Robert Conroy’s latest book begins with a premise familiar to fans of alternate history: an extended attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 that not only cripples the U.S. Pacific Fleet, but destroys the fuel bunkers and drydocks as well. Unable to maintain its fleet, the bulk of the U.S. Navy withdraws, leaving the Hawaiian Islands vulnerable to a hastily-assembled Japanese invasion. Their forces quickly conquer the poorly defended island, but the Japanese soon find themselves facing an organized guerrilla movement and an angry America determined to take the islands back.
This is Conroy’s fourth alternate history novel, and its structure is similar to those of his earlier works. The story is told through the experiences of a series of characters (most of them fictional), with events moving more rapidly towards what is nonetheless an outcome similar to that of the actual history. It’s an entertaining book, yet one which suffers by comparison with Harry Turtledove’s “Days of Infamy” series, which developed a similar premise into a much richer portrait of a Japanese-occupied Hawaii. Conroy posits a different set of events, but his characters are not as well developed and the pacing feels far more rushed, both of which cost his novel a degree of verisimilitude that is one of the great strengths of Turtledove’s work.
Ultimately, while not as good as his previous work, Conroy’s book is a solid entry in the alternate history field, one that shares the strengths and weaknesses of his earlier novels. Nitpickers will find a fair share of flaws, many of which are likely problems with editing rather than research and few of which detract from enjoying the work overall. For its plot, Conroy’s postulations on events, and its satisfying conclusion, this is a book that fans of the genre will enjoy.