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Dominion

Dominion

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In justifying his portrayal, Samson quotes Clement Atlee, the post-war Labour prime minister, who said that the press baron was the most evil person he had ever met. And also really unnecessary - in fact I think it would work better if we didn't ever know the secret. To release this Frank Muncaster, Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secret spy for the Resistance, is sent to Birmingham in an attempt to rescue him and get him out of the country. The premise intrigued me, which is why I chose it in the first place - it's set in a Britain which lost the Second World War or which, more accurately, never really fought it. Variations on Hitler's defeat by the allies have become a recurrent strain in the genre of counter-factual or alternative-history fiction.

The moment that the author refers to in his disclaimer is the scene which forms the brilliant climax to Michael Dobbs' Winston's War, the British cabinet meeting at which Neville Chamberlain, the discredited appeaser, resigns and Winston Churchill takes over as Prime Minister. He has anti German sympathies and he is approached by his university friend to work for the resistance by providing secret material to them. Now I wonder, it is no secret that the Americans and the Germans were in the race to build an 'extremely powerful weapon' to have an edge over the other side, victory would then be assured for the side in possession of the 'most powerful weapon'. Jai ir Davidui su Franku, bei jų bičiuliams ant kulnų lipa iš Vokietijos iškviestas gestapo šturmbanfiureris Guntheris Hothas, negailestingas žmonių medžiotojas. The antagonist, Gunther Hoth, a Gestapo policeman hunting Fitzgerald and his Resistance colleagues, is neither stupid nor inexperienced and almost becomes a sympathetic character.

Their names are common for the period but it is ironic that they are both from the old testament which connects to the Jewish faith. I've not read many books about resistance organisations, but I'd have thought that one of the cardinal rules was that people knew only as much as they needed to know, and nothing more. It's just a case of watching it all plod along, with very few unanswered questions to hook the reader's interest. Sansom himself was "Very Highly Commended" in the 2007 CWA Dagger in the Library award, for the Shardlake series.

Samson has simply advanced beyond his fictitious present to a real future, to Powell’s 1960s warning over the possible effects of mass immigration. I'd read all of this author's Shardlake novels and enjoyed them so decided I would read some of his others. I rather enjoyed the slow build up of tension in the beginning part of the book - I know that's probably an unusual personal taste. Very dark, thought provoking and a rollicking good thriller - Sansom likes to put in extensive background stories for every charactet but this worked for me. A review in The Guardian conceded that some individuals are depicted in light that is less than favourable in the fictional work: "Because they are dead, defamation is no legal risk, but there may still be moral jeopardy.Admittedly, the author has to deal with connecting the wires of his version of the world to that which existed in 1940. Whilst I found the first third of the 600+ page novel slow, it kicks off with Fitzgerald ‘s exposure as an agent and then romps along to the finish. A dozen years later in 1952, it is Beaverbrook who is PM of a British Client state of Nazi Germany whose own leader, an ailing Hitler, is still battling with the Russians on the Eastern Front.

J. Sansom, though I’m told that he is well-respected for his Shardlake series, historical novels set in Tudor England. For readers who enjoy a grown-up adventure story Dominion is evocative, alarming and richly satisfying’ Daily Express Books by C. Halifax, the Foreign Minister and a noted appeaser, is favoured by Chamberlain, the King and most of the Tory Party. Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given the mission by them to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country. So the narrative viewpoint is split between the evil baddie Nazi Gestapo commander who is sent to the UK to capture a British scientist with a military secret, a decent British chap who is spying for the Resistance, decent chap's insipid wife, and the scientist with undiagnosed Aspergers and a long-winded boarding school backstory.In recorded history, Stevenson was thrashed by D-day hero General Dwight Eisenhower, but, in this version, there hasn't been an allied victory to gild Ike's reputation and so he hasn't even run for the Republicans. For some reason an argument ensues between Frank and Edgar, who in a fit of bravado and drink tells Frank about the extremely sensitive project that he is working on, this drives Frank utterly berserk, he pushes Edgar out of a window and goes totally stark raving mad.

A junior civil servant gets involved with a plot to rescue an old friend with a deadly secret and all set against the start of the Final Solution reaching England and all Jews being rounded up. The notion of alternate history looks awesome to me, but the picture which Sansom painted seemed a bit unrealistic to me. I like that his novels are slow burners, that you take time to get to know the characters and become immersed in the plot.

The BBC have commissioned an adaptation of Dissolution with the actor Kenneth Branagh set to star as Shardlake. And in a Birmingham mental hospital, an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle forever. Counter-factuals are all the rage these days, even creeping into genuine historical accounts: I recently read a (factual) book on the Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis where he slipped a limited Nuclear attack by the USA on North Korea in 1951 into the start of one chapter, only to tell the reader two pages later that it had been a "what if". This is Vichy Britain, the only model the author seems to understand, a country whose cowardly leaders are prepared to hand over some of its citizens to an uncertain fate. It is 1952 and in the UK the people are ruled by a puppet government that submitted to the Nazi government in 1940 after the disaster of Dunkirk.



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