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The Big Switch (The War That Came Early #3)

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  694 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
In this extraordinary World War II alternate history, master storyteller Harry Turtledove begins with a big switch: what if Neville Chamberlain, instead of appeasing Hitler, had stood up to him in 1938? Enraged, Hitler reacts by lashing out at the West, promising his soldiers that they will reach Paris by the new year. They don’t. Three years later, his genocidal apparatus ...more
Hardcover, 418 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Del Rey
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(showing 1-30)
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Carol Storm
Nov 11, 2014 Carol Storm rated it it was ok
Book after book, I keep paging through Harry Turtledove's WAR THAT CAME EARLY, hoping that something will happen. Something big, explosive, and unexpected. Some huge surprise. And over and over, NOTHING HAPPENS!

Please, please, please don't make me watch the ugly French Lieutenant smoke another Gitane. Please, don't make me listen to cheerful, upbeat Sarah Goldman say once again that things are tough for the Jews. Please, please, can we just stick to the combat, the shooting, the rat-a-tat-tat st
Maddi Hausmann
This is book 3 in Harry Turtledove's War War II series "The War That Came Early." Turtledove has "redone" War War II several times, which is probably why I feel he's phoning these in. Too many of the scenes seem like I've read them before. And I probably have, as I've read pretty much everything Turtledove has published. His earlier takes on WWII include the Worldwar Series, a retelling with an alien invasion that leads to cooperation among what were enemies in our timeline; the Darkness Series, ...more
May 12, 2011 Liviu rated it really liked it
The series that started in Hitler's War chugs along slowly and somewhat repetitively here, though things happen of course and history moves even farther away from our timeline (one hint: Winston Churchill never gets to be PM when Chamberlain's cancer takes him down in 1940)

The main problem with the book is that the format that worked very well in the first volume and reasonably well in the second (multiple pov's from front line grunts - low ranking officers or just regular soldiers - in all thea
Jan 05, 2012 Leons1701 rated it it was ok
Less dragging and repetitive than the previous entries in the series, so that's good. Sadly, the main plot point is absurdly unbelievable. France and England accepting a cease-fire or even a full peace treaty I could accept, actually switching sides to join Germany in a crusade against the Soviets? No way, especially not when they were winning, pushing the Germans back out of France. It's rather rare for nations to switch sides in a war and almost every case that comes to mind in involves a stat ...more
May 29, 2013 Melinda rated it did not like it
Tedious. That's really all I have to say. I love books about WWII. I love historical fiction and alternative histories, but I just could not get into this and finally gave up. There were thousands of characters- or well, not really; it just felt like it. The characters were so flat and one dimensional: American socialite, German sniper, Japanese army, etc. and they all seemed to be drawn as stereotypes. I had a hard time keeping track of them all and ultimately, did not care if I kept track.
Jun 30, 2011 Marrissa marked it as to-read
As of June 30th I haven't received this book from the Goodreads giveaway. :(
Sep 17, 2011 Aaron rated it really liked it

This is the third installment in one of Turtledove's more recent series: The War That Came Early. The concept behind the series is a proposal to look at what might have happened if the Nazis, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, had started their aggressive invasions in 1936 rather than 1939. The series is expected to have five volumes.

For a great deal of time, not a lot has been all that different. Germany has settled into a draw in France on the Western Front and in Poland on the East, but th
Al Lock
Feb 26, 2017 Al Lock rated it really liked it
How much difference could Rudolf Hess have made? Well, Harry Turtledove gives us a chance to find out. A cracking good read about a very different 1940.
Zach Smith
Nov 14, 2014 Zach Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: genre
Book Number 3 in Harry Turtledove’s alternate WWII history overall titled “The War that Came Early.” With the previous two novels in the series, it is kind of hard to tell what happened and what didn’t happen w/r/t actual World War II history. Sure we knew from the onset that the war did not start with Germany invading Czechoslovakia, but as for a lot of the other details it would require a good amount of background research to see for yourself weather if this or that had happened or not. The Bi ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Tom
Recommended to Jeff by: Found it on the library shelves
Third in the War That Came Early Series, Turtledove sticks to his tried and true formula of short vignettes of common people (military and civilian alike) dealing with the unfolding history all around them Through these numerous vignettes, the reader slowly gets the bigger picture of what is going on...almost at the same pace as the characters themselves. Turtledove's vast - and at the same time intimate - knowledge of the technology, the societies, the cultures, and the politics of this time pe ...more
Feb 25, 2012 Mark rated it liked it
Blew through this one pretty fast, which is none too surprising considering the prose is not challenging. As well, as I mentioned in the review of the previous volume, it's not so much the little stories for which you'd read these books, it's more what they reveal about the big world plot.

One thing I have noticed is that these books seem to be each following roughly one calendar year of time apiece, rather than following a certain arc of the alternate WWII.

In this third volume, we depart from re
Varrick Nunez
May 05, 2016 Varrick Nunez rated it liked it
I didn't realize, until after I started it, that I had picked up a story mid-stream in its telling. I have seen Mr. Turtledove's books on the shelf at the library where I work and not having read one, thought I'd give it a try. His books seem popular, circulating quite often.

So, this is an alternate history of the mid-twentieth century, supposing certain events happened that did not actually occur, or weaving actual events into a different narrative. Here, England and France are at war with Nazi
I was going to give up on this series (see my reviews for the first two books) but, if being a completist at heart I hate to stop in the middle. At least this book is marginally better than the others in that there are major alternate historical events occurring to create more interest. The first one hundred fifty pages continue in much the same tedium that readers had to endure in the first two books: battlefield personnel banter, swearing and stereotypical name-calling. Then, thankfully, event ...more
Jan 24, 2012 Dave added it
Tried out a new genre and decided I didn't care for it. I've always liked historical fiction, especially stuff set during WWII, but this one didn't do anything for me. I'm not going to give it a star rating because it seems a little unfair since I seem to find this genre [alternative history fiction] unappealing.

The story of the war is told from the point of view of a number of different characters on all sides. Unfortunately, these characters all felt pretty flat and one dimensional to me. No o
May 20, 2011 Jessie marked it as to-read
Friday September 9, 2011 - Just call me "Squeeky Wheel". I recieved the book today via FedEx.

Wednesday September 7, 2011 - I have not recieved either a response from the publisher who sponsored the giveaway or a copy of the book.

August 17, 2011 - Email to Del Rey / Spectra Books
Subject: Did Not Recieve Book
I won a copy of The War That Came Early: The Big Switch
by Harry Turtledove. As of August 17, 2011 I have not received a copy. My Address is listed below.

As of Saturday July 16, 2011 I have no
Nov 16, 2011 John rated it liked it
2nd Entry in the "War That Came Early" series which envisions WW2 starting in 1938 over Czechoslovakia. The added twist is that full scale war had also broken out between the Soviet Union and Japan, putting *both* Germany and Japan in a two-front war. The different setup has been and is interesting, but the "Big Switch" alluded to in the title just seems completely unrealistic to me. It's rather hard to explain without giving it away, and I know the whole point is that we're dealing with an alte ...more
Feb 04, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The series continues, with some new view points (and some are no more...).

I have to wonder, would governments be so stupid? Then I have to wonder at myself. Of course, governments could be so stupid! If history can teach us one thing, it's that governments can be anything, from ultimately inspiring to extremely evil, with lots of stupid and short sighted all mixed in.

But then again, governments govern at the will and whim of the people, as long as the people understand that. They are a reflecti
Jan 15, 2013 Leo rated it it was ok
Well written but the author is milking this alternate history of WWII. There are at least two more volumes in this series; one currently out, another due this summer. If this could only be edited into a three or four volumes at most. Right now everything moves at a glacial pace; we don't see the machinations of Hitler, Stalin, Tojo, FDR. Once again, as the story is being told by the grunts on the ground, major events occur off-stage. If you liked the previous volumes in the series, it's more of ...more
David Johnston
Mar 22, 2015 David Johnston rated it it was ok
This is a fairly standard Turtledove alt-hist, an alternate World War II seen through the eyes of one person from each of a wide variety of combatant nations. I would have given it 3 stars...except I can't get past the premise. It simply doesn't make sense for the French and British to go that far. Yeah, with no Munich Agreement and subsequent betrayal of that agreement I can see the British seriously considering Hess's peace overture and maybe accepting it along with the French. But switching s ...more
Dec 21, 2011 Somewhatbent rated it liked it
The War That Came Early: West and East[return]Harry Turtledove[return]Del Rey (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 448 pages[return][return][return]This volume is a bit slower to engage than the first volume of this trilogy, Hitler's War (and I confess I missed the intermediate book entirely - which may or may not affect the overall review). The book stands on it's own well enough, but does take a while to engage the whole cast of characters as we meet them in short vignettes. Once we know who the pla ...more
Aug 06, 2013 David rated it liked it
Turtledove's new alt history of WWII takes an interesting turn. I had read the first 2 books several years and just re-read them, so I was really looking forward to this book. I was definitely disappointed with this book. He has Winston Churchill assassinated and suddenly in the "Big Switch," France and Great Britain join Germany against the USSR. He shows the troops not being happy with this, but fails to explain why the politicians think this is a good idea. In the book, Germany agrees to give ...more
Sean You
Aug 22, 2011 Sean You rated it liked it
The sequel to East and West; less repetitive than the previous novel, though Turtledove's story telling does not really improve significantly. Again, the major problem with this novel, is the lack of empathy felt towards many characters. They are not fleshed out enough or given a significant backstory for the readers to feel much emotions at their deaths. The characters are too generic, eg German Tanker, US Pacific marine, etc. However, that said, the premise of the novel (without giving too muc ...more
Gavin Baker
Apr 15, 2013 Gavin Baker rated it really liked it
A very interesting book. Turtledove has imagined a world where WW2 started in 1938 and over Czechoslovakia. I havent read the previous books as I saw this in a library wanted to know more of this book.

From the viewpoint of at around 10 people it was like reading a series of novels, and I found it interesting when some characters would meet others, or historical figures were included.

I would like to read the earlier and later books in this series as this alternate history pulls out suprises from
Jul 29, 2015 Georgy_kovacs rated it liked it
Turtledove keeps changing the route of History. It's 1940 and - for some mysterious reason, a very convincing Rudolf Hess not only hammers a peace treaty with Germany's western enemies, but he also drums up England and France military support against Russia. The Big Switch. Turtledove only gives some hints about what the small print of the Big Switch is - maybe the lack of credible detail on that is what made me give him a 3.0 instead of a solid 4.0. Another weak point is his lack of detail on C ...more
Feb 01, 2017 Christopher rated it liked it
Churchill is killed and Britain and France switch sides to JOIN the Germans against the Soviets. America remains neutral and stops selling any arms /oil to the belligerents and is attacked by the Japanese for their trouble.

Another enjoyable volume though the "big switch" is too far fetched and Turtledove's repetitive "officer vs enlisted" dynamic is wearing thin. Still gonna read the next one though.
Sep 21, 2011 Geoff rated it did not like it
Very disappointed. Turtledove develops some of the characters well, others are mere commentators for the ideas - none become a real protagonist and none really inspire true feeling. Admittedly an ambitious try, but this started with a fizzle and ended with a whimper. To my mind Len Deighton SS-GB is still the pinnacle of this alternate WWII history, this book is not even a pale reflection of that talent.
Rob Roy
Jul 24, 2011 Rob Roy rated it liked it
This is the third in Turtledove’s series on what would have happened had World War II started a year earlier. The events of the first two were predictable, but in The Big Switch, history is radically altered. I will let the reader discover the twist. As always, characterization highlights Turtledove’s prose. These characters become people you care about regardless of side. If you love history, and reading, I recommend Turtledove.
David R.
Dec 25, 2011 David R. rated it really liked it
The third in Turtledove's series about a WW2 that started early (i.e. with an invasion of Czechslovakia instead of Poland). It's pretty typical Turtledove: lots of rapidly changing character vignettes. The major plot twist is interesting: Hess convinces the British High Command (with Churchill safely assassinated) to throw in with the Nazis against the Soviet Union. The only downside is that the many subplots get very repetitive with little advancement.
Jul 31, 2014 Max rated it really liked it
Turtledove does it once more! With this alternate history of World War 2, more and more of the war keeps getting twisted in something outside of what happened in our own timeline.

With Great Britain and France joining Nazi Germany in attacking Soviet Russia, it comes off as somewhat hard to believe. But the masterful writing and plotting of Harry Turtledove actually makes it believable! I eagerly await reading the next volume.
Aug 01, 2013 Robert rated it liked it
There are some authors with whom you cannot go wrong. Harry Turtledove is one of them. This gets a three only because it's not his best. Likable? Absolutely. Juvenile? Perhaps at times. Alternate History will always be tricky because people vary in their ability and desire to suspend disbelief. Time machines in The Guns of The South? Bring it on. Churchill assassinated? Er...

This one deserves to be part of a series and let me restate that it's a good book.
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Dr Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced a sizeable number of works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.

Harry Turtledove attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977.

Turtledove has been dubbed "The Master of Alternate History". Within this genre he is known both for creating original sce
More about Harry Turtledove...

Other Books in the Series

The War That Came Early (6 books)
  • Hitler's War (The War That Came Early, #1)
  • West and East (The War That Came Early, #2)
  • Coup d'Etat (The War That Came Early, #4)
  • Two Fronts (The War That Came Early, #5)
  • Last Orders (The War That Came Early, #6)

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