A daring S.A.S. raid takes place hundreds of miles behind enemy lines. An airfield is hit and destroys 39 planes on the ground. These are planes that Rommel can’t afford to lose. He orders the S.A.S. be hunted down and captured or destroyed. So begins a cat and mouse chase across the vast expanse of the Libyan desert. The commandos have to face the grueling heat and lack of water. Along with troops and airplanes out to get them. This includes the elite paratroopers that Rommel sends after them. It all comes to an exciting conclusion.
I saw this on a facebook page and remembered it from my childhood. I remember trying to read this when I was probably nine or ten. I think I was just too young for this. I decided to get it and try it now. After all it has been a while since I read a good WWII book. This was a very good book. The characters and setting seem very authentic. There is the aristocratic captain who has this attitude you would expect from an officer from the time. He looks a bit down on his lieutenant for not attending the proper public school. Yet he will back him up when one of the men accuses him of abandoning him because that is what is expected of him. Officers will always back up other officers. Yet he is a very competent one and has genuine concern for his men. There is the corporal who always smiles to hide his fear. Someone descended from an Italian immigrant who has this love of everything Italian.
Considering that the author was a veteran who served in North Africa it is no surprise that the book seems authentic. Landsborough was a very prolific author and wrote many books including ones set in North Africa. I probably will someday check them out. If you want a realistic WWII story then this is a good book for you.
Roger Two Hawks an Iroquois is a bomber pilot during WWII. During a raid on the oil fields in Romania his bomber is shot down. When he bails out he finds himself not in Romania but some strange foreign land. Yet it is a world that is also fighting a world war. He soon finds himself in an alternate Earth. One where the Americas never existed. The Asian tribes that migrated their instead turned westward and settled in Eastern Europe. So these tribes now have established nations for themselves. The Perkunishans are the Germans of this world and have launched a genocidal war against their neighbors. Blodland is the England of this world and the main opponent to them. Two Hawks soon finds that both factions are out to get him for his knowledge of technological advances from his world. He has many adventures that sees him fall into both factions hands.
This was a really interesting book. Farmer did a lot of research into the various peoples to give us a fascinating look at a world without the Americas. That Eastern Europe is populated by descendants of the tribes that migrated to America seems plausible. There are also no negroid peoples because India is an island and that race never developed. Instead Africa was settled by an Arabic people. There are no horses or camels because these originally developed in the Americas. Only they later became extinct in out world but thrived in Eurasia. There is no rubber so there are no rubber tires for vehicles. It is a world where slavery is still common and ruled by absolute monarchs.
This book was originally written back in 1966 and published under the title The Gate of Time. Farmer states in a foreword he never liked this title because the gateway never dealt with time. That an editor in his words “bowdlerize’ a scene by rewriting it. His original was restored and he wrote an extra 10,000 words for an ending. This ending has Two Hawks after the war finding a portal that brought him to a prehistoric America that had pre-Columbian natives and Two Hawks settling down with dreams of turning them into a modern society.
I loved how this book starts with him giving his story to a writer and you think it is our world. But it turns out to be this world at the end. Also another German also came through and at the end we find out Two Hawks is not from our Earth. When he asks who Hitler is we find out that in his world the Kaiser still rules Germany. Otherwise his world and ours have very similar histories. So if you want a unique alternate history book I would highly recommend this one.
Travis Hunter and his rangers are stationed at base 990. The base is located 990 A.D. in the wilds of America. The purpose is for them to not be caught in any change to history that the VBU would make. This proves to be a good idea as the Soviets have once again changed history. When they can’t contact their base in 2008 a jump to 1991 shows that America is now under the control of the Soviets. Studying a history book they find out the change occurred during the Battle of the Bulge. The German offensive was successful and they were able to get in range and use nuclear bombs to destroy London and the channel ports. The allied armies collapsed and the Soviets were able to roll over all of Europe. The Americans were later able to nuke Japan and win that war but the experience in Europe turned America to an isolationist path. The Soviets manages to take control of the world and in 1956 a brief war further reduced America to poverty. So by the 1970’s a Communist revolution occurred and the Soviets were invited in as peacekeepers.
So now Hunter and his Rangers must go to the Ardennes in December 1944. Disguised as American troops they must stop the Soviets from helping the Germans. All the while they have to survive the Malmedy Massacre and not screw up history so it comes out as it should.
The final book in the series once again has our heroes saving time from the insidious Soviets. The plan to change the outcome with altering the Battle of the Bulge is a sound one. The history is plausible and is written with much attention to historical detail. You learn a lot about the battle from this story just as you do with the other books in the series. A consistently well written and researched series. It kept the rules for time travel that was established consistent and plausible.
Now by 1991 it was obvious that the Soviets weren’t going to conquer the world. On the author’s web page it tells that the final book they wanted to write would have had them travel back to the eighties and save an unknown Soviet apparatchik named Gorbachev from assassination. Thus ensuring that America won the Cold War. That would have fit the current world reality and gave the series a sense of closure. Unfortunately the publisher pulled the plug on the series and book was never written. So we will just have to content ourselves with knowing they succeeded in changing time for the better.
1944 Italy. Joe Beccione is serving in the American Army. Born to Italian immigrant parents in Hell’s Kitchen the tough guy is a good brave soldier but has a problem with discipline. One day a MP jeep hits the young brother of the girl he wants to marry. In his anger he shoots the MP and soon is about to face a firing squad. He escapes and makes his way to a group of renegades. Lead by a German named Franz Kessler the group survives by raiding both Allied and German supply convoys. It is a hodgepodge of deserters and criminals from every nationality. Beccione fits right in with this group. Yet he wonders about Kessler an obviously educated man. A man who can one minute shoot down soldiers but have a sad look in his eyes. A man who is worshiped by the local peasants and he reciprocates in kind. In fact he goes out of his way to help them.
Then they finally find out Kessler’s true purpose. On a mission to liberate stolen valuables in a complex of caves held by the Germans as an artillery position. Soon this village will be the site of a major battle and will destroy the village of Valderosa. Kessler convinces his men to protect the village by fighting off both sides so they can’t occupy it. Now they battle both the Allies and Germans in a big epic battle.
It is hard to write an anti-war war novel but Fredrick Smith manages to do that. Kessler is a pacifist who served in the First World War and lost his brother and father. Later he loses his Jewish wife to a concentration camp. His son in the army and daughter killed in an Allied bombing raid. Stationed in Yugoslavia he witnesses atrocities and is forced to kill to survive. He deserts and forms his own army. One that will exist to protect the civilians that are caught between the armies that are fighting. That he believes foreign armies care little for the civilians and they are the true victims in the war. That all soldiers are in some way to blame. Of course he sees that an Allied victory is the only good outcome. Yet he will fight them to save his beloved peasants. His personality gets his men to fight and die to protect a village. A village at the end that manages to come to the rescue and pay back the survivors. A fascinating book that makes you think.
Fredrick Smith was a RAF gunner on a bomber during WWII. He wrote a successful series called 633 Squadron and some other books. He writes characters that have an interesting backstory and did a lot of research on the war in Italy. Might give some of his other books a try.