[ Pdf Dominion ✓ young-adult-fantasy PDF ] by C.J. Sansom è 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 GrowingIn Britain, Winston Churchill S Resistance Organisation 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 Forever Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, Secretly Acting As A Spy For The Resistance, Is Given By Them The Mission To Rescue His Old Friend Frank And Get Him Out Of The Country Before Long He, Together With A Disparate Group Of Resistance Activists, Will Find Themselves Fugitives In The Midst Of London S Great Smog As David S Wife Sarah Finds Herself Drawn Into A World Terrifying Than She Ever Could Have Imagined And Hard On Their Heels Is Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer Gunther Hoth, Brilliant, Implacable Hunter Of Men Adverbs can kill a novel , David said quietly Yes, Natalia answered heavily I agree, Frank observed thoughtfully while smiling sadly Aaaargh It s a terrible trap but the dreadful excessive adverbiage slashes hard at the throat of this book from prolific writer CJ Sansom, draining the lifeblood out of a novel with a fascinating alternate history premise Counter factuals are all the rage these days, even creeping into genuine historical accounts I recently read a factual book on the Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis where he slipped a limited Nuclear attack by the USA on North Korea in 1951 into the start of one chapter, only to tell the reader two pages later that it had been a what if That one annoyed me I was even stupid enough to search on the internet before reaching Gaddis reveal to check whether such an attack had in fact taken place but Sansom s seems at first to be intriguing in the opening pages we learn that in May 1940, it is not Churchill who becomes Prime Minister it s Halifax, an appeaser who comes to terms with the Nazis A dozen years later in 1952, it is Beaverbrook who is PM of a British Client state of Nazi Germany whose own leader, an ailing Hitler, is still battling with the Russians on the Eastern Front That is the back story the front story contains a spy narrative weaved around nuclear secrets, a Resistance love story and an internecine feud within the ruling Nazi friendly British Government.
There is no doubt that Sansom has done his research as a voluminous Autobiographical note containing all the books which have influenced the final novel shows As a result there are plenty of moments when the 1952 setting is made believable the details are well rendered But it is the writing that lets the book down Historical backfill is forced into dialogue through unlikely questions authorial interventions pop into descriptions like a director peeping round the edge of a stage curtain saying And now Ophelia is feeling sad and is going to drown herself Perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of having to fill in the counter factual historical gaps over such a huge period as 12 years But the adverbs Not so forgiveable I can only think that, after all the research, the actual writing of this novel was rushed which is a great pity It is a tremendous achievement at 700 pages, and it may be that the reference to Sansom s bone marrow cancer in the note at the end of the book did indeed lead to a sense of urgency in the writing But, having read Sansom s earlier brilliant Winter in Madrid as well as one of his renowned Shardlake books I expected a better book gripping, taut, thrilling, and certainly better written One gripe the last 18 pages of the book are taken up with a historical note, which seeks to explain his counter factual view For fourteen pages, he does this relatively well but the final four pages are somewhat bizarrely taken up with a diatribe against the SNP and dismissing even the possibility that an independent future for Scotland could be anything other than a deeply retrograde step In a novel which imagines a Nazi dominated Britain in 1952, it is quite clear that Sansom is positing that Scotland s future might be dark and twisted This seems to me ridiculously negative and a facile interpretation of national identity in general it is also typical of the terrible fear uncertainty and doubt that those opposed to Scotland existing as an independent Nation State are currently peddling This all seemed unnecessary In summary, this is a book that frustrated me It s well conceived and enjoyable enough, but for me and I accept this is personal preference it fell down in a number of areas.
Final analysis if you like counter factuals, you ll love Dominion.
I was really surprised how poor this book was I ve given it two stars, but feel the second is probably a bit generous.
I have read CJ Sansom s Shardlake series, and loved them I ve also read his other non Shardlake book, Winter in Madrid, and thought it was excellent I have four major issues with this book, though Firstly, the story is not only told at such a plodding, dull pace, it is also not actually a particularly enthralling one in the first place The idea of a Nazi puppet state Britain following a peace settlement in 1940 is an interesting background for a book, but Sansom really didn t exploit it We re supposed to believe that the reason Frank Muncaster is being hunted is because, in the course of a relatively short conversation with his brother, he learned so much about the US atomic weapons program that, were it to fall into Germans hands, it would advance their nuclear effort several years Really He s a geologist, not a nuclear scientist.
Secondly, there is next to no subtlety You do not have to read between the lines to fish out the meaning of what is going on at any point in the book, it is all made so blatantly obvious The Germans for example, are all comic book Nazis.
Here s an example One SS man asks another one, what will happen to the British jews after they d been rounded up, and the answer is They ll be sent to the Isle of Wight, then sent out east Hopefully soon Arrangements are being made for their reception in Poland Getting the Auschwitz ovens up to full capacity The reader isn t stupid, he doesn t need that final sentence, it s just too obvious, totally unnecessary It happens throughout the book and just cartoonifies the whole thing.
Thirdly, the portrayal of the resistance is barely credible I ve not read many books about resistance organisations, but I d have thought that one of the cardinal rules was that people knew only as much as they needed to know, and nothing In fact, at one point in the book, one of the resistance members actually says this So why isn t it the case with the resistance in this book Here s one of many examples Having sprung their man from a mental institution in Birmingham, made their way through the hands of several different cells as they travel down to the south coast, the resistance man sheltering them in Brighton says to one of the group, I hear he was in a mental institution What kind of resistance organisation is this, that a bloke who runs a BB at the other end of the country knows an intimate detail of a case so important that the protagonists get an audience with Winston Churchill My fourth major problem was with the ending It read to me very much like the author didn t really know how he was going to end it until he started writing the last chapter It felt like it had been bodged together at the last moment What s , the 20 pages or so building up to it were incredibly dull, there was no tension as things unfolded at all, and the ultimate endgame was just a sequence of somewhat hard to believe events, with an ending which just felt totally random.
In the end, I was glad I d finally finished it, which is not something I ve ever felt with this writer s work before, which is what makes it all the disappointing.
A tough and powerful word, but an appropriate title for C J Sansom s new book Famous for his Shardlake Tudor series, here Sansom brings us to 1952 in an alternate, authoritarian Britain which made peace with Hitler in 1940 Not formally occupied, Britain is nevertheless dominated by the Nazi regime Its home grown milice a vastly expanded and violent Special Branch working hand in hand with the Gestapo dispensing brutality from the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House patrols the dismal and dirty streets.
Germany is still fighting a bitter, savage war against Russia, the British press, radio and television are filled with propaganda and British Jews face ever greater constraints.
The hero, David Fitzgerald, is a civil servant hiding his Jewishness and trying to preserve his marriage which is collapsing under the pressure of his secret life as a spy for the Resistance The antagonist, Gunther Hoth, a Gestapo policeman hunting Fitzgerald and his Resistance colleagues, is neither stupid nor inexperienced and almost becomes a sympathetic character This is no Dick Barton adventure with clear cut lines.
Dense with detail that makes its portrayal of everyday life so vivid, the action starts slowly, but by the end, the tension is almost unbearable Real events like Great Smog of 1952 are woven it to ramp up the threatening atmosphere and clever details about the alternate1950s are grafted on to real ones, such as British Corner Houses replacing Lyons Corner Houses Joe Lyons was, of course, Jewish.
The characters are beautifully, often painfully, drawn and fleshed out with past histories full of awkward relations, tiresome colleagues, happy and painful childhoods Complex, sometimes very frightened, the characters are always human Their dialogue mirrors this as well as driving the story forward.
Although interacting with the characters story, the overarching political plot does not reply upon their actions The seeming important secret is of negative importance In one way, this is unsatisfactory, in another it emphasises how the actions of ordinary people do not impact or contribute to the bigger one In this book, that would have been too pat.
Part adventure, part espionage, all encompassed by terrific atmosphere, this is an exciting, but moving account of people who become heroic but remain very human.
8 10The interesting thing with alternate history novels is how much you know about that time and what is factual and what is played upon I m no history buff but even I know that Germany didn t win World War 2 The prologue sets things up nicely with Churchill not becoming Prime Minister and all shit hitting the fan before being introduced to the main characters some 10 years later This is by far the longest audiobook I ve listened to and the narrator kept things moving nicely I never got bored and 20 hours didn t seem that long overall The story is interesting enough but the real interest is the world Sansom weaves in the what if scenario This is done really well and it never feels like things are glossed over for ease Things work well in this novel, it s not quite as good as his Shardlake series which I highly recommend but it was an interesting listen nonetheless.
A chilling tale of an alternate Earth where World War II ended in 1940 with Hitler victorious The bulk of the book takes place in the early 1950s in a Nazi occupied England.
I absolutely loved this book It horrified me but, importantly, made me think about WWII in ways I never had before.
This was my first taste of C.
J Sansom s work but, after this, I ll definitely be reading Highly recommended.
I have a theory about this book I think CJ Sansom wrote it a long time ago It may even have been his first attempt at a novel If so, I imagine it was rejected many times over for the perceived faults that I ll go into here and other reviewers have commented on Then, when the counterfactual genre became popular, the author or his agent decided it would be a good idea to dust Dominion off, give it a quick read through and get it published on the back of his now established reputation.
How else can we explain the clunky over expositionary dialogue, the repetitions of character traits, the over use of adverbs and the re descriptions of events All of these faults are typical of a newbie at the creative writing class We don t expect them from a writer with six novels under his belt.
Admittedly, the author has to deal with connecting the wires of his version of the world to that which existed in 1940 There are a lot of links to be made and they have to be explained somehow but this leads to some very bizarre conversations where one character is giving another a details of the past that the recipient would already know.
On the plus side I was able to suspend disbelief and was interested in the characters enough to hope they got away with it The tension built in waves but they all came crashing down in a denouement that undermined the whole premise of the plot.
Finally, something has to be said about the didactic passages about the dangers of nationalism that the author places at intervals through the book In these he tries to persuade the reader that nationalism is a sort of Nazism lite This is bizarre enough, but he goes on to state the case that the Scottish National Party in his alternate world is a particularly nasty example of Quisling style collaboration Sansom seems to be quite relaxed about this smearing the current SNP The other nationalist parties are not given this negative treatment and the three major UK parties have both resistance heroes and collaborators If the anti SNP bias in the narrative is not strange enough, in a note at the end of the book Sansom goes into a personal diatribe against the party and its introduction of the Scottish Independence referendum and he urges us to support the UK Better Together campaign This turned me against the book and its author It has no place at the end of a novel.
This is 1952 Britain has made peace with Germany after the Dunkirk debacle Britain is now governed by a crypto fascist regime headed by Max Aitken and Lord Beaverbrook, the press magnate Meanwhile, although War in Britain is over, the War between Russia and Germany still continues and there seems to be no sign of it abating The presence of the Resistance in Britain headed by Churchill is everywhere, for although the Germans do not occupy Britain, the nation is still very much under their sphere of influence, this is evident by the tightening Jewish laws, the roundups of Jews and the ubiquitous presence of armed police What is striking though is the fear, the utter fear that everyone is under The smallest infraction can lead to interminable interrogations, unimaginable torture, imprisonment maybe even death The Gestapo is everywhere striking fear deep in the hearts of every person in Britain In Germany Hitler is suffering from advanced stages of Parkinson s, a power struggle is about to ensue Who will succeed Hitler The personages are ordinary people trying their best to lead a normal life under these strained circumstances Everyone does their bit to shake off this terrible ordeal of the German occupation David Fitzgerald works as a Civil servant, smuggles sensitive papers to the Resistance Sarah, his wife a pacifist is not allowed to work but volunteers to aid children Then there is a ring of course of pro resistance people scattered in the Bureaucracy who regularly spy for the Resistance There are dormant cells which suddenly turn active when the need arises It goes without saying that the Germans have their own people entrenched as Civil Servants Moles and counter moles abound Everyone tries to do their bit sometimes with grave danger to their own life Throw in the geologist Frank Muncaster in this ring of fear and terrible uncertainty Muncaster a scientist, has a maimed hand, an odd smile and is terribly fearful of everything He however, leads a peaceful and decent life entrenched in his lab, likes his nice job and is pretty much happy Just when things are going on quite well for Frank, his mother dies and his brother Edgar comes down for her funeral from the United States of America Edgar, a physicist, brags that he is part of an extremely sensitive project Edgar seems to be drinking heavily and despite his good job is deeply in need of money So they decide to sell Mother s house For some reason an argument ensues between Frank and Edgar, who in a fit of bravado and drink tells Frank about the extremely sensitive project that he is working on, this drives Frank utterly berserk, he pushes Edgar out of a window and goes totally stark raving mad Everyone hears Frank screaming, repeating over and over, the World is coming to an end all the while trashing his apartment, sadly for Frank his descent into hell has just begun he is packed off to a lunatic asylum His incarceration in the lunatic asylum is just the beginning of his horrors, all of a sudden everyone, just about everyone wants to lay their grubby paws on poor Frank The Resistance, the Germans, the Americans even Churchill want sad Frank for themselves Every side risks their lives to get hold of Frank everyone wants to know, what the Great Big Secret is all about In a fit of camaraderie, Frank reveals the secret to David who is trying to get Frank off to America with the help of other resistance workers Now I wonder, it is no secret that the Americans and the Germans were in the race to build an extremely powerful weapon to have an edge over the other side, victory would then be assured for the side in possession of the most powerful weapon The British were aware too, they had intercepted a lot of documents that had something to do with obtaining raw material for the extremely powerful weapon from Canada Surely, Edgar, the brother could not have revealed much of the process to Frank during a drunken brawl All he could have said was I helped develop an extremely powerful weapon, that will annihilate the World but that is hardly a Secret , brilliant scientists on both sides must have been aware of the devastating effects of such extremely powerful weapons To risk men and material to kidnap a sad geologist in the throes of a nervous breakdown so as to obtain a Dreadful Secret leaves me wondering and gaspingI did read a lot of Reviews of this book, these have enriched me immensely, I have read brilliant arguments about Britain during the what if scenario and comparisons to Britain now,in the present age I have read about Fascism, comparisons of it to different forms of Fascism in Europe To the amazing reviewers who taught me such a great deal, Thank you.
Here are the facts The year is 1952 In the east the German war with Russia, now eleven years old, shows no sign of ending On a line roughly extending from Lake Ladoga in the north west to the Caspian Sea in the south east, the struggle is in stalemate, a contest punctuated by blows and counter blows which settle nothing In the west Britain, having made peace with Germany after the brief war of 1939 40, is governed by a crypto fascist regime headed by Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook, the press magnate Oswald Mosley, whose fascist party made substantial gains in the rigged parliamentary election of 1950, is Home Secretary, in charge of the normal police and black shirt recruited auxiliaries Enoch Powell is Secretary of State for India, where Britain is still fighting a rearguard action to retain the Jewel in the tawdry Crown Under the Treaty of Berlin, which ended the western war, the Isle of Wight has been turned over to Germany as a base In Berlin, Hitler, suffering from increasingly acute Parkinson s disease, is nearing the end The future is uncertain, with no clear succession There are those who want to end the hopeless war in the east there are those, chiefly in the SS, who want to carry on the struggle against the Slav sub humans until that elusive final victory We are, of course, in past futures, a foreign country which did things differently we are in the country of C J Sansom s Dominion, a what if novel along the lines of Philip K Dick s Man in the High Castle, Len Deighton s SS GB and Robert Harris Fatherland.
The premise is a plausible one The novel opens with a real historical scene, the meeting in the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street on 9 May, 1940 Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister, has announced his intention to resign, discredited by Britain s disastrous campaign against the Germans in Norway The contenders are Halifax and Churchill Halifax, the Foreign Minister and a noted appeaser, is favoured by Chamberlain, the King and most of the Tory Party In real history he demurs In this history he does not After the German invasion of the West, and the disaster of Dunkirk, Halifax makes peace, entering into a treaty of friendship with Britain s former enemy Churchill withdraws, eventually to lead a Resistance movement against the new Vichy style regime, headed in succession by Halifax, David Lloyd George and finally Beaverbrook Dominion is the first book that I ve read by C J Sansom, though I m told that he is well respected for his Shardlake series, historical novels set in Tudor England He has a doctorate in history so, if that s any measure, he is qualified enough to treat the subject with imaginative insight and a high degree of verisimilitude and empathy Does he Well, now, that s the key question At the risk of trying your patience I m going to begin this review by looking at the justification for the premises contained in the novel, set out in a Historical Note at the very end Actually, if you are at all interested in the context, I would suggest that you begin at the end It s the key to all that goes before It shows the author as a man with a mission He has, in other words, a political intent his novel is not merely for shallow entertainment Rather it has a didactic purpose, namely to warn you against the dangers of nationalism and fascism in the real historical present by showing you nationalism and fascism in a fictitious historical past I suppose that this book might be compared, at least superficially, with It Can t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis 1935 novel warning of the dangers of fascism in America It could have happened here, that s Sansom s point But could it have happened in the way he describes in Dominion You see, what he gives us is an Anglo Saxon version of Petain and Laval s Vichy state It s really all based on a shallow idiocy of perspective, if I can put it like that George Orwell, who also feared a form of fascism in England, was altogether subtle than the inept Mister Sansom, at pains to advance his left wing credentials What sickens me about left wing people, especially left wing intellectuals , Orwell wrote, is their utter ignorance of the way things actually happen My own doubts were raised early Beaverbrook, in real history, was a close friend of Churchill and an effective minister in his wartime cabinet In Dominion this same Beaverbrook is a man prepared to hand over Britain s Jewish community to the Nazis In justifying his portrayal, Samson quotes Clement Atlee, the post war Labour prime minister, who said that the press baron was the most evil person he had ever met Really Is this the same Beaverbrook that Michael Foot, a former Labour leader and respected leftwing journalist, describes with such warmth and affection in his essay collection Debts of Honour Then there is Enoch Powell, the b te noir of Samson and his kind His real credentials were impeccably anti fascist, an opponent of appeasement and a man who returned to England from a comfortable academic position in Australia specifically to fight against the Nazis The idea of him collaborating with Oswald Mosley is laughably absurd Samson has simply advanced beyond his fictitious present to a real future, to Powell s 1960s warning over the possible effects of mass immigration He has then projected back again for, as we all know, concerns about immigration equals fascism Powell, who only entered Parliament in 1950, was an admirer of British rule in India, that much is true, but by the early 1950s his imperial convictions were weakening The depiction of him in Dominion is, quite frankly, childishly inexact By Sansom s measure Churchill might just as readily have been Secretary of State for India in a Beaverbrook cabinet, given his own past political commitments, his past refusal to countenance any form of independence for India So, what is there to say about Samson s imagined Britain It s a drab place, economically depressed, a country in debt, a country that is no than a satellite of a Continental superpower, a country where independence is all but a fiction, a country with an uncertain future This is Vichy Britain, the only model the author seems to understand, a country whose cowardly leaders are prepared to hand over some of its citizens to an uncertain fate But Vichy was not the only model to hand In real history there was Finland, an ally of Germany in the war against Russia, but one that preserved its democratic polity and refused to play any part in the Holocaust Then there is Denmark, the model protectorate, a country occupied by the Germans but one that still managed to undermine Nazi policy towards the Jews It s perfectly true, in a world of limitless possibilities, that Samson s alternate is just as valid as any other alternate, but does it stand up to scrutiny My alternate is that if Britain had exited the war in 1940, instead of 1945, it would not have accumulated the massive debts, particularly to America, that so crippled its post war economic performance Even in Sansom s world the country would surely have done much better There is no objective reason why it should have been so poor Although allied to Germany, it was not involved in the war with Russia Why on earth would the Germans have erected tariff barriers against British produce when such produce, particularly in armaments, would have been vital for the continuing campaign in the east Sansom s model makes no logical sense The truth is that Sansom s depiction of a sad, indebted, economically and politically dependant nation is far closer to our contemporary political realities a grubby Britain, a country increasingly uncertain of itself, a country falling to bits, a country tied to the European Union, an organisation the author clearly approves of The Historical Note, incidentally, which starts off objectively enough, ends up as a carpet chewing rant against nationalism in general and would you believe it Scottish nationalism in particular Nationalism and patriotism, in Sansom s view, are close kin to fascism We are back in the mental world of those 1930s intellectuals who, when it came to understanding fascism, understood exactly nothing I ve tried your patience too far The historical stuff may be of no interest at all to you You have one question only what of the novel, what of the story is it any good Yes, well, it is in part, now and again a bit of a page turner Ignore the political manipulation unfortunately I can t and you might actually enjoy it The problem is that it is overlong and repetitive More than that, the whole superstructure rests on an astonishingly weak base The core plot device, the heart of the story, is as weak as marshmallow It centres on one Frank Muncaster, a geologist, who has learned a dreadful secret that turns out to be no secret at all I m not going to tell you what the dreadful secret is, simply that the Germans are anxious to find out, though what earthly good it could have done them is anybody s guess Muncaster learns his dreadful secret from his physicist brother, who happens to be working with the Americans In the contretemps that follows, the said brother is pushed out of the window of Muncaster s flat, while he proceeds to wreck the place why , all the time shouting about the end of the world It turns out that Muncaster is the sort of fellow that a goose would say boo to, so his actions, to say the least, are just a tad out of character But on his hissy fit all else follows the Gestapo follow, the British fascist police follow, the British resistance follow Churchill himself follows Quick, let s find Frank our war in Russia depends on his dreadful secret Quick, let s find Frank let s discover the dreadful secret or get him away safely to America I m really trying not to laugh as I write this, but there is so much in Dominion that is laughable the lost and found chase through a thick London fog, Keystone Cops style, is particularly funny Poor Muncaster, freed from a loony bin, is aided by an assortment of individuals David Fitzgerald, a civil servant and member of the resistance who befriended the forlorn chap oh, just how many times do we heed to be reminded of his rictus smile while they were at Oxford together He is aided by Ben, a nurse at a lunatic asylum and a homosexual Scottish communist, also a member of the resistance, ye ken He is aided by, of all organisations, the Fire Brigade, an organisation with impeccable left wing credentials, which rides to the rescue through the fog And so it goes on, from high tension to low comedy, a series of increasingly implausible encounters The scene on the beach below Rottingdean on the Suffolk coast takes verisimilitude to the Senate House, the SS headquarters in London, and tortures it out of existence In the end Frank takes himself and the dreadful secret into oblivion, an action, if taken earlier, that would have saved several hundred wearisome pages As a novel Dominion is real boys own stuff, difficult even for boys to swallow In almost 570 pages of text the only believable character, the only character with any real human depth, is the world weary Gunther Hoth, the Gestapo agent on Muncaster s tail There would seem to me to be a spot of plagiarism here, for he is simply a ideologically committed dimension of Xavier March, the detective from Robert Harris Fatherland.
Dominion is based on a bogus historical premise it s based on the character assassination of real people As a novel it s too long, it s repetitive, the characterisations are weak, the encounters unbelievable, the narrative plodding, as thick at point as the London fog and the fog in the author s mind Samson does not write badly he just doesn t write very well If he were not already Mister Shardlake I am convinced that this book would have gathered rejection slips rather than accolades from the likes of the Guardian and the Independent.
Quite frankly, it s a shallow and immature book, no than a vehicle for the writer s political prejudices If you like alternate history and political thrillers go to Fatherland instead It s infinitely superior.
Thought provoking, highly atmospheric, novel.
Also, wonderful end papers maps of Europe and of the world in this fictional 1952.