(Today’s guy: Harry Turtledove)
I’m actually not a very good book reviewer, mostly because I… I have no idea why, actually. I’m just not. You don’t hear very many people matter-of-factly answer Because I just suck at it to that particular question, which is a shame. There’d be less time wasted if more people did.
Well, despite my sucking at book reviewing, I recommend that you pick up Harry Turtledove’s The Man with the Iron Heart if you were or are at all relieved at the way that the Surge turned out. Or if you have a Lefty friend whose perception you want to test.
The book itself is alternate history, and imagines what would have happened if Reinhard Heydrich had lived through World War II and ended up running an organized terrorist resistance against the Allies. At the time that Turtledove must have been writing it, we were still taking a gamble on our changed policy in Iraq, so the position that it implicitly took (that it’s a bad idea to abandon an entire people to evil men just because it might win you an election*) was actually fairly brave. Turtledove doesn’t talk about his politics, much – but the one time I’ve heard him speak at a panel I could hear the same wary hesitation in his voice when talking to a “peace” enthusiast that I reserve for unrepentant idiots, so there’s that. Anyway, in another universe, this book would be a fairly potent Cassandra, and I’m irrationally convinced that such was its intent: fortunately for everybody involved, the good guys actually won, so it’s just doing duty instead as a sigh of relief.
If you don’t feel like reading that, then try Ruled Britannia. That’s “merely” an alternate history where William Shakespeare’s living and plotting in a world where the Spanish Armada succeeded and Elizabeth’s locked in the Tower of London. It’s quite possibly his best book – but then, I’m fond of Shakespeare.
*This would be the perception test. If your friend gets angry at the way Turtledove treats his version of the antiwar movement, he or she has passed.