triking cover that originally caught my attention back in the 80s – an ME109 shooting down a something or other with the Empire State Building in the background. Yes, the Nazis are invading New York!
Well, when I read it, I really didn’t get it. See, after that action-packed cover, the Germans are actually on the ground, having swept down from Iceland and up from Bermuda, taking the Northeast while the US was distracted with the fall of Hawaii and the Japanese fleet off the west coast. It isn’t about the short blitz that took the city – it’s about the occupation that falls over it.
It’s helped, I suppose, by the fact that I’ve been to New York recently – I could see these places in my mind and appreciate the story more. Further, I’m older, and my reader’s thrill of combat is now equaled to the shiver at the thought of Nazis imposing their values, might and their Gestapo on Americans. The plan against the Jews isn’t in full swing, not yet, but the Germans are thinking about it. So here we follow the course of several main characters; the rich American businessman picked to be the Regent of America, his mistress, a Jewish actress, a dense thug of a gangster, the German cultural minister, all these people – interacting, changing sides, and occasionally dying. Yes, it’s a very busy book, running out 530 pages.
Couple of observations – Leo Rutman really does know this city and he really does know how a Nazi occupation would feel, the gnawing terror and such. He’s good there. But when it comes to trains, not so good. A scene where the resistance uses a train to aid in blowing up a factory is full of glitches – how trains work, how they operate, how they uncouple, and how they come off the tracks. Okay, so no internet then, so no research – I’ve seen worse nowadays. And, sadly, the book just stops. The last heroic battle, New York falls to an American uprising (you know it was going to happen, right?). But, hey, this is a huge city surrounded by a lot of Nazis in New Jersey and upstate. It’s a city that’s dropped its bridges and now exists in the middle of occupied America. What happens next? Do we end up with a Leningrad? Or does the American military finally get on the ball and storm across to chase the Huns out? Running a flag up a flagpole is not the same as saving yourself. Yeah, what happens next?
Anyway, another good read from the 80s. Check your library or perhaps online sources. A good one from Leo Rutman.