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Dominion by C. J. Sansom

Dominion (original 2012; edition 2012)

by C. J. Sansom

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5644417,647 (3.69)68
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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I am very interested in history but don't know enough about the period (and British history, specifically) to really judge how historically accurate the novel is. It felt real enough for me, but that's not saying much. For me the book was more of a stimulus to learn more about some of the political movements and leaders it mentions. I first came across Sansom's Winter in Madrid a few years ago by chance, really liked it and went on to read all his Shardlake novels. I don't know anything about Sansom's politics, really, but he is obviously some kind of socialist pays a lot of attention to class, which from my point of view recommends him.
I like Dominion. I'm not sure Sansom's writing is at its best here, but the novel works for me. I have to add I'm not actually reading it but listening to it as an audiobook, and the reader does an amazing job with the class and regional accents (again, as far as I can tell, having lived in the UK for three years and having been fluent in English since my childhood, but not being British). You get a lot of little history lessons, and one of the main functions of the characters seems to be to represent different political currents. I find Sansom's take on the inner life of fascists interesting, and there is a lot of lefty, class-conscious antifascist talk by various characters, which I quite enjoy. I read one long one star review of the book here on Goodreads, by this (judging by her blog) fairly conservative (racist, nationalist...) reader. She really hates the novel and ridicules it as best she can. I must say I think it's great that people like her dislike the book. ( )
  d.mang | Aug 14, 2016 |
Very readable as a page turning thriller but you need to bear with it for the first 100 pages as there's a lot of inevitable clunky exposition. Swanson has made a very carefully researched and persuasive academic guess about how things would have panned out politically and socially if Britain had sued for peace in 1940. It's not necessary but it probably helps to enjoy and follow the novel if you have some historical knowledge of 1939-1941. ( )
  stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
  johnrid11 | Feb 14, 2016 |
Dominion by CJ Sansom - Good

This is a totally different style and pace from the Shardlake books!

Interesting premise. An alternate history starting from 5pm on 9th May 1940 when Churchill fails to persuade and therefore does not become Prime Minister leaving Britain to surrender and sue for peace with Nazi Germany.

The story moves to 1952 and Britain has been subservient to Germany for 12 years. Hitler is still alive, Germany rules most of Europe with France, Britain etc nominally independent under German control, the war rages on with Russia in the east, Jews have been more or less cleared from Europe, but are still living relatively free in Britain and the resistance in Britain is being led by an elderly Churchill.

In amongst this, Frank's mother dies, his brother returns from America for the funeral. After drinking heavily, they argue and Frank is told 'a secret' which pushes him over the edge. From there it is a race against time for the Resistance and the Gestapo. Who will get to Frank first? Will he be rescued or will he fall into Nazi hands? What is the 'secret' and is it safe? As the London smog of 1952 swirls around, a desperate race is on.

The only issue with this book for me, was the length: 700 pages. Whilst most of them flew past, I still think a hundred or so could have been edited out.
( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
Have you ever wondered what might have happened if Britain had surrendered to Nazi Germany in 1940 rather than continue to fight? If so, C.J. Samson's latest novel, Dominion, just might be the book for you.

Dominion is set in Great Britain in 1952, but Samson's mid-20th century version of Britain is very different from the one we know from history. In 1940, faced with the likelihood of all out war with Germany, British politicians decided to give up the fight and entered into a peace treaty with Hitler. In the ensuing years British politics and society became increasingly authoritarian and nationalistic, with much of British policy being dictated by Berlin. Not everyone, however, supported the decision to appease Germany or appreciated the resulting German interference in British governance and, unsurprisingly, a resistance movement lead by Winston Churchill formed almost immediately. As Germany's hold over Britain tightens, word quietly spreads that Dr. Frank Muncaster, a scientist turned mental institution patient, may be in possession of a dangerous secret that the Germans would do anything to uncover and that Resistance forces vow to keep from Germany at any cost. In order to keep Frank out of German hands, Resistance spy and civil servant David Fitzgerald, an old school friend of Frank's, is called upon to perform his most dangerous mission yet: to rescue Frank from the mental hospital and get him safely out of the country. What follows is a perilous race against time, as David and his fellow Resistance fighters seek to accomplish their mission before the Germans, led by a relentless Gestapo agent, can get their hands on Frank.

Dominion is a well-written and skillfully imagined piece of alternate history. Samson does a good job of describing what Britain might have been like had Nazi Germany prevailed in 1940, and World War II never fully materialized. Through characters such as David Fitzgerald, who commits to the Resistance cause even though it means he has to keep secrets from his wife and betray those he works with, and Frank Muncaster, who recognizes that the secret he holds would have dangerous ramifications for the world if it got into the wrong hands, Samson illustrates the lengths that ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances will go to to fight for what they believe is right. Indeed, Samson's use of ordinary, everyday people as his principal characters is one of this novel's strengths, and I'm glad the focus of the book was on the mission of one small, low-level Resistance cell rather than on Resistance leadership.

While Dominion is billed as a novel of suspense, the narrative unfolds slowly rather than at the quick-pace normally expected from a suspense novel. Even though the book does contain some suspenseful scenes, especially towards the novel's end, other parts of the narrative are too drawn out making, at times, the book feel even longer than it's already 600 plus pages. Although I enjoyed the novel, I think I would have liked it even more had it been about 200 pages shorter.

Despite the fact that Dominion is a little too long, I think it is a good example of alternate history and, given I enjoyed Samson's writing style, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the book to fans of the alternate history genre.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Source: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (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 thriller 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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