We lost Robert Conroy a while back and his voice in the alternate history genre is missed. The story concept is fairly intriguing – what if Germany fell back to the mythical Alpine Redoubt (Germanica) in WWII rather than surrender. On its own, that is interesting. You have the last bits of the Third Reich hunkering down and waging a war of attrition against the Allies, which is a good premise to build off of. It is a good piece of alternate history, not stunningly great, but not bad.
This is an ensemble story with a cast of characters to give you a lot of perspective as to the conflict. We have a seasoned officer, a grizzled sergeant, a pilot turned OSS spy, a holocaust survivor and a few others designed to round out views of this extended war. There’s a few that stand out. The military characters were the strongest of the mix. You find yourself unsympathetic to the grizzled German troopers that are fleeing into Germanica which I think is a missed opportunity.
In this history, Joseph Goebbels leads the rag-tag remains of the Germany military into the alpine state dubbed Germanica. With him are the German scientists working on the atomic bomb, because everyone writing an alternate history on Germany can’t resist the concept of a Nazi A-Bomb. Fortunately Conroy doesn’t fall back on this as his key lever to the plot. In fact, I found his insertion of it rather refreshing since other authors have covered this ground already.
President Truman struggles with an America that is weary of the war which is just what the Germans are hoping for. I found that less-than-plausible, though Conroy introduces some throwaway characters to justify it. The Swiss are less-than-neutral in this effort, indirectly aiding the Nazi’s.
The only main supporting player I struggled with was Dulles, the spymaster of the OSS in Switzerland. I wrote about the OSS in my book, Lost Eagles. Having researched Dulles at the National Archives II, I can say the way he was portrayed, personally staging missions, just didn’t seem right.
The ending was okay, but it could have been a much more powerful with the proper set-up. I found myself wanting something more dramatic at the end, payout for my reading.
Germanica is a good read. It’s not Conroy’s best, but it was incredibly pleasing to finally pick this book up and devour it. It served to remind me just how much we’ve lost in the alternate writing community of authors. I give it three-and-a-half stars out of five. A solid read – worth adding to your list.