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VINE VOICEon March 2, 2010
This book is Conroy's fifth alternate history novel, yet in many respects it reads like his third one, 1945: A Novel, given how much he borrows from it. Though the setting is different - with the premise being a clash between Soviet and American forces in Germany at the end of the Second World War in Europe - the elements are all too familiar to anyone who has read Conroy's earlier work. As in the earlier novel, they will encounter green lieutenants, beleaguered but determined generals, men trapped behind the lines cooperating with OSS agents, a duplicitous Soviet Union, and a plucky man from Missouri attempting to address it all. Even the ending is essentially the same, though this is less of a surprise as all of Conroy's novels seem to conclude with an "in-the-end-the-world-was-left-a-better-place" sort of wrapping up.

This is not to say that this is not an enjoyable book, as fans of Conroy's alternate novels will find the author firing on every cylinder that he has within these pages (yet not without historical errors; for example, the G.I. Bill was already in place by the end of 1944 to provide returning vets with loans and college educations). But it seems that with the fifth novel - and his third consecutive one set in World War II - Conroy's creative well is apparently running dry, forcing him to recycle earlier ideas in a slightly refreshed setting. In his "Acknowledgments" section at the end of the book he expresses the hope that this will not be the last alternate history novel he writes; if he does publish another, it will hopefully be after he puts more time into giving readers something new and different, rather than just warming over his earlier work.
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VINE VOICEon April 20, 2010
I am a big fan of alternative historical fiction. I also enjoyed Conroy's 1901 book more than this one.

It is an intriguing question that one would assume would get more coverage: what if the Soviet's pushed too hard after the defeat of Germany and went to war with the rest of the Allies? Conroy sets up the conflict fairly well and creates a few interesting characters but also some dull place fillers. The Russians get aggressive and trap an allied force in Germany as their main force pushes the Allies back further and further out of Germany. Much space is devoted to espionage in the West and the resistance the trapped U.S. force puts up behind enemy lines, including their respective love interests. Consideration is given to the Soviet advantage in men and tanks, with the Allies' reliance on air power and giving up space for time to bleed the Soviet advance. All ends in massive fireballs as the first atom bombs are used on the Soviet Army rather than the Japanese.

What I was hoping for more of, however, was how the Soviet and U.S. (and British) armies would face off with each other. Conroy gives little space for a closer look at how the Allies would handle the T-34s. Their advantage over the Sherman is noted, but there is no discussion over how they would match up against British Fireflies or the newer, heavier tanks that the U.S. was already shipping to the European Theater. It also would have been interesting to see how Soviet and U.S. artillery would have matched up against each other. The Soviet's prized their artillery, but the U.S. had boiled it down to a masterful science. And would the Soviet's have truly had such a massive manpower advantage? Conroy depicts the U.S. as having no real reserves to send to fight the Soviets. With the invasion of Japan postponed, however, this seems quite doubtful. Also, there is almost no naval discussion at all and the issue of the cutoff of lend-lease is barely noted.

All in all, it was a decent effort, but could have been much more. I did not get the impression that Conroy did a lot of research into the nitty gritty of how these vast armies would have faced off against each other.
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on March 1, 2010
Robert Conroy does a fine job with this very plausible alt history scenario. The characters are all well drawn, and I appreciate that the major historical personalities and their reactions to the scenario receive a great deal of attention from the author. It hands down tops Harry Turtledove's "Hitler's War". The battles, weapons, tactics, and strategic goals are all described in great detail.

I have three criticisms of the book, but they don't affect my overall assessment of the story. First, I came across three references to Germany invading Russia in 1940, vice 1941. I thought that perhaps this was somehow part of the alt history scenario, but after finishing the book I believe that it is indeed an error. Second, when the FBI agent Forbes returned to interview Natalie Holt pursuant to upgrading Col. Burke's security clearance, Barnes, who had been Holt's superior at State and who committed suicide earlier in the story, is suddenly speaking as Forbes. I thought I had misread the dialogue, so I went back to the beginning of this specific encounter between Forbes and Holt, but Barnes is definitely speaking as Forbes. This is a very egregious error, and should've been caught by the proofreader/editor. I recall three instances in this case of Barnes speaking when the author meant Forbes. Lastly, I concur with another reviewer who states that Patton seems a rather minor character here, when the actual history of the immediate aftermath of WWII in the ETO had him warning about Soviet intentions and pushing an aggressive response. He also pushed strongly for rehabilitating former Nazis, which eventually cost him his position as Miltary Governor of Bavaria. I believe that in an actual Red Inferno, George S. Patton would have played a major role.

I have enjoyed reading this book, as well as the earlier "1945" about an alternate ending to the war with Japan. I highly recommend "Red Inferno", and look forward to reading Mr. Conroy's next work.
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on June 16, 2011
Besides the complete lack of historical accuracy, this book failed to deliver as promised. The bulk of the book dealt with a couple of romances and not battles. Most of the battles are simply referred to and not fully described. The characters are well developed but lack much action due to the poor descriptions of the action scenes. There were very few times I could actually see, feel and "experience" being in a war. With so many other authors out there that can do this, I will not even attempt reading anything else by Conroy.

The scenario is plausible and a great idea for a AH book, but Conroy failed to explain what this scenario did to the Pacific theater. He never mentions how the war against Japan is going or what the strategy will be to deal with what remains of the Japanese.

This could have been so much more. Very disappointing!!!
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on October 4, 2010
Red Inferno is Conroy's story of a USSR vs Western Allies war starting in April 1945. Other reviewers have commented on many of the historical errors and implausibilities Conroy makes in following his blueprint, but I wanted to emphasize that these aren't merely errors--the entire premise cannot possibly work without most of them.
Particularly important is the bizarre notion the the US was in some kind of manpower shortage in Europe in April '45--scraping the bottom of the barrel. Utter nonsense. Where did Conroy think they were going to get the troops for Operation Olympic (The invasion of Japan scheduled for late 45)? Second is the ability of the Red Air Force to compete with the USAAF and RAF in German skies. Did the 7th and 8th Air Forces just vanish? Russian aircraft couldn't have stayed in the air with Mustangs and P-38s for a day. Russian aircraft were designed for combat support, not air superiority. Conroy's Red Army moves huge armored columns across Central Germany without significant impedance from the air. What were the thousands of bombers from 8th Air Force doing? What were the many thousands of tactical bombers in 7th doing?
Conroy's ideas seem to be based on Cold War era ideas of a Russian assault through Germany, rather than the situation as it stood then.
Much is made of the T-34's superiority to the Sherman, even using it as an excuse for the US 3rd Army not to attack. As if Patton didn't know how to use the Sherman (He did), as if the Red Army were master tankers (they were not), as if the Allies had nothing other than Shermans. It seems as though Conroy's plan was Red Army 1945 vs Allied armies 1942.
The worst part of this novel, however, is that, irronically, it isn't long enough.
Conroy's only interest in the conflict seems to be two romances, which take up the bulk of the book--or it seems that way, since there is virtually no action, only generalized descriptions of battles. Historical characters are left almost out of the book. Patton, surely the go-to-guy for US-vs Red Army fantasy is essentially not in the book. Battles are referred to rather than described. Tactics and strategy are not discussed. Eisenhower's entire plan is retreat and hope the Russians get tired of chasing.
Even the Germans did better than that--so naturally, the Nazis must be enlisted to do the fighting. And so, all is forgiven and masses of German equipment magically appear, despite a lack of factories to make them or the spare parts and ammunition they needed or trained troops to use them.
Conroy simply doesn't have enough time to explain any of theses things--not if he's going to detail his rather pointless and predictable romances.
Conroy waves his magic wand and cripples the Allies so that he may realize his vision of Germans and Allies fighting the Red Army.
And then doesn't bother to show it to us.
My advice to Mr. Conroy is to go back to earlier times for his next novel--something less easily researched and more malleable tp your blueprint. This isn't it.
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on April 10, 2014
Robert Conroy does a fine job with this very plausible alt history scenario. The characters are all well drawn, and I appreciate that the major historical personalities and their reactions to the scenario receive a great deal of attention from the author. The battles, weapons, tactics, and strategic goals are all described in great detail.

It is an intriguing question that one would assume would get more coverage: what if the Soviet's pushed too hard after the defeat of Germany and went to war with the rest of the Allies? Conroy sets up the conflict fairly well and creates a few interesting characters but also some dull place fillers. The Russians get aggressive and trap an allied force in Germany as their main force pushes the Allies back further and further out of Germany. Much space is devoted to espionage in the West and the resistance the trapped U.S. force puts up behind enemy lines, including their respective love interests. Consideration is given to the Soviet advantage in men and tanks, with the Allies' reliance on air power and giving up space for time to bleed the Soviet advance. All ends in massive fireballs as the first atom bombs are used on the Soviet Army rather than the Japanese.

I have three criticisms of the book, but they don't affect my overall assessment of the story. First, I came across three references to Germany invading Russia in 1940, vice 1941. The second is that he doesnt really go into detail about how Allied Armies would have fought the Russian army and how they would have matched up with one another.

What I was hoping for more of was how the Soviet and U.S. (and British) armies would face off with each other. Conroy gives little space for a closer look at how the Allies would handle the T-34s. Their advantage over the Sherman is noted, but there is no discussion over how they would match up against British Fireflies or the newer, heavier tanks that the U.S. was already shipping to the European Theater. It also would have been interesting to see how Soviet and U.S. artillery would have matched up against each other. The Soviet's prized their artillery, but the U.S. had boiled it down to a masterful science. And would the Soviet's have truly had such a massive manpower advantage? Conroy depicts the U.S. as having no real reserves to send to fight the Soviets. The US Army Had 12 million men serving so Im sure we would have been able to send reserves over to Europe. Where did Conroy think they were going to get the troops for Operation Olympic (The invasion of Japan scheduled for late 45)? Second is the ability of the Red Air Force to compete with the USAAF and RAF in German skies. Did the 7th and 8th Air Forces just vanish? Russian aircraft couldn't have stayed in the air with Mustangs and P-38s for a day. Russian aircraft were designed for combat support, not air superiority. Conroy's Red Army moves huge armored columns across Central Germany without significant impedance from the air. What were the thousands of bombers from 8th Air Force doing? What were the many thousands of tactical bombers in 7th doing? Also, there is almost no naval discussion at all and the issue of the cutoff of lend-lease is barely noted.

The third is that General Patton is nothing more than a minor character is this book. When in the actual history of the immediate aftermath of WWII he warned about Soviet intentions and pushing an aggressive response. He also pushed strongly for rehabilitating former Nazis, which eventually cost him his position as Miltary Governor of Bavaria. I believe that in an actual Red Inferno, George S. Patton would have been ready and waiting for a attack and once it came he would have been kicking Soviet butt so much so that the Russians would have found out the reason why the German high command feared him so much. In any Alternate history book about a WW2 USA vs USSR conflict Patton, surely the go-to-guy for US-vs Red Army fantasy essentially has to have a major role.

If you are WW2 buff like me then you might find this book interesting to read. But be warned it takes a lot of liberties that most WW2 buffs will not like. If you want a great book about a USA vs USSR conflict you will not find it here. I recommind Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy. But overall the story is imaginative and very well done. Red Inferno 1945 is just perfect for a rainy afternoon.
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on November 15, 2015
All of Conroy's books are decent alternate history -- well-researched and he was one of those who looked to write about something other than just WWII and the Civil War as turning points... I was disappointed to hear he'd passed away around the time I'd discovered him, so there's a limited amount of books from him and it won't be increasing.
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on February 24, 2016
A delightful way to spend a few hours going back to an alternate ending to World War II that could well have happened. It ended just about the way I have predicted to all those people who seem to say that the Germans would have won only if ....
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on April 19, 2014
The reason I haven't read this sooner is the price stayed up for a long time. It was worth the wait.

I like Conroy's style where he changes the result one battle or skirmish in a war and goes from there while keeping the major outcome the same. This, in my opinion makes for an excellent tale. Conroy is excellent with characters, real and fictional. They all fill their roles to a "T." He seems knowledgeable on military equipment, which I like. He always includes a small romance to keep the book from being all death and destruction.

I virtually always read his novels twice. The first time I tend to get hooked and read faster and faster, skipping the great details which I pick up on my second, slower and more detailed read. If you like alternate alternate history war novels, you'll find any of Conroy's books a very worthwhile read.
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on June 8, 2015
Another good read from Conroy.

An alternate history story in which Stalin and Truman make missteps that lead to war between the US and the Soviet Union.

This leads to the US dropping A bombs on Russian troops to end the war.

Fairly plausible and written well enough that I enjoyed reading it and that is what I expect in this kind of book.
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