This book is Conroy’s fifth alternate history novel, yet in many respects it reads like his third one, 1945, given how much he borrows from it. Though the setting is different – with the premise being a clash between Soviet and American forces in Germany at the end of the Second World War in Europe – the elements are all too familiar to anyone who has read Conroy’s earlier work. As in the earlier novel, they will encounter green lieutenants, beleaguered but determined generals, men trapped behind the lines cooperating with OSS agents, a duplicitous Soviet Union, and a plucky man from Missouri attempting to address it all. Even the ending is essentially the same, though this is less of a surprise as all of Conroy’s novels seem to conclude with an “in-the-end-the-world-was-left-a-better-place” sort of wrapping up.
This is not to say that this is not an enjoyable book, as fans of Conroy’s alternate novels will find the author firing on every cylinder that he has within these pages. But it seems that with the fifth novel (and his third consecutive one set in the Second World War) Conroy’s creative well is running dry and he is beginning to recycle earlier ideas in a slightly refreshed setting. In his “Acknowledgments” section at the end of the book he expresses his hope that this will not be the last alternate history novel he writes; while I'm sure it wasn't, I hope that he put more time into giving readers something new and different, rather than just warming over his earlier work.