The War That Came Early: Coup d’Etat

Written by Harry Turtledove
Review by Kathryn Johnson

In this fourth installment of Harry Turtledove’s latest series, set during World War II, he asks the same questions that his previous books have asked. “How would world history have changed if key figures had made different critical decisions?” This is what alternative history is all about — and it provides interesting possibilities for the creative novelist.

In The War That Came Early, the sides are scrambled. Germany, England and France are allies, fighting Russia. The United States is fighting only Japan, which is in possession of a horrible secret weapon. We see the story largely through the eyes of ordinary people — soldiers and civilians — and there are a lot of them. If the story has a flaw, it’s the swollen cast, which sometimes makes it difficult for the reader to focus for very long on a favorite character. We leap from one point of view to another, from one country to another, in an attempt to take in the big picture.

But for lovers of alternative history, and particularly for the very popular Turtledove with his appealing weaponry, battle tactics, and setting details, this story will satisfy. It sets out to entertain lovers of wartime stories, and that it does.