Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review: "Shattered World: The Eurasian War" by Bobby Hardenbrook

Grade: B-

One of the earliest works of online alternate history I ever read was Shattered World by Bobby Hardenbrook.  The sporadically updated timeline enthralled my young mind and inspired me to write some timelines of my own (please don't go looking for them).  Recently Bobby removed the Shattered World timeline from the Internet, but made it available through Amazon in the form of six e-books.  Taking advantage of a limited time offer, I downloaded a free copy of The Eurasian War, the first in the series, and enjoyed a moment of nostalgia.

In OTL Germany invaded Poland in 1939, but in this timeline the Soviet Union is the one who invades Poland first, except they did it in 1937.  Bobby explains that in the early 1930s relations between Germany and the Soviet Union cooled dramatically, but he never goes into detail as to why. It was bad enough, however, that by early 1936 Stalin is convinced that Hitler intends to invade Poland and decides to launch a preemptive invasion of his own. The Red Army, already large and formidable, easily pushes aside the Polish defenders and sends Germany into crisis mode.  As both sides prepare for battle, problems in Romania finally provides the excuse for the two powers to go to war.

There are significant changes in how fighting on the eastern front is carried out in this ATL compared to OTL.  First, Hitler does not have the mystical status gained from the early and quick victories Germany had against Western Europe and he has no choice but to take his generals' advice.  Second, the Soviet Union is considered the aggressor in this war, thus there is no "Great Patriotic War" and defending the motherland to the last.  The people are upset with what Stalin and the rest of the communist leadership for getting them into a war that they did not want, and the Germans will take advantage of that.  Finally, the western nations (UK, France and the United States) don't approve of either government, but see the communist Soviet Union as the greater of the two evils.  Germany will receive tacit support from them, even as they learn from the fighting out east and prepare for the inevitable clash with Germany and the rest of the Axis Powers.

Those looking for a novel are going to be disappointed.  As I mentioned before, Shattered World is in the classic timeline format (Day 1 something happens, Day 2 something else happens) and there is no dialogue or character development.  Users of AH.com and the Wiki will be OK with this, but less hardcore alternate historians might find the format difficult to enjoy.  There are also numerous misspellings and typographical ineptitude that distract from the reading.  The number of errors is evidence that Bobby did not seek out the help of an editor before publishing his timeline through Amazon.

Despite what I said above, Shattered World: The Eurasian War still was as an interesting "what if?" and I enjoyed reading it again.  Bobby did take the time to explain some of his more controversial claims in the timeline, though I wished he would have linked to the references he used.  It is an entertaining alternate history that would make a great setting for a novel if Bobby ever goes in that direction.  I look forward to the upcoming book 7, as long as Bobby has someone proofread the story before publishing it.

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Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.

4 comments:

  1. William Peter GrassoMay 3, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    I do wonder how formidable Stalin's forces could be in the chosen time period, considering his purge of generals. There's no doubt he could mass a formidable number of ineptly-led troops, but their OTL capabilities did not coalesce until pushed to the gates of Moscow and Leningrad, and the banks of the Volga.

    The point of the Western allies siding with Germany in that time frame is interesting to consider, though. From the American viewpoint, I suppose much would have depended on how much influence George Kennan's considerable expertise in all things Soviet (and German, for that matter) would have exercised.

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    Replies
    1. In this ATL the purges never happened, though I cannot remember the reason why. I will have to go back and look.

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    2. The real reason the Soviet-Union lost so bad in 1941 is not because of the purges but because there where no defense preparations, the Red Army was preparing for an attack and 85% of ammunition production capabilities where right across the border.
      After this, most of the Red Army Soldiers where greens and the whole thing had to be rebuilt/reorganized.

      Mikhail Meltyukhov shows it in his study Stalin's Missed Chance.

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  2. sounds like a missed opportunity based on an initially sound premise.

    I'd have put the Soviet Invasion in 1938 - since that very nearly happened OTL
    Stalin wanted to use the Munich Crisis to invade Kresy under the guise of sending aid to Czechoslovakia
    Tim Snyder mentions that Stalin began another round of deporting and killing Poles in sensitive border areas to prepare for the invasion of Poland

    ReplyDelete