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Red Inferno: 1945: A Novel by Robert Conroy
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Red Inferno: 1945: A Novel (2010)

by Robert Conroy

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1569117,895 (3.7)2
In April of 1945, the Allies advance to Berlin to prevent Stalin from taking over Europe, and when Stalin retaliates with the entire Soviet army, Eisenhower employs a strategic maneuver of retreat to allow time for Allied air superiority to give them a fighting chance.

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3 stars.

As purely an entertaining read, it met that goal, but as an alternate history, it fell incredibly flat. There were simply too many wild assumptions that didn't make sense.

First, the author stated several times that Germany invaded Russia in 1940 (in actuality, it was 1941). Not an egregious error, but it showed that there wasn't any sort of research was conducted in preparation to writing this book. An editor should have caught this one.

Second, the way that the author portrays the American military as being stretched thin to the point of being unable to provided any backup to the troops already in Europe was completely wrong. The American military was gearing up to invade Japan in 1945 (in case the atomic bomb didn't work), and these troops could have easily been redirected. This was a major error in the book, and hard to overlook.

Third, I find it highly unlikely that American troops would have taken the Germans in as allies so soon after the atrocities they found in the concentration camps. I just don't see this happening, even against a greater military force such as the Soviet Union.

Aside from these errors, it was an entertaining read. Just don't take it as an alternate history that "could have" happened. ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 7, 2018 |
Credible scenario of what might have happened if the Allies took on the Soviets at the end of WW2.

Although appears to be thoroughly researched it did keep mentioning the German invasion of Russia as occurring in 1940 not 1941.

Other than that a good holiday read. ( )
  mancmilhist | Aug 28, 2014 |
The 'What if?' premiss of Red Inferno is a good one and given the state of affairs in the final months of WWII, one that was entirely possible.

What if, Conroy wonders, while they rushed to capture Berlin, hopefully capture Hitler alive and at the same time exact the maximum possible revenge for the atrocities committed against them - both real and imagined - the Russians had decided the chance and opportunity was there to continue on past Berlin? What if they had decided to continue the war past the shut-off date we all know and continue onwards to take the whole of Germany, then continue on even further into Holland, Belgium and ultimately France? What if they had decided the Eastern European countries they captured were not enough of a buffer zone and that the chance was actually there to 'export' the Communist revolution to the whole of Europe? How might that have unfolded? What might have happened to the (mostly) US forces who were already a long way in to Germany at the time (even though their leaders were duped by Stalin into holding back from a full-power rush to Berlin themselves)? How might the US have reacted and how might the Russians have been stopped (presuming of course, our sympathies lie with the West here, shall we say)?

That's the set-up and a good one it is at that.

However, while I enjoyed reading the book and at no time found it poor reading, I did feel that it was one of missed opportunities. One which, in better hands could have been a lot more satisfying. Conroy is an entirely competent writer, it seems, but the story deserved someone better. He shows the broad picture, the big plans, the leaders and the generals deciding policy, but he also manages to focus in on the soldiers and the (German) civilians caught at the sharp end and paying in their own blood, the price of the generals' broad strategic sweeps.

As I say, there's no shortage of interesting ideas, but perhaps my problems with the book can be pretty much traced back to the fact that it just isn't long enough. This can't be a short story and with so many different elements necessarily having to be involved, it really needed to be (at least) twice as long to fully do the story justice. To fully develop the ideas, possibilities (and not least) the characters, but also the ethical questions raised and the psychological possibilities he begins, but hasn't space or possibly ability, to develop properly. So, not deep enough, not broad enough and not long enough. A 'what if?' alternative history that was entertaining enough, but left me wondering 'what if, it'd been written by Max Hastings or Anthony Beevor?' ( )
  Speesh | Mar 29, 2014 |
Truman decides to take Berlin instaead of letting the Russians have it triggering a war between the US and Russia. A really interesting book ( )
  dswaddell | Mar 23, 2014 |
Red Inferno 1945
By Robert Conroy
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published In: New York City, NY, USA
Date: 2010
Pgs: 353

REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Summary:
1945. The collapse of Nazi Germany. What if Stalin had chosen to take what he wanted rather than stop where he and his allies had agreed? Americans and Europeans caught in the crucible, enemies becoming allies as a new conqueror roars across the battle scarred landscape of Western Europe. Behind the scenes in Moscow and Washington. Politics in wartime. Death on the battlefield. Arms, armor, and the actions of spies and partisans.

Genre:
fiction, alternate history, world war 2

Why this book:
I love alternate history books.

This Story is About:
courage, duty, politics, the alternate pathways of history, cruelty, war

Favorite Character:
Colonel Burke, an academic forced into a position where his knowledge leads to a horrible, necessary occurrence.

Least Favorite Character:
The Russian elitists who interact with Bazarin and the political officers, in a book where there is a backstory to most of the characters these come across as cardboard villains.

Character I Most Identified With:
Tony the Toad, tank driver, stuck behind enemy lines acting as a subversive, doing what he has to, doing his duty.

The Feel:
Through the early chapters, the story isn’t very immersive. I’m not being transported into the world of the book. War is hell. Sometimes, war stories are hell, even when they are good.

Favorite Scene:
When Tony the Toad is sneaking around after he survives the destruction of his tank brigade on the point of Miller Force and the Russian NKVD officer walks around the corner like he owns the night only to find Tony’s knife blade swinging for this throat a second before he registered that someone else was on the street with him. Tony can’t get back to Allied lines and takes refuge with a slowly growing group of subversive former concentration camp escapees, all trapped behind Russian lines just like he is.
The scene that has Armenian USSR General Bazarin dealing with an unblooded, politically connected Colonel there to checkover his handling of the Potsdam Pocket and the shelling that the Americans there have been raining on passing Russian tank columns that get too close.
The scene where Ike, Patton, and Bradley are discussing the use of German soldiers in limited and unlimited fashion to man certain weapons platforms against the Soviets. And Bradley slipping Ike a note about what Patton is already using those soldiers for. It feels right. It feels in character for the three men. Well done.

Settings:
Washington DC; The River Elbe; Berlin and environs; Potsdam, Germany; Moscow; River Leine; River Wesser; Dortmund, Germany

Pacing:
The early chapters feel choppy. Lot of good info and world building, but it feels far away, not invading my brain like I want a story to. The book doesn’t draw me back to it like I like stories to. For now, I’m still interested in what ultimately happens, but not so interested in the slog of getting there. This may be my fault in that I’ve read a ton of WW2 stories over the years and I judge them rather harshly due to the plethora of other stories in the wide genre. The pacing does pick up later in the book.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:
There’s no damned way that Josef Stalin would have ceded overall military command to Zhukov. Lip service giving him the title without the power, yeah, I could see Stalin doing that. But letting his fingers be withdrawn from the pulse, nope.
I hope this story isn’t about to fall into the modern cliche trap with the story disposition of France possibly suing for a separate peace with the USSR after the US and UK have to make a deal with the surviving devils of Nazi Germany in a marriage of convenience in the face of the massive Russian Army pushing Eisenhower’s armies back across Europe.l. I don’t like the French surrender monkey jokes and perception that has taken a stand in modern parlance.

Last Page Sound:
Sweet ending.

Author Assessment:
I wanted this book to knock my socks off. I’m very interested in the other eras that Mr. Conroy has explored in his books. If this one doesn’t pick up as we go through, I may have to remove the others from my to-read list. I’m still on the fence about this. The other books by Mr. Conroy will have to be on a case-by-case basis.

Editorial Assessment:
There is a tendency to want to tell other stories within the context of the war story. Some of these reach the level of a story in their own right against the backdrop of war while others strain at it and end up as repeated vignettes looking in on the lives of people in wartime.

Did the Book Cover Reflect the Story:
Russian medal on the cover. Would have liked it better with the medal in the background with tanks and soldiers exchanging fire beneath artillery bursts

Song the Story Reminds me of or That Plays in my Head While Reading:
Highwire by The Rolling Stones

Illustrations:
No

Hmm Moments:
I don’t trust Natalie Holt, White Russian expat. Hope she isn’t a spy. But having read a lot of these types of stories, it wouldn’t surprise me if she was. And she has Hoover’s FBI sniffing around her.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
It’s alright

Disposition of Book:
Irving Public Library, Irving, TX

Why isn’t there a screenplay?
There isn’t a big alternate reality/alternate history movie category. I would guess that there is a snowball’s chance in hell that this would ever get made.

Casting call:
Natalie Holt could be Cameron Diaz or Angelina Jolie. They could communicate the smokiness and unattainableness of the character and the hotness that she reveals to Burke.
I would like to see Sam Rockwell as Colonel Burke.
Bruce Willis as General Patton.
George Clooney as General Eisenhower.
John Noble as Field Marshal Alexander.

Would recommend to:
Alternate history buffs ( )
  texascheeseman | Nov 5, 2013 |
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Despite both books including 1945 in their titles, the book Red Inferno: 1945 and the book 1945 are not the same books/stories/works.

1945 involves an alternative history book that focuses on the Japanese, and
Red Inferno: 1945 involves an alternative history book that focuses on the Germans.
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