Review of Bombs Away – Harry Turtledove – Alternate History


I was intrigued with the premise of this alternate history novel.  In the Korea War, General MacArthur convinces President Truman to allow him to use nuclear bombs against the Chinese surging into the Korean peninsula.  I knew one thing, the Godfather of the genre, Harry Turtledove, was going to take us on a ride.

“Harry, I have an idea.  Let’s toast a few hundred thousand Chinese…”

It is a neat period of history and Turtledove’s twist of history was going to be a good combination I felt and I wasn’t let down.  The Russians respond to the use of nuclear weapons by using some of their own.  Rather than a horrific holocaust in a blinding few minutes, this is a bomber war and both sides sparingly use their weapons of mass destruction.  It is a slow, almost ponderous and grinding war of attrition – one that is entirely plausible.

Turtledove has his usual ensemble of characters to tell us the story, right down to his traditional Jewish character.  When it comes to Turtledove, this is expected and somewhat anticipated.  The book felt like a well worn glove that fit on my hand just right.

I had no idea that this was the first book of a series, which I have to admit, left me a little bit hanging.  So you’re not left with a strong conclusion in this book, instead you’re left set up for the next book in the series.  That was a little bit disappointing but that was the only thing I didn’t enjoy.

This book is old-school Turtledove at his best.  The characters really stand out and the plot takes us on a very intricate war.  The battle of Fulda Gap, which we all anticipated in the 1980’s, is fascinating in the 1950’s.  I love T34’s tangling with contemporary American armor.

I give this book a five out of five stars.  I devoured it in a weekend and now have to twiddle my thumbs until the next book comes out in April.

One thought on “Review of Bombs Away – Harry Turtledove – Alternate History

  1. Andreas Zuber

    Since you are that deep into AH: Are you familiar with the french comic series “Jour J”?
    Yes, they are comics, not novels (although in classic french/ belgian style – no DC/Marvel rags for you), but they bring up a lot of nice little AH concepts throughout the last 500 years I haven’t read about before.
    – Russians occupying France (They were rather fast at and over the Rhine in WWII)
    – Germans having won the Battle at the Marne in 1914
    – Napoleon won Waterloo and his Empire persisted
    – Da Vinci stayed in Mamelouk service/ Christopher Columbus didn’t serve Spain, but the arabs
    – The French kept their american colonies
    – The French use nuclear weapons at Dien Bien Phu
    all in all over 20 books so far.

    Don’t know if they are available in english, though.

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