When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis
I’m told the author of this book would like to see this volume shelved in history rather than science fiction/alternate history. And it is difficult to call this a novel. It reads like the true history it pretends to be, footnoted and full of the technical (and accurate) lists of weaponry that so delight military history buffs. Except for a vignette or two – a housewife who hand digs a shelter in her back yard to the derision of her neighbors only to have it save her family; the vignettes of the antagonists, Khrushchev and Kennedy, are particularly well drawn – we do not follow characters in a novelistic fashion. The closest we come to this may be the persona of the author, coincidentally the same name as that on the cover, whose family has fled to Australia in the less-damaged southern hemisphere after the dreaded Fire.
None of this leads to dull reading, however. What if the flight that had discovered the Soviet arms on our close Caribbean neighbor in late 1962 had flown two weeks later, when the missiles were already armed? What if a Dr. Strangelove-like Russian had persisted, all communication with his superiors down, in his suicide mission to destroy New Orleans long before Katrina did so? Imagine life in a world where Kennedy’s dream of a man on the moon never materialized, the world far too busy dealing with the – literal – fallout and millions dead. Sobering.