I have mentioned it several times before in my previous reviews of alternate history novels, but the genre as a whole has a fundamental issue at its heart. An author of alternate history must be able to balance an interesting and unique premise and point of divergence while at the same time not selecting a subject so esoteric that the general reading audience (which in America is woefully historically illiterate) won't be turned off or too bored.
For most alternate history authors, the solution is to pick a point of divergence and timeline that alters some event that is universally understood or known to American audiences, those two tending to be either the American Civil War or the Second World War. This results in these two time periods being the most discussed in the field of alternate history, almost to the point of parody. Even Harry Turtledove, the man widely considered the master of alternate history, has created dozens of stories based on these two time periods, immediately to great effect.
But today's review will cover one of Turtledove's more comparatively recent explorations into a WW2 point of divergence. In 2008's The Man with the Iron Heart, Turtledove explores not a Nazi victory in WW2, but an altogether different, yet even more intriguing question. What if the survival of a single SS officer had enabled the creation of a more unified German resistance to the allied-occupation of Germany after World War 2? What would the impact be on Allied post-war sentiments at home?
These questions and their correlation to more modern wars like the Second Persian Gulf War form the thematic heart of The Man with the Iron Heart and it leaves this stand alone novel as easily one of Turtledove's most intriguing and underappreciated, in my opinion.
- Written by Harry Turtledove
- Published by Del Rey Books
- Available in Hardback & Paperback
- 533 pages (first edition, hardback)