear that we're leapfrogging from combat scene to strategy session to military briefing. If nothing else, that would seem to imply it won't be an entirely bug's-eye-view affair as TWTPE was. Turtle Fan (talk) 02:31, May 19, 2015 (UTC)
"But the chaotic, seemingly plotless narrative is less than satisfying to any reader who wants a dramatic payoff to all this old-school shock and awe." Maybe, maybe not. ML4E (talk) 17:45, May 19, 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, but even if so, it's got to be more nearly satisfying than getting the same result by leapfrogging from combat scene to combat scene to combat scene.
Or maybe HT will have some of his soldiers go on liberty and spend a few days drinking and whoring. That would be new. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:04, May 21, 2015 (UTC)
      Hopefully I'm guilty of reading too much into the blurbs again but based on them I am very much afraid this will be tripe like  "The irony of throwing an incendiary device named after the Soviet foreign minister was not lost on Gustav Hozzel" and "Boris Grebov begrudgingly had to admit to himself his Tupolev wouldn't make it this far without stolen capitalist pig technology." I also wonder if the Maytag Man capturing the Soviet pilot will turn into something like the "Russkies" or "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are coming!" and they have a koomba-ya moment realizing we're more alike than different, and I too have tools like you and fix my tractor on the weekends like you fix your Chevy. Again, I hope not, but I've been proven wrong wayyyy too many times.JudgeFisher (talk) 05:43, May 31, 2015 (UTC)

Steven Silver's review[]

For those who are interested. Nothing terribly different from the other reviews, save for the clear point that the civilian POVs appear to be numerous than the military ones. That could be a good thing, with the substantial use of nukes. Oh, and Harbin is the first city hit. That's a new detail. TR (talk) 18:53, June 4, 2015 (UTC)

It sounds like Harbin is the only city that's hit, if I'm reading correctly. I would have assumed it would be part of the first strike, but the entirety of that strike? They don't even bother with Pyongyang? That's . . . interesting. Sounds like Truman may have thought Stalin would be more likely to overlook a one-city-at-a-time approach than a larger opening salvo.
Otherwise, "[I]t will be interesting to see Turtledove set this multi-viewpoint war novel apart from the battle sequences of past series" is what I'm most excited for. The same old combat scenes repeated over and over in TWTPE were simply intolerable when you realized you'd already read the exact same thing in TL-191, Worldwar, DoI, and, more or less, Darkness. Turtle Fan (talk) 21:12, June 4, 2015 (UTC)
The Russian civilian cleaning up Harbin might be interesting. Is he a White refugee pressed into service or is he coming from the USSR? I'm assuming the bomb is low yield so it won't be a Chernobyl type situation where people are suffering permanent effects from minimal exposure.JudgeFisher (talk) 04:53, June 7, 2015 (UTC)
Mm, not sure that's a safe assumption. Maybe Stalin decides to fill up a work detail with dispensable or undesirable people like gulag prisoners to clean it up. Maybe Mao does the same thing with a White Russian, though 1951 is a bit early for it. Human rights watchdogs say the large-scale reeducation labor camps didn't open till 1955.
Then again, this was three years before Castle Bravo, so any bomb would be comparatively low-yield when stacked up against what came later. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:00, June 9, 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, I wish we knew more. At this point in time there are still lots of German and Japanese prisoners of war who were utilized to build many projects and buildings all over the USSR and some even stayed in the USSR. That could have been interesting too, say a Stalingrad POW on clean up duty. JudgeFisher (talk) 02:24, June 11, 2015 (UTC)
Ooh, yes, that would be an angle worth pursuing. Turtle Fan (talk) 16:34, June 11, 2015 (UTC)

Reader reviews and such[]

At Good Reads, here. According to one review, Truman appears to be a POV throughout. Now I'm looking forward to this book a hell of a lot more. TR (talk) 16:44, June 12, 2015 (UTC)

I don't have time to go through them now, but . . . what an interesting thought.
I wonder why none of the other reviewers mentioned that? Talk about burying the lead! Turtle Fan (talk) 19:48, June 12, 2015 (UTC)

First 85 pages[]

Excerpt of the first 85 pages (including copyright, frontspiece, etc, so it's more like 80 pages of text) available here. TR (talk) 18:49, June 15, 2015 (UTC)

Damn, that's close to a fifth of the book. And to think, it wasn't that long ago that we were chomping on the bit for the first two scenes of an upcoming book when the previous year's installment was re-released as a paperback.
I haven't even gotten around to the GoodReads reviews yet, so this will be a while. Turtle Fan (talk) 20:08, June 15, 2015 (UTC)
Well, I'll let that cat out of the bag (or I did when edited the template): Truman is a POV throughout, and not just a one-off in the prologue like Hitler in HW. TR (talk) 20:30, June 15, 2015 (UTC)
Glad to hear it. And I'd imagine he'll spend some time with his family and various close advisers and maybe friends, and at least reflect on the role that this one and that one has played in his life, so we should get plenty of new historicals out of him. That is the point of the exercise, isn't it? Turtle Fan (talk) 20:39, June 15, 2015 (UTC)
Well, there might be an interesting story there, too.:)
I don't know if Truman as POV will prevent THW from having ALL of the problems of TWPE, but it will most likely address the biggest one I personally had with TWPE-no bigger picture. TR (talk) 19:32, June 16, 2015 (UTC)
I'd had the same thought. This is welcome.
I skimmed the first chapter last night, that was all I had time for. What struck me was how easily everyone's minds snapped back to WWII despite the six years since. Granted, most people's wartime experiences were a good deal more memorable than what had happened in the intervening years, and even if not, the end of WWII had completely defined the world they were living in at that point (I want to read Ian Buruma's Year Zero at some point so I can have a comprehensive list of all the ways in which that was true). So it is fitting and proper that they'd be doing this at the start of the book.
On top of that, though, it felt quite necessary for me as a reader. HT's gone back to the well of WWII so very many times that, if he's going to move on to something else, particularly something set shortly thereafter, I'm going to need a retrospective to cleanse my palate before making that jump. Turtle Fan (talk) 01:50, June 18, 2015 (UTC)

The Look Inside feature at Amazon is working. The number of pages available is VERY limited, so it's hard to get a read on much of what's going. It does look as if Joseph McCarthy has a somewhat prominent role. Hopefully, that's not too much foreshadowing for the 1952 election...TR (talk) 18:25, June 21, 2015 (UTC)

Ooh, that sounds exciting. And while a McCarthy presidency is the stuff of nightmares, it would make for interesting reading. He can't be any worse than Steele . . . can he? Turtle Fan (talk) 03:15, June 22, 2015 (UTC)

Kindle downloaded last night[]

I've been plugging along on a slow day. I'm about half-way through. Definitely a much stronger work than HW, thus far. Surprising dearth of new world leaders, given Truman's POV status. The Historicals will grow - several oblique "governor of [US State] [did something]" type references. As you might expect, our Historical Characters Who Died Sooner Than In OTL page will also grow. TR (talk) 02:19, July 15, 2015 (UTC)

I just got back from the library; I leave on a long trip two weeks from tomorrow, and since they lend new books for fourteen days, that just fits my schedule. Unfortunately, they don't have their copy yet. I picked up Book 10 of Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series instead; though it's taken me nearly three years, I'll finally be caught up on that series (which I've begun to suspect the author intends to continue till the Grim Reaper cuts it short). I'll check the library when I get back, sorry I can't be involved in the initial write-up. As always, I don't mind being spoiled. Turtle Fan (talk) 20:29, July 15, 2015 (UTC)
I put the book on reserve as soon as it appeared on the Library Catalog. It now shows "In Transit" rather than "On Order" which means I'll probably get a copy for a three week load sometime next week. I have read the first two chapters from a copy I browsed in a bookstore. Looks good. Incidentally, the first scene where Truman meets MacArthur appears in the back of the TPB of Last Orders. ML4E (talk) 19:57, July 16, 2015 (UTC)
That's what I usually do, but they thought it would most likely come when I was away, and if I don't check it out within two days of their notifying me that they're holding it, they'll just release it. Or give it to the next person in line, if there is one. Turtle Fan (talk) 23:12, July 16, 2015 (UTC)

Ok, finished it last night. No spoilers for now, just broad criticisms.

I think HT was aware of criticisms of TWPE, as he seems to have tried to address them here: with Truman as a POV, the bigger global picture is much clearer. The POVs are more civilian than combat troops, which gives the reader a much better idea of how extensive the war actually is. The only conventional combat sequences are in Germany and Korea. Everything else is aerial bombardment and people living with the fallout. There aren't many opportunities for parallelism, so things are largely unpredictable.

That's a relief. Turtle Fan (talk) 23:12, July 16, 2015 (UTC)

One big criticism is that after the initial Korean focus, the book becomes very Eurocentric quickly, and Korea is reduced to a backwater. Some of that is because the US's supply-line is fucked up, whereas China can keep the pressure up. There aren't any native Southeast Asian POVs; there are two Americans in Korea and the White Russian in China, but we don't have any Koreans or Chinese proper.

Weird. I know of course that control of Europe was the main prize in the Cold War, but it's very disappointing that HT would overlook everything else. Turtle Fan (talk) 23:12, July 16, 2015 (UTC)

As I said above, not many world leaders are named, which caught me off guard. Kim is named, but not Rhee. Adenauer is named, but not Ulbricht. The only European communist leader name-dropped aside from Stalin is Matyas Rakosi of Hungary. Attlee is called by title, as is Vincent Auriol. Alben Barkley doesn't even get that much (not that he's a world leader exactly, but still you'd think as Truman is growing aware of his own mortality, he'd spare a thought for his likely successor). Also, for some reason, HT decided to name a minor fictional character after Klement Gottwald, the leader of Czechoslovakia, and no one remarks on it. Now there is one leader who I'll refrain from spoiling at the moment; he was kind of a nifty surprise, and is the first HoS at from his particular region of the world to appear at our little project here.

I definitely ended the book looking forward to the next volume and wishing it was already next year, which is something I haven't really experienced since TBS. While this is supposed to be a trilogy, the course of the war is such that I think actual fighting will be done by the end of volume 2, and most or all of volume 3 will be given over to the peace. TR (talk) 18:37, July 16, 2015 (UTC)

I would like to see HT pay some proper attention to postwar matters. He hasn't really done so since he wrapped up Derlavai, eleven years ago now. Turtle Fan (talk) 23:12, July 16, 2015 (UTC)
He sort of did with IatD. The second half was immediate post-war although I take it you mean longer term consequences. That would be pretty good. ML4E (talk) 18:15, July 17, 2015 (UTC)
Eh, sort of. But that was only about a third of the book, only went a few months forward, and was more about giving characters a fitting sendoff (which is also important at the end of such a long series) than giving us a wider geopolitical picture. It was all pretty general. Turtle Fan (talk) 20:18, July 17, 2015 (UTC)
Evidence! the series will continue. ML4E (talk) 20:20, July 17, 2015 (UTC)
Yeah. I wonder if a more extensive finish might have spared us all that nonsense these past eight years. Turtle Fan (talk) 02:11, July 18, 2015 (UTC)
I doubt it. Too many people wedded to that series going forever. (In fairness, 11 years is a long time.)
That having been said, I'll take an IatD level denouement over whatever the hell it was we got with LO.
FWIW, HT writes a pretty solid scene of lonely introspection for Truman, where he realizes that, for the moment, at least, he's probably unelectable come '52, and he contemplates his options. It seemed a minor bit of foreshadowing. TR (talk) 04:04, July 18, 2015 (UTC)

I picked up my reserved copy from the library last night and have read the first hundred pages. Looks pretty good so far. All I have to add is we will be categorizing another dozen or so nuked cities. ML4E (talk) 19:30, July 22, 2015 (UTC)

Reading It Now[]

I got the one copy of BA that was ordered by my town's library (incidentally, they classified it as Fiction rather than Science Fiction, even though publishers, reviewers, bookstores, and websites all seem to be calling it sci fi as usual). I'm a little more than halfway through at the moment, having finished fifteen chapters. Some initial thoughts:

The Toronto library system also classified it (along with Joe Steele and MWtIH) as Fiction rather than SF that they did with most of Turtledove's works. ML4E (talk) 21:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)
Maybe they don't consider this one to be sufficiently AH-ish to cross the line into Sci Fi? But they called TWTPE sci fi, and that POD was closer to OTL than this one. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
  • Much as we criticize the repetitive nature of HT's formula, it makes for extremely readable prose, at least after you've been conditioned to it for many years. I find it the soul of ease to bite off large chunks of these books, especially since HT's switched from six-scene chapters to four. I can't remember exactly when he made that change.
  • I like that HT has rediscovered the balance between military and civilian POVs, and now that he has I'm afraid I've realized that I've been a bit unfair to him in recent years. We complained about the imbalance caused by too many front-liners in TWTPE, and we complained about how much of Supervolcano was taken up with POV characters' personal crises rather than the series' overall premise. Well, it's hard to find things for home front POVs to do that advance the plot of the series. Aaron Finch was swept up in one of the book's momentous events and found a prominent role to play. Good for him. It would strain credibility past the breaking point to have the same thing happen to him four or five more times in such a short period, and to have the English bar owner and the White Russian pharmacist (I'm still learning their names) find similarly serendipitous situations for themselves. Of course, front line POVs can also struggle to find meaningful ways to contribute to the story (Pete McGill comes to mind right off the bat, and of course Julius Lemp even more so) and their situations generally allow for less in the way of flavor. The key is to make the characters' personal stories interesting enough that we don't mind spending so much time dealing with their immediate concerns while the world war simmers for a bit, and thus far HT has done a far better job of this with the new cast of POVs than he did with the TWTPE crowd.
Yeah, I agree with this. Admittedly, this is all a matter of personal taste, but here our tastes over lap. We have civilians, we have ground-pounders, we have Truman, and the novel feels better for it. Oh, and as a heads up: One of those civilian POVs is going to be a front-line POV next volume. You can probably guess which one. Hopefully, this person winds up somewhere other than Germany. TR (talk) 16:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)
No big surprise there. As you say, I hope he does something more interesting, but the Red Army appears to be in a one-front war (maybe one and a half, if you want to consider their invasion of northern Italy separately from their invasion of West Germany). Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
There's also Austria. It occurred to me that, given Ihor's injuries, he might be better used on occupation detail rather than in combat. However, given how the Red Army did things, I expect he'll be in the meat grinder in Germany. Fingers crossed, but I think you're right. TR (talk) 15:40, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
It would be nice to get a POV on occupation duty for an extended period. We've had many characters do that when there wasn't an active front elsewhere (including the POV in, umm, "Occupation Duty") but never someone holding down the fort during a bigger war, not for any length of time (except Bembo, who wasn't actually a soldier at all). It would be a welcome change of pace. And yes, it's the kind of duty that a sensible commander would assign to someone with a limp. But I doubt it will happen. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:41, August 21, 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm quite disappointed by Truman. The value of having a high-ranking POV is that we can really work through the decision-making processes that frame the conditions on the ground for the other characters. That's what Featherston did. That's what Atvar did. That's what Rathar did, and so on. But the only time we've really walked through Truman's decision-making process was in his first scene when he authorized MacArthur to use the bomb; and we already knew how that decision was going to be reached, because we'd read the dust jacket flap. In some of his subsequent scenes, Truman still reaches decisions, but we engage with them so superficially that all they really provide is a priori exposition: We're told that a certain place will be bombed, and in the next scene, it's been bombed. Given that most bombing targets are knocked off by exposition with so little ceremony, there's really nothing special about hearing it from Truman as opposed to anyone else. And Truman also has entire scenes where he does nothing but reflect on the ramifications of the war he's started. These can be poignant (though less so than similar scenes HT has written, like the ones where Atvar would look at the hologram of the Crusader in the first scenes of most of the Worldwar books), but really don't serve much function story-wise.
Obviously this one is also a matter of personal taste. I don't know where you are in things, like if you've made it to Truman's foreign trip or not. I did wish we'd had more interaction between Truman and various ambassadors or foreign ministers. On the other hand, I did like those moments of introspection, and his phone calls to Marshall were also pretty good. It did occur to me that Marshall would be a logical POV replacement if Truman dies prematurely. TR (talk) 16:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)
I was of two minds with Marshall. He provided a good foil to Truman, though he wasn't terribly interesting as characters go. If that's HT's interpretation of his character, I don't think he'd make much of a POV.
It's also a bit worrisome that Truman appears to have only one confidante. That's never a good sign in a leader. Besides, Truman's the man who created the National Security Council, and not once in six months of a world war does he call a meeting?
Otherwise, I did find his scenes a bit better toward the end. The state visit to Panama and the news broadcast that quoted McCarthy were my favorites. The former just reminded me, though, that he's acting awfully unilaterally. Yeah, I know that American politicians in the first half of the twentieth century generally didn't think much of Latin American leaders like Arias, but why isn't he coordinating strategy with Atlee and de Gaulle? Or Chiang or even (and I would have thought this was obvious, but I guess not) Rhee? He rightly points out that Taft's isolationism would be deadly dangerous at a time like this, but he doesn't seem all that interested in strengthening a proper alliance system himself. And you don't win a world war if you're not in a strong alliance; look at the Kaiserreich. (Then again, Stalin doesn't seem to have much interest in putting any meaning in the empty slogan "fraternal socialist states"). Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)

Just a thought here.  Since there are two more books coming, Harry might be saving something like the allies coordinated strategy  for the end of book 2 or even the beginning of book 3.  From the sounds of things, HT seems to have more of a solid grip on things compared to TWTPE. I believed that in 'Last Orders' that the European allies, with the help of American equipment would launch a ww2 equivalent of the Hundred Days Offensive with the allies pushing all the way, or at least close too, Hamburg.Mr Nelg (talk) 03:32, August 21, 2015 (UTC)

I suspect that there is strategy coordination going on, unseen, in Germany. But since the US is the only NATO member with atomics, that part is going to be unilateral, save for those occasions where a foreign leader begs the US not to use the bomb, as Adenauer did. Hopefully, as the atomic supply dwindles, we'll see more sit downs with various people. TR (talk) 15:40, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
I'm sure they're coordinating strategy offstage, but what point to a high-ranking POV if not to do those things on stage?
By the way, when this project was announced I would have been prepared to swear that Britain was already a nuclear power by 1951. HT's right, they didn't have it at the POD; their first successful test was in October of 1952. I still find that very strange: they were up to their eyeballs in the Manhattan Project, why did it take so long after that? Turtle Fan (talk) 04:41, August 21, 2015 (UTC)
I though the way he did it in Joe Steele worked better. There he had Charlie Sullivan as the POV near the point of power but not actually having any authority himself. Having Marshall take over from Truman might work well. ML4E (talk) 21:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)
Well I mentioned Rathar above; when he was on the field or in HQ, his word was law, but when Swemmel summoned him to court he shrank down from a whale to a tadpole. Molotov had a similar dynamic in Worldwar when he dealt with Swemmel's real-world inspiration. In Col he was top man on the totem pole, but in dealing with the Lizards his only options were maintain solidarity with Warren/Stassen and Himmler/Kaltenbrunner/Dornberger (easier said than done, especially with Kaltenbrunner) or place himself at a disadvantage. Plus he had to keep looking over his shoulder at Beria and Zhukov. Meanwhile, Atvar was in charge throughout Worldwar (not counting the scene where Straha's confidence vote was carried out) but was coequal with the other fleetlord (whose name escapes me) in Col and had to answer to Risson in HB. In fact, I believe he wound up calling Sam Yeager "superior sir" at one point. And while Flora was close to the center of the US government in SA, her dealings with Smith/LaFollette were mostly one-way, as in "Here's the administration's policy, are you on board?" When she wasn't she found ways of making her displeasure known, but only through brinksmanship and threats of using her literal nuclear option. And she never got closer to Powell House than FDR, whose title of undersecretary means there was a second figure between her and the President.
HT's done it both ways, and both have their points. I was hoping to see more of the inner monologue of leadership than we did, though. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
  • Then there's the other leader whose decisions frame the story, and he's as enigmatic in this book as he was in real history. I know we've talked about the danger of using the word "implausibility" as a catch-all for kvetching about any element of an AH story that doesn't make sense to a particular reader, and I'm trying to make a conscious effort to avoid falling into that. But I really don't understand him. We know from his radio address following the initial salvo on the Western European cities that he was trying to keep a tit-for-tat situation going; but he can't have been naive enough to think that hitting France and the UK would allow him to do so. There's this critical difference: the PRC was making war against US forces. West Germany, France, and the UK were at peace with the USSR. The latter two were fighting against Soviet-backed guerrilla forces (the Viet Minh and the MNLA, respectively). Bombs against Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur (and even against Manila; the USSR was backing the Huks at this time as well) would send a strong message, but since decolonization was slowly but surely coming to Indochina, Malaya, and the Philippines, their on-the-way-out-the-door overlords could accept it as a proportional payback for Harbin, if they so chose. But bombs in Western Europe were always going to be impossible to ignore, and I can't imagine Stalin didn't realize this. Unless he was lying? Maybe he wanted the world to think he was confining himself to proportional retaliation, but was in fact being a provocative as possible?
A number of historians argue that nearly all of Stalin's behavior leading up to World War II (the purges, the collectivization, the attendant deaths) while on paper suggests the work of a paranoid lunatic, in fact represent very cold-blooded pragmatist. Stalin wanted to create a new nation and wanted to make Marxism work (as well as cement his own power), and if that required a lot of deaths, so be it. This mindset is hardly unique to Stalin--St. Petersburg is built on a swamp and has more than a few serfs and prisoners of war in its foundations, not because Peter the Great wanted to kill peasants en masse, but because he was going to have his sea port, goddammit. Likewise, Stalin was going to have his Marxist-Leninist state, goddammit.
However, even those who champion this point of view admit that in his last years, particularly from 1950 or so on, it's really hard to see just what the hell Stalin is planning on doing; he seems to have become just paranoid and out of touch, and the pragmatism has vanished. A few people think the Doctor's Plot was the foundation for Holocaust-redux, other's think that this was going hand in hand with maybe some direct attack on the West, etc.
I point this out because between this and JS, I think HT subscribes to this interpretation of Stalin. So yeah, I think we are meant to understand that Stalin really honestly believed that this endeavor would end in Soviet victory simply because he was unable to imagine defeat, as he was in his less than stable twilight years.
My 2 cents. TR (talk) 16:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)
You make a good case. It's a shame, though. "Parts of this story won't make sense because one of the most important characters doesn't quite have his head on straight" is . . . not my preference as far as artistic choices go. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
  • HT killed off a POV (the Hungarian soldier) right away! Usually he saves that for the final chapters, at least in the first book of a series. I'm guessing that, as he wrote the relevant scenes, he quickly realized that the other Hungarian soldier, the Jewish one, offered more storytelling potential? If so, why not go back and rewrite those scenes from the Jew's perspective? It couldn't have taken much. Still, the mild shock value of having a POV killed so early was interesting. (Obviously I had not yet formed an emotional attachment to the character. Even Stephen Ramsey was around long enough for me to decide I disliked him, but this poor bastard never got even that much.)
Another heads up--another POV bites the dust before the end.
When I read that I thought you probably meant Staley (Yasevich was my other guess, but Staley was first). And I really hoped I was wrong. :( Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
My response to Tibor's death (aside from trying to make some sort of Simpsons-related joke) was, "that happened. Didn't see that coming. Oh, well." As for why HT waxed Tibor and promoted Isztvan, rather than just rewrite Tibor's scenes with Isztvan, two thoughts: 1) It plays into HT's ongoing theme of war is hell and death is random and shocking; 2) The second POV death is that much more shocking as a result. I've grown used to HT killing his maximum one POV death in The First Volume of the Series. Once Tibor was gone, I figured we'd settle into our little group of characters until volume 2. Instead, this new death takes place, and it's just that much more out of left field, adding to the horror of watching a character I'd grown reasonably attached to die in a fairly gruesome manner. TR (talk) 16:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)
I agree with TR, it gives the novel an unexpected shake-up so its not as predictable to the long time HT reader. ML4E (talk) 21:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)
Now that I've read the whole book, I agree. As for Isztvan, I hope he either defects to NATO soon or shuts up about it. We don't need another endless "Should I or shouldn't I?" a la Clarence Potter. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
I hope so, too. Or he could just get killed off and the sergeant could replace him. Either way. TR (talk) 15:40, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
It would be odd to go through the same POV slot with three different members of the same squad in the first book and change.
By the way, I kind of miss the days when dead POVs were always replaced by someone with some relationship to them. It still works that way a lot of the time (Tibor to Isztvan, of course) but you also get plenty of out-of-left-field replacements (Staley to Hozzel's wife) that, I don't know, just kind of bug me. I mean, it would be one thing if the story were passing a certain community by (as when the uprising in Rosenfeld was crushed in TG and the McGregors were finally beaten into submission) and you needed a set of eyes to take you in a new direction, but the out-of-the-blue replacement is rarely all that unique. (For instance, in the Mary McGregor example, we got Michael Pound, who didn't offer anything that a dozen other POVs already had covered.) Mrs Hozzel might have something interesting to show us as the citizen of an occupied country, but even if she does, I still can't help thinking it's bad form. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:41, August 21, 2015 (UTC)
  • I'd been intrigued by the prospect of having a US soldier trapped behind the lines in North Korea as a POV. I was hoping we could explore Korea with him for awhile. But it only took him two or three scenes to get back to safety, and now he's just another infantry POV. Oh well. I do appreciate that the persecuted Christian community in the DPRK was featured in such a prominent and positive role.
Yeah, that resolved itself a little too quickly for my tastes, but since Korea becomes tertiary, I guess getting him back to American lines safe and sound was probably the most economical story choice. TR (talk) 16:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)

To me, it sounds like the reason might be that Harry doesn't understand too much about Korea or he felt that he was repeating himself with Jonathan Moss.Mr Nelg (talk) 03:32, August 21, 2015 (UTC)

I doubt it's the latter, he's repeated plenty of character arcs before. As to the former, you may be right, though I don't see why brushing up on wartime Korea should tax his research skills any more than any number of other settings he's done a decent job of realizing over the years. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:41, August 21, 2015 (UTC)
Eh, I guess. And it's good to have a man in the US forces in Asia to keep us apprised of how that goes now that attention's shifting elsewhere. I wish we had a Chinese POV to balance him out. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
  • Lots and lots of name-dropping of historical figures. We'll be able to cook up quite a few new articles, and to expand some short ones as well.
Name and title drops. We'll get the sitting governors of Washington and Oregon, for example. They aren't referenced by name, but they are referenced by their titles. TR (talk) 16:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)
And Joe Gordon once again gets a mention in a character's first scene in the first book of a new series. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
We will also get a number of new cities destroyed by atomic bombs. Is there any value in creating sub-cats for those destroyed in the Race Invasion, the Race-German War and now in the Hot War? ML4E (talk) 21:45, August 17, 2015 (UTC)
I would put the Race Invasion and the Race-German War cities in together, since they're part of the same continuity. But it wouldn't be a bad idea to do separate lists. I believe TL-191 would support one as well. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
I'm leaning towards more story specific subcats, myself. TR (talk) 15:40, August 20, 2015 (UTC)

That's all for now. I'm enjoying the book overall. Naturally, all the impressions I've listed above are subject to change as I read the rest of it. Turtle Fan (talk) 03:56, August 17, 2015 (UTC)

I liked the book and find it a promising start to a new series. The premise is interesting, and HT's definitely the man to do a solid job of a war that includes liberal uses of atomic weapons but doesn't descend into MAD. I was a bit disappointed that the situation escalated so quickly, and I hope that the breadth of both the war and the story increases next year: It's a world war, you've got to give us more than two fronts.
The cast of characters mostly seems to correct the problems that kept hamstringing TWTPE: As of yet there really doesn't seem to be anyone who's got nothing worthwhile to do, and they tend to have interesting personalities. (The one who comes closest to struggling in both those areas is Marian Staley: the only thing that kept me going through a lot of her scenes was the chance to get Favyl Tabakman's take on what they were experiencing. And in a third-person limited narrative format, if I only care about a POV because she interacts with another, more interesting character, I very quickly start wishing the other character were the POV instead.)
There were a handful of little things I found odd. For instance, why did the Bulls that bombed the West Coast spare Vancouver and Victoria? And, having been spared, why aren't those cities picking up the slack from the lost American ports? Canada was part of both NATO and the UNC created by Resolution 83, it's not in their interest to sit this out.
We know that Newfoundland got hit, so Canada isn't quite sitting things out. Again, a detail HT will hopefully revisit later in the series. TR (talk) 15:40, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
Oh yeah, Newfoundland. So that eliminates the last possible doubt that Canada was a combatant. So why aren't they supplying UNC forces out of Vancouver? I can think of two reasons: the Soviets did hit Vancouver, and no one mentioned it; or after Newfoundland, Canada made a separate peace. Because really, being allied with the US wasn't such a great thing in this book: Moscow saw you as a convenient and attractive target for vicarious revenge, and the US Armed Forces weren't nearly as much help as you'd have counted on when you signed the treaty that made you an American ally. Members of NATO seeking to drop out of the war would be a fascinating development; but it's really the sort of thing that a presidential POV should be reflecting on. (And I do recall that, at some point much later in the book, Truman reflects on how "the US and Canada combined" pose . . . some sort of geographic difficulty to the enemy.) Turtle Fan (talk) 04:41, August 21, 2015 (UTC)
A bit more significant is proofreading. My appetite for nitpicking these books ain't what it used to be, but I did keep finding things that took me out of the story. In one scene, Truman very strongly implies that Molotov is still in office. It's the only scene in the book where the Foreign Commissar is mentioned at all, so HT can neither correct the error nor confirm that he meant it that way.
I reviewed that scene. He really doesn't make such an implication. He remembers one time Molotov said that he (Molotov) had never been talked to the way Truman did after a meeting. HE does say Molotov is good at what he does, but that doesn't mean FC automatically. And it doesn't appear as if he'd quite fallen out of Stalin's favor yet in OTL, so he's probably still visible to the West. TR (talk) 15:40, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
"'He wouldn't be such a blasted nuisance now if somebody had,' Truman said.
"'Probably not. But if he wasn't, Stalin would have found some other son of a bitch to fill that slot instead of him.'"
So at the time they're talking, Molotov holds a position from which he's able to frustrate the US government, one that requires SOB qualities, and while Stalin retains the prerogative of replacing Molotov in that slot, he has not done so. They don't flat out say Foreign Minister, you're right, but I can't imagine they're getting that excited about the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, which was the only post Molotov did hold in 1951. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:41, August 21, 2015 (UTC)
In the same scene, by the way, Truman smokes a cigarette. To the best of my knowledge, he never did that. (In fact, he instituted the White House's first smoking ban.) Meanwhile, in Cade's first scene he says he's never smoked, but once he gets back to the UNC lines he gradually spirals downward into addiction--and implies he's tried it here and there before. Also, in Daisy's first scense she says she's never smoked, but in her last scene she's smoking. And in both scenes she reflects that the inside of the pub is so smoky all the time that she's getting plenty of smoke either way. (Which is of course quite disturbing to twenty-first century sensibilities: We know that second-hand smoke is quite deadly and for the most part thank our lucky stars that the governments of most civilized jurisdictions are slowly but surely making it easier to avoid.)
Googling suggests Truman wasn't a smoker. So unless HT found something that indicates Truman in fact smoked when no one was looking, that and the other smoking errors should go in the errors page. TR (talk) 15:40, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
One scene with Daisy I found especially amusing. She and the WWI vet were talking about him buying salvaged auto parts from the nuked city. She chastises him for not considering the risk to his own health by working with radioactive parts and how someone's work shouldn't put their health at risk. And then, in the next sentence, she lights up. ML4E (talk) 21:26, August 20, 2015 (UTC)
As HT himself would say, that sort of thing would be funny if only it were funny. Turtle Fan (talk) 04:41, August 21, 2015 (UTC)
Now why am I harping on all that? Well, while the TWTPE POVs (with the exception of Peggy toward the end) generally didn't drone on and on about their smoking habits the way their otherwise more interesting TL-191 counterparts so famously did, the smoke-fest of SA left such a deep impression that all these years later that I was intrigued that HT was actually going to give us confirmed non-smokers as POVs. Oh well.
I also picked up on typos (I remember a T-34 being referred to as a T-35, a tank which did briefly see Red Army service in the late 1930s but was obviously not what HT was talking about), things like that. And while I don't come anywhere close to having Mr Nelg's appetite for vehicle and weapons specs, even I had to call bullshit when Bulls made it to Utah and Colorado, no matter how bone-dry their fuel tanks may have been.
But yeah, I'm looking forward to continuing this series, in ways I never was with TWTPE (except for the cruel tease of TBS/CdE). I wouldn't say I'm wishing away the year to get there, but I'm sure I'll come back to the story in my mind every now and then, as I've done for HT's better series. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:08, August 20, 2015 (UTC)