February 28, 2020

Review: Himmler’s War by Robert Conroy

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Historical “What If’s?” often make for great fiction.

What if the South had won Gettysburg? Or if the U.S. had never entered World War I? Or Roosevelt never built the bomb at Einstein’s urging? These are just some alternate histories that are intriguing to consider. Or are we in fact living in an alternate timeline now?

This week’s review of Himmler’s War by Robert Conroy touches on just such a possibility. Out from Baen Books, fans of alternate history fiction will remember Mr. Conroy’s “What If” fiction covering the Pacific theatre of World War II that we reviewed earlier this year entitled Rising Sun. in that work, Japan deals the United States Navy a crippling blow at the Battle of Midway, bringing a Japanese invasion to U.S. shores.

In Himmler’s War, another fascinating possibility is considered, as a wayward bomber crew accidently manages to take out Hitler in a million to one shot. You’d think that would speed up the end of the war in Europe, but problems are just beginning, as the new leaders of the Third Reich scrap Hitler’s bumbling plans and start to wage a smarter war against the encroaching Allies.

Conroy is an expert historian as well as a great story teller, and the homework that went in to putting Himmler’s War together shows. Its been said that Hitler wasn’t in fact a great military tactician, but he was, in the words of my 7th grade history teacher, “a good rabble-rouser.”

Would Germany have been able to press the U.S. and its Allies into a World War I-style trench war stalemate if they’d really tried? Would the development of a German atomic bomb have tipped the balance? The Germans in Himmler’s War were a little further along in the process of making the first fission bomb than they ever were in reality, but the results would’ve been game changing and terrifying.

The U.S. Manhattan Project and the development and deployment of the first two atomic bombs managed to end the war without an invasion of the Japanese mainland.  Luckily, the war ended in Europe before the Germans could produce new super-weapons, such as Von Braun’s V-1 & V-2 rockets as well as jet aircraft, in any great numbers. There were even plans on the drawing board for long range German bombers capable of striking the U.S! The Germans also had a plan to collapse western financial markets by flooding them with counterfeit cash, a plan that was never implemented.

Read Himmler’s War to get a look at a fascinating possibility that never was. The European theatre had three true turning points where the tide of battle turned in favor of the Allies: Stalingrad in Russia, Al Alamein in the desert of Egypt, and the Battle of Britain. Himmler’s War presents us with a fascinating fourth possibility!

Next Week: It’s back to hard science book reviews with our first book of the new school year with Magnificent Principia by Colin Pask.


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