President Herbert Hoover has failed America. The Great Depression that rose from the ashes of the 1929 stock market crash still casts its dark shadow over the country. Despairing and desperate, the American people hope one of the potential Democratic candidates - New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt and California congressman Joe Steele - can get the nation on the road to recovery. But fate snatches away one hope when a mansion fire claims the life of Roosevelt, leaving the Democratic party little choice but to nominate Steele, son of a Russian immigrant laborer who identifies more with the common man than with Washington, DC's wealthy power brokers.
Achieving a landslide victory, President Joe Steele wastes no time pushing through Congress reforms that put citizens back to work. Anyone who gets in his way is getting in the way of America, and that includes the highest in the land. Joe Steele's critics may believe the government is gaining too much control, but they tend to find themselves in work camps if they make too much noise about it. And most people welcome strong leadership, full employment, and an absence of complaining from the newspapers - especially as Hitler and Trotsky begin the kind of posturing that seems sure to drag America into war.
©2015 Harry Turtledove (P)2015 Recorded Books
The story is both wide and deep. It encompasses what happens to the whole country by focusing on two brothers. Because of that, the narrative holds together well.
Joe Steele is based on the assumption that people as a whole would meekly roll over for a totalitarian government. That premise is the basis for the entire story. To not allow for any reaction other than the two brothers' seems a hole in the story that should have been filled.
I was rushing into a meeting at work, and totally exhausted, but I HAD to stop and offer a review on this audiobook, and type fast as a maniac. Let' s get to it.
Bottom line? Turtledove has done it again.
If you've ever read my reviews, you know some of my favorite listens/reads are "What If?" alternate historical fiction. A simple twist or two, and minor event change, and what would or could happen?
Tragically, so much of this particular genre is flooded with poorly contrived, unrealistic and excruciatingly painful to read second or third rate rubbish. And the subsequent sequel (If ever) reads like the author lost a bet. The stuff that can drive a book editor to hard liquor.
Not here - Turtledove is the "blue chip stock" writer of alternate history. The undisputed top of the food chain. A Master Chef of excellent listening cuisine. A wordsmith storyteller whose alternate history writings/listens are ALWAYS worthy of your Audible credits.
Do yourself a favor and look into this author's background - No WONDER so many of his his alternate history series are "must reads."
So, here's his "What If?" that is, in essence, a dark political thriller. An original idea. A page-turning, can't wait to hear what happens next listen...
What if Joseph Stalin's family migrated to the United States, along with countless other families seeking a new life and pursuit of a their dreams? Like almost every immigrant family that crossed the ocean to join us, their last name was butchered at Ellis Island, and thus became the Steele family. What if "Joe Steele" was born and raised here, eventually became a governor, ran for president against Franklin D. Roosevelt...AND WON?
Imagine where we might travel as a nation. As a world power. How would our politics change? The military? The two party system? Individual's rights? War? Peace? A bright future? A war-torn nation? World War? Peace At Any Price?
If you want to find out more... BUY THIS AUDIOBOOK.
Still not convinced? Go look at his body of alternate history work - Dead spot on page turners. I own them all, and that's not because I'm collecting them. THEY"RE GOOD. They're full of excellent writing, great characterization and believable premises. Engaging dialogue? CHECK. Epic in scope? DONE. Followup novels in the series that keep the pace fast and fresh? YEP.
But is this "What if?" plausible? Could it really happen?
YES. And how this tuns out is.... well, I've never given hints or page turners in my reviews. That's a bit selfish on my part, and ruins YOUR journey. And what a deeply magnificent one it is.
All I can say is that I stayed up all night to finish listening to it, and on a WORK NIGHT. The night before that crazy meeting. Considering the sheer size of my audiobook library, this doesn't happen often. If this is going to be another of Turtledove's series, I'll buy the audiobook, even if I don't have any available credits.
I'll throw MAD CASH at Audible to get it.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
No, that is not today’s headline from the Drudge Report—it is the idea behind this new Harry Turtledove novel.
Count Your Blessings that the slow march of Progressivism driving the US of A into socialism didn’t begin with a full-blown communist in the White House. Of course, contemplating current events it may end that way.
Joe Steele relates what history might have been like if Joseph Stalin’s family had emigrated to America and Trotsky retained control of Russia. The course of WWII is noticeably affected, of course, but the most significant differences are in the USA. This can, and should, be read as a cautionary tale, warning US citizens to stick to the constitution and not to allow a strong leader to take control. Once a dictator gets to be in charge, he stays in charge.
The characterization is one-dimensional and not very engaging. I found the plot to be the driving force in this novel. The idea of “what if” applied to American history provides sufficient interest to keep things moving.
So far this book is not part of a series, and that is OK by me. Harry Turtledove’s best books are stand-alone novels: The Guns of the South, Ruled Britannia, and In the Presence of Mine Enemies. I would also include How Few Remain in the list even though it is a precursor to—but not necessarily a part of—The Great War series.
A common element in these Alternate History stories is that no matter how bad is the present, any imagined alternative would be much worse. Maybe it is easier to write such pessimistic stories than it would be to imagine a better turn of events. The best element of an alternate history is that it forces you to reevaluate the currents of the past and the recapitulation of past events, in a slightly modified form, and doing that grants greater understanding of actual events. Those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. Those who don’t read alternate history are doomed to repetitious boredom.
Richard Poe delivers a fine effort of narration. Not as dramatic a reading as some of my favorite performers but a solid rendering nonetheless of a novel with a cast of many characters. If you are fond of the reading talents of Richard Poe I recommend John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, also voiced by Poe.
I've been reading Harry Turtledoves books for almost 40 years and never been disappointed . His alternate histories are always thought provoking. Try this one I think you'll not be disappointed !
Stalin in charge of America - ridiculous
Elected for 5 terms - garbage
Devotes life to defeat communists- Say What?
Another great alternative history from turtledove- YES!!!
I am a huge fan of Mr.turtledove but I didn't get into the Supervolcano series. However this is a return to form. A true what if that is fantastic. A great use of a credit.
Nothing that comes to mind. One of Turtledove's weaker stories.
The idea. It just seems so rediculous.
His narration is rather good inspite of the story being poor.
It had none, I'm sorry to say.
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