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46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
The real "what-if" in Robert Conroy's 1942 is WHAT IF IT HAD BEEN AS TOLERABLE AS HIS EARLIER 1901. I am not going to be nearly as patronizingly polite as the other reviewers here because someone has to tell it like it is.

Simply put 1942 just isn't very good. As "alternative history" goes; it is quite wooden and 2-dimensional. Much of the Japanese dialog read as ill-timed as if one were watching some Japanese monster movie with a cheesy over-dubbed English translation. Too many sloppily composed sex scenes and laughable caricatures of "evil Japanese" as heinous torturers.

Then there is the very glaring poor research scholarship. Mr. Conroy is absolutely clueless when it comes to naval warfare of the period. Only F4F-4 Wildcats (presumably since his model has 6 wing mounted mg's) and A6N "Zeros" are ever featured by name. What? No Val's, Kate's, Dauntlesses, or Devastator's? Wow, this really is an alternate universe! Night CAP patrols and night combat missions? Not even remotely possible with those aircraft of mid-42.

The Japanese super-battleship Yamato is mentioned time & time again but in the closing chapter her sister-ship the Musashi suddenly gets a one-liner cameo as she sinks in the middle of Pearl Harbor from a surprisingly uber-effective US air attack. The only problem is that Robert Conroy imagines that she sailed to Hawaii a month before she was even commissioned and 4-5 months before she completed her shakedown trials. Good god Mr. Conroy, you claim to be a history teacher; feel free to mix in a little research before you sit down to write your next one.

One final ax to grind...

Very poorly imagined tactical and strategic doctrines throghout. No way FDR could have continued to insist on his Europe-First policy with the scenario as described in 1942. The entire West Coast laid bare with the inability of ships to continue to stage and patrol from Pearl? The real panic of our timeline was bad enough but in 1942 Robert Conroy insists that that the Atlantic Fleet would stayed right where it was with an unprotected West Coast. USN fleet carriers sent to the Southwest Pacific? Coral Sea fought almost as it actually was? What? Is the fall of the Hawaiian Islands occurring in a time bubble?

The Japanese bottling up their entire fleet in the cozy confines of Pearl just so it can sneak-attacked by a motley force of SUPER Wildcat fighter-bombers and decrepit Boeing flying boats just defies explanation but it matters not in Mr. Conroy's contrived universe. He simply waves magic wand of pen & paper and all just falls conveniently into place.

Of course Pearl now cluttered by the detritus of TWO destroyed fleets is completely useless to anyone as an operating base.

Be forewarned, save your $10-$15 and avoid this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2009
I was never much a fan of Robert Conway's AH novels. The reasons for this lies with his first ever attempt into the AH genre with "1901," an AH story full of great ideas but bound by terrible execution. The stories end left me with a foul taste in my mouth, with the people over throwing the Kiser after the war with the US goes nowhere, and then blaming the Jews for the loss of the war. So, the argument goes a little something like this. "We, the people of Germany, overthrew the Kiser, because the Jews lost the War!" Do you see how retarded that sounds?

It took me a while to ever get interested in ANYTHING Conway brought out after that, but now, we have his latest venture, 1942.

1942 revolves around the idea of Yamamoto, being present during the strike on Pearl Harbor, thus launching a devastating 3rd strike. After which, the Japanese High Command realize what a sitting duck Hawaii is, and decide to return with an invasion force. Now, for those of you who are a stickler for history will laugh at the idea of Japan invading Hawaii, because anyone who knows anything about the Pacific War will tell you Japan couldn't pull it off. But, we the readers are asked to forget about the logistical nightmare Japan would've faced and wonder what would have happened IF the Japanese somehow magically had the capabilities to pull this off.

Again, this can be acceptable, IF the writer can distract the reader with a good book. However for those of you who are expecting me to savage it, brace you're self for a bit of a shock, because it's not that bad a book; but I do ask it to stay right where it is. Conway doesn't just lock himself into Hawaii, he jumps around a bit, from Admirals and Generals, to PM's and Presidents. This breaks up the action a bit and provides a nice insight as to what happens next. While the occupation of the Hawaiian Islands is the meat of the story, this shifting around to different locations helps the whole AH Occupation theme so that it doesn't wear out its welcome, like Harry Turtledove managed to accomplish in his "Days of Infamy" series.

Another interesting aspect that's explored is because the Japanese have invaded Hawaii, their conquest suffers else where, although not by much, it's nice to see Conway actually thinking ahead.

However, this book isn't without its glaring flaws. The story while short and to the point, seems painfully rushed at some points, and the battles have started and ended before you even realize what's happened. Some characters feel like they've just been tossed in, and there's very little divergence from Our Time Line, almost as if it's just business as usual. Things happen almost parallel to events that happened to us, and it doesn't feel like AH but just our WW2 with different wall paper. The biggest nit pick I have with this book is that the battle for Hawaii for when it's lost to the Japanese and retaken by the Americans is bloody quick. At least Turtledove had the decency to make his battles for Hawaii last a few months, while 1942 by contrast ends the whole thing within a matter of weeks.

So to top it all up, 1942 is okay, but nothing special. This plot has been done before and done better, but if you're a fan of Alternative History then you'll enjoy this book. That is if you can look past it's flaws.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2009
Alternative History novels must be completely logical where "real" History sometime isn't as believable. Robert Conroy creates real people to follow during his novels. 1942 has the Japanese sending the "Third Wave" of attack on Pearl Harbor. The Third Wave destroys the Dry Docks and Fuel Tanks at Pearl. This sets up the logical retreat from Pearl Harbor for the U.S. Navy and for the Japanese to decide to invade Hawaii. The ending which I will NOT spoil for the readers is completely logical and emotionally satisfying.
Readers who have enjoyed Newt Gingrich & William R. Forstchen books "Pearl Harbor-A novel of December 8th" and "Days of Infamy" along with Harry Turtledove's "Days of Infamy (Pearl Harbor)" and "End of the Beinning" must buy Robert Conroy's "1942"!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 25, 2009
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 last book, 1945: A Novel, Conroy's latest 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.
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I enjoyed "1942: A Novel" a lot. Perhaps the one thing that I did not like about it was an over-emphasis on sexual violence, but that's just me. One thing that I will give this novel credit for is that author Conroy does not sugercoat the inhumanity of the Japanese armed forces during World War II. The fact is that Japan's armed forces set a standard for inhuman atrocities that have rarely been matched in modern warfare and the countries at war with Japan had good reason to fight back as hard as they were able. In this novel Japan's vaunted Code of Bushido is seen for what it really was: a self-serving pretext for committing war-crime atrocities. If Japan had occupied Hawaii as this novel supposes American civilians would have been fully subjected to these war crimes as indeed captured American soldiers and sailors were in the actual war. God only knows what kind of retribution Japan would have received then.

In this novel Conroy postulates that Japan's Pearl Harbor strike, which in our history consisted of two attack waves, is followed by a third wave that takes out the fuel storage and docking facilities at Pearl Harbor. The Pacific Fleet's basing in Hawaii becomes untenable and America abandons Hawaii to a hasty Japanese invasion. Roosevelt nonetheless pursues his "Germany First" policy, which limits America's ability to respond to the Japanese invasion of sovereign American territory.

Personally I do not believe that Roosevelt could or would have followed a "Germany First" policy had Japan invaded Hawaii. The public and Congress would never have stood for it. In fact, in our history the "Germany First" strategy was given more lip service than reality. But that is just my opinion.

This novel features pretty good character development, a linear plot, and a resounding conclusion that I found thoroughly satisfying. I liked this novel a lot and it is a pretty good example of the alternate history genre. Recommended. RJB.
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on October 23, 2013
Robert Conroy's 1945 is one of my favorite alternate history novels. It was brutal, fun, fast paced and felt realistic. As for 1942, it was fun, but it had some problems. First off, I had already read both Harry Turtledove's (Days of Infamy/End of the Beginning) and Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen's (Pearl Harbor: a Novel of December 8th/Days of Infamy) very similar takes on the same alternate historical setting (WWII era Hawaiian Islands), and this book doesn't really cover much in the way of new ground.

The Good: The whole guerrilla war aspect was probably the most interesting plot point of the book as it one of the few things that wasn't really explored in the previously mentioned novels. I liked the equal focus on both the U.S. Army and Navy's roles in events as the previously mentioned books tended to concentrate on one or the other. Also, it was nice to see some Japanese ex-soldiers help out the American resistance.

The Bad: Most of the characters in the book are a little one-dimensional, especially some of the Japanese antagonists. The biggest flaw however is the ending. It just felt too neat and rushed. I honestly think Conroy simply ran out of time and had wrap everything up in a pinch.

The So-So: I would of liked more pages of some certain characters; namely Spruance, Yamamoto, and some of the civilian fighters who just came out of nowhere at the end. It also would have been nice to actually spend a decent amount of time with Tojo and his administration in Tokyo, something none of previously mentioned books cover at all.

All in all, I enjoyed this book but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't a hardcore WWII Alt-History buff, especially if you've already read Conroy's 1945 or any of the previously mentioned (and superior) novels.
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on April 30, 2013
In this thrilling novel, author Robert Conroy explores the question of what would have happened if Japan had launched a successful third wave against Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In Conroy's book, Japan succeeds in not only destroying the American Pacific fleet, but the repair shops, dry docks, and fuel storage tanks are destroyed as well. Soon, Japanese forces have occupied the islands and the remnants of the American Pacific fleet have fled to the relative safety of California. The Japanese secret police, led by Col. Omori, have begun a reign of terror against many of the civilians, especially those of white descent.

Omori has chosen Alexa Sanderson, whose husband died on the USS Oklahoma, to be his mistress. Alexa sees no choice but to give in to Omori, believing that this is her only chance at survival. Jake Novacek, who has befriended Alexa after her husband's death, has been sent to the big island of Hawaii to rescue Commander Joe Rochefort, who has secret knowledge of Japanese codes. Upon Rochefort's successful rescue, Jake has remained and, along with the help of volunteers, has begun a covert war against the Japanese. However, Jake has to deal with not only the Japanese, but betrayal from some Americans who have become sympathetic to the Japanese.

Since so many of the inhabitants of Hawaii were either Japanese or were descended from Japanese, or were asian (the Hawaiians),the Japanese thought these people would no longer consider themselves part of the American society or culture and join the Japanese side. This miscalculation in great part along with their arrogance led to their ultimate defeat.

What I found particularly interesting in this account was the sheer brutality of the Japanese warriers of that time. The laws of Bushido, of the Samurai, allowed for no remorse. Kill or be killed was the mantra. This caused the Japanese to look down upon others as inferior and lesser in their abilities. Although they saw the vast numbers of Americans who could certainly overwhelm the much smaller forces of the Japanese, they refused to believe they could be defeated in battle.

The Navy has also made plans to strike back at Hawaii. Col. Jimmy Doolittle has been assigned to convert several flying boats into bombers, take off from California, and attack the Japanese fleet, which has now entered Pearl Harbor. The remnants of the American fleet have assembled off the island of Samoa, and are steaming toward Pearl Harbor in hopes of attacking the Japanese ships. A small group of American fighters are also ready to attack the Japanese. An American submarine has been stationed outside the entrance to Pearl Harbor to attack Japanese shipping. If all of these elements are successful, the Japanese could be driven from Hawaii. If they fail, the Japanese will destroy the remnants of American resistance. Which will it be?

I enjoyed this book very much. I thought that the story was well-conceived, and the character development is very good. The reader can truly relate to the characters in the book. I thought Conroy's portrayal of Roosevelt as a worn-out leader looking for a ray of hope was truly accurate as to the way FDR actually felt at the time. Also, I liked the way Conroy changed Admiral Spruance's personality from the passive observer to the aggressive attacker. The portrayal of the Japanese characters. especially Col. Omori, was very good, and Conroy pulled no punches with his descriptions of the Japanese atrocities committed against civilians.

The only thing that I found to be a little implausible was the idea that the Japanese would bottle up their entire fleet in the cozy confines of Pearl just so it can sneak-attacked like the US fleet was on Dec 7th. By doing so that would have left Pearl with the remains of two destroyed fleets which would have made it useless to use for a base of operations for the US fleet for months.

Overall I give this book my highest recommendation. Fans of alternative history will definitely want to read "1942".
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on December 9, 2012
I'm a little surprised by the inconsistency in reviews of this book. I thought the author, Robert Conroy, had a great knowledge of the history of the tragedy that was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He also had a great vision of what might have been.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the book opens just before the attack. Conroy goes to great lengths to show how the lack of cooperation between Army and Navy set up Pearl Harbor for the attack. This is all well documented history.

He diverges after the attack. Rather than withdraw, allowing the US to enter the war in the Pacific, the Japanese return, taking out the fuel storage effectively cutting off any chance for the US to bring more ships in as there would be no way to refuel.

What I found particularly interesting in this account was the sheer brutality of the Japanese warriers of that time. The laws of Bushido, of the Samurai, allowed for no remorse. Kill or be killed was the mantra. This caused the Japanese to look down upon others as inferior and lesser in their abilities. Although they saw the vast numbers of Americans who could certainly overwhelm the much smaller forces of the Japanese, they refused to believe they could be defeated in battle.

Since so many of the inhabitants of Hawaii were either Japanese or were descended from Japanese, or were asian (the Hawaiians), they could be see the potential that these people would no longer consider themselves part of the Japanese society or culture. This miscalculation in great part along with their arrogance led to their ultimate defeat.

I was very impressed with Mr. Conroy's writing style and knowledge of the subject. In fact, I've already started and almost finished another book in his series, 1945.

My only suggestion for the author is this. While I am certainly not a prude by any standards, there are several scenes where main characters engage in sexual activity that seems out of place in the book. I'm not sure if these were included to interest some of his readers, or to lean to the whim of his publishers, or if he chose to do so on his own. Sex is fine in books when it makes sense. But, I saw little reason for some of these parts of the book other than for the sake of bringing sex into the book.

All in all, I loved the book and will continue to enjoy more of Mr Conroy's works in coming months.
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on March 26, 2009
Robert Conroy provides another alternate history, this time imagining a Japanese offensive into the Central Pacific that captures the Hawaiian Islands. As in his earlier alternative history 1945, Conroy uses fictitious characters at a low command level to personalize and dramatize the action he is descibing. This is combined with realistic characterizations of the senior command figures such as Kimmel, Short, Nimitz, Spruance, etc.

As a war story, this novel works. Junior officers and enlisted men are doing the fighting, dying, and learning the harsh lessons. Smart officers listen and adapt. Other officers stick with their preconceptions and meet defeat sooner or later.

A large number of US civilians get caught up in occupation and are brutally and yet casually mistreated by the Japanese. Given the Japanese behavior in Asia, I can't say this is surprising, but given Yamamoto's experience in the USA, I have to think he would have recognized the outrage this would have provoked in the US and the adverse consequences this would have had in mobilizing US efforts against Japan.

One of the things that I really liked in Conroy's 1901 were the brief appearances by junior officers who would later rise to prominence in WW1 and WW2. That was completely missing in this volume.

Unfortunately, there were numerous minor technical mistakes in the narrative that cost it a fifth star from me. P-47's were not deployed to defend Hawaii in early 1942, those were P-40's. The Japanese dispute on whether to use Lanai or Molokai as a "floating aircraft carrier" to provide land based air cover is a good question with the wrong answer. Contrary to the text, Molokai is closer to Oahu than Lanai, but Lanai is too small and rugged to provide space for a good complex of airfields. Neither island has a large good natural harbor. Rather, the better answer is Maui, with plenty of room for airfields on the relatively flat waist of the island and the splendid Lahaina Roads off west Maui as a sheltered deep-water anchorage for the invasion fleet. The questions about the Yamato were reasonable but USNI had concluded before the war that the Yamato and her sisters were most likely treaty-busting battleships of up to 40,000 tons with 16 inch gun main armament. The actual size and main armament were surprises (actualy photo recon did not capture an image of a Yamato class battleship afloat until one was spotted in Truk in early 1944), but the notion that they would only have 14 inch gun main armament was not held in the Navy since the Nagato class battleships commissioned in the 1920s already had 16 inch main armament. Still, these are historical details.

The book is a fun and quick read that I found hard to put down that speculated about a perennial "might-have-been" in WW2.
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on March 24, 2009
In this thrilling novel, author Robert Conroy explores the question of what would have happened if Japan had launched a successful third wave against Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In Conroy's book, Japan succeeds in not only destroying the American Pacific fleet, but the repair shops, dry docks, and fuel storage tanks are destroyed as well. Soon, Japanese forces have occupied the islands and the remnants of the American Pacific fleet have fled to the relative safety of California. The Japanese secret police, led by Col. Omori, have begun a reign of terror against many of the civilians, especially those of white descent.

Omori has chosen Alexa Sanderson, whose husband died on the USS Oklahoma, to be his mistress. Alexa sees no choice but to give in to Omori, believing that this is her only chance at survival. Jake Novacek, who has befriended Alexa after her husband's death, has been sent to the big island of Hawaii to rescue Commander Joe Rochefort, who has secret knowledge of Japanese codes. Upon Rochefort's successful rescue, Jake has remained and, along with the help of volunteers, has begun a covert war against the Japanese. However, Jake has to deal with not only the Japanese, but betrayal from some Americans who have become sympathetic to the Japanese.

The Navy has also made plans to strike back at Hawaii. Col. Jimmy Doolittle has been assigned to convert several flying boats into bombers, take off from California, and attack the Japanese fleet, which has now entered Pearl Harbor. The remnants of the American fleet have assembled off the island of Samoa, and are steaming toward Pearl Harbor in hopes of attacking the Japanese ships. A small group of American fighters are also ready to attack the Japanese. An American submarine has been stationed outside the entrance to Pearl Harbor to attack Japanese shipping. If all of these elements are successful, the Japanese could be driven from Hawaii. If they fail, the Japanese will destroy the remnants of American resistance. Which will it be?

I enjoyed this book very much. I thought that the story was well-conceived, and the character development is very good. The reader can truly relate to the characters in the book. I thought Conroy's portrayal of Roosevelt as a worn-out leader looking for a ray of hope was truly acurate as to the way FDR actually felt at the time. Also, I liked the way Conroy changed Admiral Spruance's personality from the passive observer to the aggressive attacker. The portrayal of the Japanese characters. especially Col. Omori, was very good, and Conroy pulled no punches with his descriptions of the Japanese atrocities committed against civilians.

I give this book my highest recommendation. Fans of alternative history will definitely want to read "1942".
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