cover image West and East

West and East

Harry Turtledove, Del Rey, $27 (448p) ISBN 978-0-345-49184-8

Having laid out the course of "the war that came early" in 2009's Hitler's War, Turtledove focuses on turning his characters from stock military figures into specialists. In this version of WWII, the Nazis fail to take Paris. The German war machine, apparently fed by infinite soldiers, turns not only to the western and eastern fronts but also north to Denmark. The novel most fully shines when the characters are allowed to strive for their full potential: Czech sniper Vaclav Jezek adopts an antitank rifle as his favorite weapon; German pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel ingeniously modifies his aircraft; Soviet soldier Chaim Weinberg becomes a Party propagandist; and the Goldman family tries to achieve a semblance of normal life in Nazi-ruled Münster. The war is always present, though, and there's plenty to satisfy fans of military strategy, tactics, and armaments. (Aug.)