If you’re looking to take a little break from the rapidly advancing tsunami that is Election 2011, then you might enjoy this. Harry Turtledove is the High Priest of alternative history fiction, that is, king of the “What if?” genre. His books tend to be slow burners, drawing you in with a swathe of characters and the slow, gradual unwrapping of a history that might have been. In the past he’s written about a South that won the civil war of 1861-65, and extrapolated it into a series telling the story all the way through into a world war fought on the US continent started by a southern version of Hitler. Turtledove does big ideas.
“In the presence of mine enemies”tells the stories of a group of Jews living in Berlin in a 2009 where the city is capital of a vast Nazi empire stretching from Japan to the United States, and their struggle to survive as the empire begins to undergo change under a new, reforming Fuhrer.
Turtledove isn’t to everyone’s taste. He can be very slow although enjoyable in his painting of everyday life in the imagined alternate world, and he enjoys cheekily populating his world with tips o’ the cap at historical figures and events. The recently deceased leader of the Reich is one former Austrian soldier named Kurt Haldweim. Get it?
Thankfully, the book is a standalone story, unlike many of Turtledove’s books that tend to become series after series. An enjoyable read.