Upheaval, chaos and turmoil are all part of military history.
It has been a privilege for me to write about men, machines and the fog of war in books, magazine articles and newspaper columns for 60 years — ever since my first paid contribution appeared in the November 1955 issue of Air Force magazine.
But in all those years of writing non-fiction, it felt like something was missing. To get new insights, a new way to write about conflict—it seemed to me—was to put both real and imaginary people into both real and fictitious situations.
A new departure
My first venture into so-called “alternate history” is my book “Hitler’s Time Machine,” published two months ago
on December 15. Earlier, my name appeared on a straightforward history of the race between both sides to develop jet aircraft in World War II. Now, my by-line is on an “alternate history” of the race between both sides to develop time machines.
In this new book, readers encounter figures with familiar names like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lou Gehrig and Heinrich Himmler. But the reader will also meet fictitious characters including a young woman who is the top physicist on a super-secret project and a Luftwaffe pilot who questions what some of his bosses are doing. It’s a mixture of real events … and time travel.
The physicist is Barbara Stafford — the American counterpart of German scientist Hans Kammler. She talks of the dilemma she’s confronted with:
“This war will never end as long as both sides have time machines,” Barbara warns, “because one side will always be able to travel back and checkmate the other.”
The contest between Barbara and Kammler takes place against a backdrop of real events — baseball player Lou Gehrig speaking to a stadium audience on July 4, 1939 about the disease that people now associate with his name; Japan attacking Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941; the western allies invading Sicily on July 10, 1943.
These events all fit in with the story told in “Hitler’s Time Machine,” and they unfold exactly as they happened. But the book makes minor changes, such as the date Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was strafed by a Spitfire and the architecture at Adolf Hitler’s field headquarters, the wolfsschanze.
Could Germany win World War II by sending a traveler back in time to attack the future British prime minister? Could the allies prevail by traveling into the future to discover some new, high technology weapon?
The answer to those questions, posed by events in the book, is no. The rest? Hey, it’s available on Kindle and in hard copy. British readers can find it here: Hitler’s Time Machine and to American readers here: Hitler’s Time Machine (US) and European Readers: Hitler’s Time Machine (English Edition). It’s available in other countries as well.
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