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Dominion by C. J. Sansom

Dominion (original 2012; edition 2012)

by C. J. Sansom

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5204019,468 (3.74)64
Authors:C. J. Sansom
Info:Mantle (2012), Edition: Open market ed, Paperback
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Dominion by C. J. Sansom (2012)


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This book had me from page 1 - I like alternative history books and I am a fan of C J Sansom. [Those of you who have not yet read "Winter In Madrid" should hurry there.]
In terms of the alternative history theme, this book is based on a simple premise, Halifax rather than Churchill becomes Prime Minister rather than Churchill and Britain surrenders after Dunkirk. To be successful in portraying alternative history, the development from the point of departure need to be plausible and in this case they most certainly are very believable. This plausibility, coupled with a depiction of 1952 London that is both graphic and consistent with reality; not that much is changed from the reality, no bomb sites, but deep austerity, makes the early part of the book very readable. But what makes the book worth 5 stars is that, from this set-up the book gradually winds up into a real thriller, complete with surprising plot twista and revelations.
I thoroughly recommend this book and urge all readers not to stop when the story ens but to go on and read the author's notes, which are cogent and well expressed.

( )
  johnwbeha | Nov 18, 2015 |
You know that feeling, it happens once in a while, when you finish reading a book that was so good you want to go back to the beginning and start again? Well, it was like that for me with CJ Sansom’s ‘Dominion’.
It was the premise that caught my attention as soon as I read the pre-publication reviews: an alternate history set in Britain in 1952, peace is made with Hitler in 1941 which changes the direction of World War Two. An alternative world. Previously I had read one Sansom novel, ‘Winter in Madrid’, which I enjoyed; three of his Matthew Shardlake mysteries sit on my to-read shelf. After ‘Dominio’n, I will turn to them quickly.
The story focusses on four main characters, a scientist, a civil servant, the civil servant’s wife, and a Gestapo officer based at Senate House in London, the tall university building being the Gestapo’s London HQ with torture cells in the basement. This is a different Britain, where Jews are being rounded-up and transferred to camps in the country, where the Isle of Wight is occupied by the German army [which is still fighting in Russia], and where it is rumoured in Berlin that Hitler is either dead or dying.
To say more would risk spoiling the plot twists, of which there are plenty. The darkness of the time is shown symbolically by the Great Smog which actually happened in London, December 1952. It sheds a stifling blanket of choking fog which stops life and blinds everything more than a foot away. The smog is a metaphor of course for the blindness of the Government, and much of the population, who accept their situation with apathy and do nothing to aid the Resistance led, inevitably, by Churchill.
Sansom’s central message is about the danger of nationalism and xenophobia and what, in the extremes, they can lead to. A subject which, as he says in the Appendices, he fears is all too relevant in modern Europe.
A thought-provoking read.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Oct 30, 2015 |
An interesting tale of an alternative past in England in 1952. Churchill had been forced to give way to the appeasers and surrender to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk and Britain is under the thumb of Germany. C J Sansom paints a grim picture of a brutal Britain with a smog-bound London and disparate groups of Resistance activists. The style is one of an old black-and-white British film, with clipped accents and this seems to make a lot of the characters seem two-dimensional. David is a civil servant, married to Sarah, is secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance and he is called upon to provide support for his old friend, Frank, who holds a terrible secret told him by his brother. And so we are set up for a thrilling novel of lovable spies, bad Germans and corrupt politicians. The novel kept me interested to the end and was well researched and thought through. An interesting novel that was worth the read. ( )
  Tifi | Sep 28, 2015 |
It's 1951. Britain is under the thumb of Germany. The global economy is suffering as a result of the German war with Russia. As life in England becomes ever more oppressive, the Resistance with Churchill's guidance, becomes more active. Civil Servant Daniel Fitzgerald is a spy for the Resistance and has been asked to get a former friend out of Britain. ( )
  creighley | Jun 11, 2015 |
A crucial turning point in history: Winston Churchill does not become Prime Minister of Great Britain on May 9, 1940. As a result, Britain makes peace with Germany in 1940 and becomes subsumed by fascism.

Set in 1952, this novel imagines a very different and frighteningly realistic outcome to World War II. All the major Western European countries have been taken over by fascists, Jews have been massacred and imprisoned all over Europe, Germany has fought a terrible, unending war with Russia, America has become completely isolationist, and Japan has continued its war with China. The world that Sansom depicts is bleak and violent, and it could have been our world if there had been one small change in the course of history. Sansom is very good at world-building and has obviously done his research. His story is a spy thriller, focusing on several rather ordinary people caught up in the British Resistance and racing against time to get out of the country and protect a vital secret from falling into the hands of the Germans. The opening is definitely a hook, and the details of this world are fascinating, such as the noxious yellow fog that blankets London during a key point in the story (which actually happened). I really enjoyed and learned more from Sansom's afterword, where he describes his research, thought process, and objections to nationalism.

Criticisms: The characters all seem pretty flat and none of them act in unpredictable or surprising ways, which defuses the tension quite a bit. The book is overlong; it gets repetitive in several parts, bogging down the suspense. Overall, though, this is an enjoyable read and a worthy addition to the large sub-genre of alternate WWII stories. ( )
  sturlington | Jun 5, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
But, as in all the best war-related alternative fiction, the finger of suspicion also jabs uncomfortably at the reader. Sansom directly confronts the frequent, smug view in the UK that nazism and the Jewish Holocaust were inherently German perversions. The English, in this version, often prove just as susceptible to strong but psychotic leadership and the prospect of racist genocide. The song from Cabaret that poses the question "What Would You Do?" might be the theme tune to a tremendous novel that shakes historical preconceptions while also sending shivers down the spine.
Sansom has woven a thriller with the tale of a man's growth into moral courage, but he has done it with the compassion and richness that many literary writers should emulate. Every detail of this nightmare Britain rings true, from the way that morris dancing is televised as a cultural expression of nationalism to the absence of the name "Lyons" in Corner Houses. Cowardice and collaboration are everywhere.
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The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.  Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war.  If we can stand up to him all Europe may be free, and the life of the world will move forward into broad, sunlit uplands; but if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, and all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister,and perhaps more prolonged, by the lights of a perverted science. -- Winston Churchill, 18 June 1940.
To the memory of my parents, TREVOR SANSOM (1921-2000) and ANN SANSOM (1924-1990) who in 1939-45 endured the hardships and did their bit to defeat the Nazis.  And of ROSALITA, R.I.P. 19.2.2012
First words
Churchill was last to arrive.
"Whenever a party tells you national identity matters more than anything else in politics, that nationalism can sort out all the other problems, then watch out, because you're on a road that can end with fascism. Even if it doesn't, the idea that nationality's some sort of magic that can make other problems disappear, it's like believin' in fairies. And of course nationalists always have to have an enemy, the English or the French or the Jews, there always has tae be some other bugger that's caused all the problems."
There's a physicist in America who thinks the world we live in is only one of millions of parallel worlds, existing alongside each other, each different in tiny little ways. Maybe worlds where everyone is happy.
People dividing each other up according to nationality and religion, it's the worst thing, it causes nothing but misery and bloodshed.
Frank hated drink, it loosened people's inhibitions and inhibitions were the only things that kept them from savagery.
Didn't Gandhi say peaceful protest only works if those you're protesting against are capable of being shamed?
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Spy novel set in
Nineteen fifties alternate
Fascist-ruled Britain.

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1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints. There are terrible rumours too about what is happening in the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House. Defiance, though, is growing. In Britain, Winston Churchill's Resistance organization is increasingly a thorn in the government's side. And in a Birmingham mental hospital an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle for ever. Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given the mission by them to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country.… (more)

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