In his acclaimed novels of alternate history, Harry Turtledove has scrutinized the twisted soul of the twentieth century, from the forces that set World War I in motion to the rise of fascism in the decades that followed. Now, this masterly storyteller turns his eyes to the aftermath of World War II and asks: In an era of nuclear posturing, what if the Cold War had suddenly turned hot?
Bombs Away begins with President Harry Truman in desperate consultation with General Douglas MacArthur, whose control of the ground war in Korea has slipped disastrously away. MacArthur recognizes a stark reality: The U.S. military has been cut to the bone after victory over the Nazis—while China and the USSR have built up their forces. The only way to stop the Communist surge into the Korean Peninsula and save thousands of American lives is through a nuclear attack. MacArthur advocates a strike on Chinese targets in Manchuria. In actual history, Truman rejected his general’s advice; here, he does not. The miscalculation turns into a disaster when Truman fails to foresee Russia’s reaction.
Almost instantly, Stalin strikes U.S. allies in Europe and Great Britain. As the shock waves settle, the two superpowers are caught in a horrifying face-off. Will they attack each other directly with nuclear weapons? What countries will be caught in between?
The fateful global drama plays out through the experiences of ordinary people—from a British barmaid to a Ukrainian war veteran to a desperate American soldier alone behind enemy lines in Korea. For them, as well as Truman, Mao, and Stalin, the whole world has become a battleground. Strategic strikes lead to massive movements of ground troops. Cities are destroyed, economies ravaged. And on a planet under siege, the sounds and sights of nuclear bombs become a grim harbinger of a new reality: the struggle to survive man’s greatest madness.
Praise for Bombs Away
“A fascinating and compelling story of real people caught in forces beyond their control . . . [Harry Turtledove is] the unrivaled monarch of alternate history.”—Analog
“Turtledove is an undisputed centerpiece of the alternate-history genre, and now, to his already grand display, he’s adding the ambitious tale of a WWIII that could have happened.”—Booklist
“This is Turtledove at his best.”—SFRevu
“Alternate-world warrior extraordinaire Turtledove delivers the opening barrage of a new speculative conflict.”—Kirkus Reviews
Alternate-history master Turtledove (the War That Came Early series) comes up with another widescreen epic for his latest what-if scenario: it's 1950 and the Chinese have invaded Korea. President Truman retaliates by dropping atomic bombs on strategic targets in Manchuria. Things get quickly out of hand, and Russia begins dropping A-bombs on targets in Europe and the U.S., which turns the Cold War into a hot war after only five years. To illustrate his scenario, Turtledove introduces a wide-ranging cast of one-and-a-half dimensional characters on several continents, including Marian Staley, a housewife with a husband serving in Korea, who must flee with her young daughter after nearby Seattle is nuked; Gustav Hozzel, a WWII veteran who faces Soviet tanks with Molotov cocktails when the Russians invade Germany; and Boris Gribkov, a Russian Tu-4 pilot whose bomber is retrofitted with stolen American recognition technology. The novel leapfrogs from combat scene to strategy session to military briefing and ends on an abrupt note, obviously paving the way for a sequel. 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.