A DATE WHICH WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
Edited by Brian Thomsen & Martin H. Greenberg
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Although published in a different format and by a different publishing company, A Date Which Will Live in Infamy is clearly a companion volume to Brian M. Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg’s Alternate Gettysburgs. Both anthologies focus on a single battle and include many of the same authors. Furthermore, they both contain the intelligent inclusion of a couple of essays on the actual events of the battle and the use of the battle in writing alternate history.
In his introduction, Thomsen reveals something about his own misplaced feelings about history when he states, “Historians like facts that are carved in stone.” This statement is made immediately after noting that his brother is an historian, leading the reader to wonder how Thomsen came by this point of view if he has had any historical discussions with his sibling. If history were simply a matter of “facts that are carved in stone,” there would be no need for the ongoing historical debate to determine why things happened the way they did.
Several years ago, Simon Hawke published a series of twelve novels in the “Time Wars” series. He opens A Date Which Will Live in Infamy with a short story set following the last novel. “The Sumter Scenario: A Time Wars Story” is a short, discussion between General Lucas Priest and his subordinate Finn Delaney in which Priest explains how Franklin Roosevelt set the stage and encouraged a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Although the story ends with Delaney and another agent going back to 1941 to ensure that the surprise attack does occur, there is very little action beyond the talking heads aspect, and even the relationships only exist to a reader who is familiar with the earlier series. On the other hand, “The Sumter Scenario” may be an indication that Hawke is interested in returning to the series with a fresh point of view.
In “The Secret History of Mr. Churchill’s Revenge,” Tony Geraghty continues the early stories absolution of the Japanese by laying the blame for the planning and initiation of the attack on other feet. While Hawke chose Roosevelt as his scapegoat, Geraghty lays the blame, as the title indicates, on a Churchill who is tired of being ignored by Americans, first his mother, and now Roosevelt. In the end, the story takes a strange turn into secret history, although it is not surprising and Geraghty provided plenty of clues throughout.
Jim DeFelice is the first real alternate history story in the novel. “Cain” looks at two brothers, Louis, an army officer who warns the President about an impending attack on Pearl Harbor, and William, a naval officer who leads the counterattack following Pearl Harbor. DeFelice successfully creates two brothers who have a long and jealous history. He further demonstrates how the events of history can rely on the activities and petty issues of individuals who do not appear on the national or international stage.
Ed Gorman provides a look at the consequences of action in “Pariah.” During the war, Frank Stover revealed that Roosevelt knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened. Years later, he is a scapegoat for people’s lack of faith in their government and the destruction of a national icon. Gorman provides a rational, and upsetting, examination of the way this country treats whistleblowers.
R.J. Pineiro opens the next section of the book with the story “Green Zeros,” which is set in 1943 in a world in which Pearl Harbor was not attacked and the U.S. delayed even longer before entering the war. Because of German, Italian and Japanese expansion, the stakes are even higher for the aircraft carrier and crew.
“The East Wind Caper” is a detective-noir story which results in James Reasoner’s private eye getting caught up in the events of the Japanese attack through no fault of his own. It serves as a strong reminder that although most of the stories focus on the military aspect of the attack, there was also a civilian population near the attack which was going about its own activities.
“Path of the Storm” by William C. Deitz is, perhaps, the story which most details the actions and decisions made during the attack. Jumping between different characters on both sides of the battle, Deitz presents an interesting, and balanced view of where the decisions could have gone differently, resulting in a different battle and outcome. Unfortunately, by focusing so much on the single battle, Deitz fails to provide what could have been an interesting follow-up presenting the different path the war would have taken.
William H. Hallahan’s “The Fourth Scenario” depicts a scenario in which Admiral Kimmel and others knew of the Japanese attack before it could happen. The story focuses on a sailor who is first reporting for duty with a minor examination of Kimmel’s analysis of the situation. In the end, advance n\knowledge does less good that surprise and the reader is wondering about the importance of the sailor’s part in the story.
Brendan DuBois looks at the maxim that history is written by the victors in “Victory at Pearl Harbor.” Set on the thirtieth anniversary of a nearly forgotten Pearl Harbor, Alex Dwyer is a cub reporter in a depressed United States given the assignment to write a brief article about a group of Pearl Harbor survivors. Upon hearing their story of a Japanese surprise attack, Dwyer writes a much longer exposé describing what really happened. DuBois deals with revisionist history well by reversing the tables on established history.
Barrett Tillman portrays himself as an apologist for Charles Lindbergh’s pro-Nazi sentiment and activities in “I Relieve You, Sir.” This is a story of Lindbergh’s first days as president following a successful bid to unseat Franklin Roosevelt in 1944. At the same time, Tillman successfully portrays a view that the Communists were a greater threat while demonstrating the disbelief that the Nazis were capable of carrying out the atrocities which we know were committed.
Doug Allyn eschews looking at Pearl Harbor in favor of a story set in the jungles of Viet Nam. “Beer, Betrayal, and Ho Chi Minh” allows Ho Chi Minh to offer his assistance to a United States which is trying to figure out how to wage successful war against the Japanese war machine. Allyn’s story tries to do a little too much, tying in French actions, the United States’ problems, Ho Chi Minh’s aspirations, and the downing of an American pilot, in too short a space. Furthermore, the characters and action come across as little more than a series of talking heads.
In a world in which Japan destroyed the US fleet at Pearl Harbor and was prepared to impose a one-sided armistice on the United States, William H. Keith, Jr.’s version of the end of the world requires “A Terrible Resolve” for the United States to gain a victory. Keith allows some of the scapegoats for Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kimmel, Admiral Stark and Cordell Hull, to redeem themselves by offering both a peace and a self sacrifice.“December 7, 2001: A Classroom on the American Continent” is a short alternate history which focuses more on what consensus history is and how revisionist history is created than on its own allohistorical point. Although Allen C. Kupfer has produced more of an essay than a story, it provide a good historiographical ending to the fiction portion of the anthology.
|Simon Hawke||The Sumter Scenario: A Time Wars Story|
|Tony Geraghty||The Secret History of Mr. Churchill's Revenge|
|R.J. Pineiro||Green Zeros|
|James M. Reasoner||The East Wind Caper|
|William C. Deitz||Path of the Storm|
|William H. Hallahan||The Fourth Scenario|
|Brendan DuBois||Victory at Pearl Harbor|
|Barrett Tillman||I Relieve You, Sir|
|Doug Allyn||Beer, Betrayal, and Ho Chi Minh|
|William H. Keith, Jr.||A Terrible Resolve|
|Allen C. Kupfer||December 7, 2001: A Classroom on the American Continent|
|Roland Green||Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941: A Timeline|
|Paul A. Thomsen||The Diplomatic Subtext of the Pearl Harbor Attack|
|William R. Forstchen||The Realities of an Alternate Pearl Harbor|
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