Alt Hist Issue 10 Published – and some news!

Alt Hist Issue 10 has now been published!

You can purchase eBook and Print copies from:

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Welcome to Alt Hist Issue 10. I am sad to say that this will be the last regular Alt Hist. It is possible that I may do the occasional special issue Alt Hist in the future—perhaps an anthology around a particular theme, but for now that’s it I’m afraid. I have enjoyed editing and publishing Alt Hist over the last six years. The experience has taught me a lot about publishing short fiction and also given me the opportunity to work with some great authors. However, my time is limited and I am not finding enough of it to spend on my own writing. So with a heavy heart I decided that enough was enough for Alt Hist—for now at least.

So, onto the stories in this final issue of Alt Hist.

We start off with “The Thirty-Fourth Man” by Martin Roy Hill. Paul Klee, former cop and OSS spy, now reluctantly serves the SS in a Nazi-occupied America. His latest assignment: Hunt down the Thirty-Fourth Man, a double agent who destroyed a German spy ring. A story inspired by true events.

“Raven Child” by Morgan Read Davidson is set during the time of Julius Caesar, and is about the migration of the great Helvetii tribe through the land that would one day be Switzerland—a migration that would bring them into conflict with the might of Rome’s legions.

The Battalion 202 stories by Jonathan Doering have been running in Alt Hist since Issue 4. They give an imaginative view of some of the pressures and reactions to Nazi Occupation had Operation “Sea Lion” been activated successfully in late 1940. “Operation Solar”, the concluding story in the cycle, brings together the narratives of the key characters, centering on the AU plans to attack and liberate the Nazis’ transit prison at Pontefract Castle.

“Occupation” by Adam Kotlarczyk follows the life of Maryse, a Norman French farm girl who, on the eve of the D-Day invasion, rides a train to rendezvous with her boyfriend, who has been conscripted into the German Wehrmacht.

The last story in Alt Hist Issue 10 is one of my own: “Chivalry: A Jake Savage Adventure”. I have resisted the self-indulgence of publishing one of my own stories in Alt Hist until the very final issue—although sometimes it has been tempting when I have struggled to find a final story for an issue. But I thought it was appropriate for this last one—and this story in particular fits well as it’s the reason that promoted me to start up Alt Hist in the first place. When I was submitting it to magazine six years ago, I received good feedback from beta readers and others, but I couldn’t find anywhere that would accept it—and I realised that part of the reason was probably there was no publication interested much in historical fiction, or a fantasy variant thereof. So Alt Hist began.

I hope that Alt Hist has performed its role to some extent in being an outlet for historical fiction. And I hope that its readers have enjoyed the stories that it has published. As always your comments and views are welcome. I can still be reached via the Alt Hist website, Twitter, Faceboook and email.

Hitler is Coming by Martin Roy Hill – Free Story Extract

What would the United States be like if Hitler won the Second World War? In “Hitler Is Coming” by Martin Roy Hill protagonist Paul Klee is an OSS veteran and police investigator on temporary assignment to the post-war American SS to stop a plot to kill a victorious Adolf Hitler on his first visit to the U.S. From fascist cabbies to corrupt Party gauleiters, Klee wends his way through an America most Americans today never knew once existed.

Visit the page for Alt Hist Issue 6 if you want to order a copy to read more of this and other stories.

Free Extract from Hitler is Coming by Martin Roy Hill

It was a wet, miserable morning when I arrived at SS headquarters. Stepping from the cab, I turned the collar of my leather duster against the mist and tried not to get wet. No one trusted the rain much these days, even though the scientists said it was safe. It was 1946, only two years after the war ended. London and Moscow were still radioactive embers, but New York was starting to rise from its ashes. Nevertheless, even here in Washington, people still worried about radioactive fallout. Everyone had heard the stories.

I had, in fact, just come from New York where I had been following leads in a case of government corruption. Some construction magnate offering bribes to the wrong people—at least they were the wrong people for me. The Party didn’t like it when investigators tried to arrest their members. Oh, they didn’t mind us arresting the small fish, just the big ones. I’d caught the wrong fish. That’s why I was standing outside SS headquarters in DC, staring at the giant swastika on the top of the building that used to be FBI headquarters, dreading what waited for me inside, and cursing the doc who saved my life in Italy three years earlier.

I started toward the main entrance when I saw Bruno Hesse come out the door. Like me, Bruno had been a city cop before the war and we’d worked some cases together. He was a fat, balding little man back then, with a nasty opinion about everything and everyone, especially if you were a Negro or Jew. He wasn’t a very good cop. He liked beating up on anyone smaller than himself, or if he had help, someone bigger. He had been some kind of high ranking officer in the German American Bund, the U.S. equivalent of Hitler’s Brown Shirts, until the Bund was banished back in ‘42. Now he wore a different uniform, a black one with a high-peaked hat and double lightning bolts on his collar. He even sported a silly Himmler moustache and wire-rimmed glasses.

Bruno flipped his hand up in the kind of salute only the highest level Nazis get to use. He waited for me to return the salute, but I didn’t take the bait.

“Paul,” he said, “I was just talking about you with SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Günter. It looks like we may be working together again.”

He looked taller. I wondered if he were wearing lifts.

“My lucky day,” I said. “Where do I find this Oberst—whatever?”

“You may call him Lieutenant Colonel Günter,” Bruno said, with something of a sniff. “He’s taken over J. Edgar’s old office.”

“That helps,” I muttered and walked on into the building.

I’d only been in the FBI building once before the war, and I wasn’t Hoover’s guest. I remembered it as a non-descript building with drab government workers and an occasional photo of FDR hanging on the wall. Now it was a clean, freshly painted maze of hallways and offices occupied by severe, Aryan-looking men and women nattily dressed in Nazi black and death’s head skulls. Where Roosevelt once looked down at you benignly, Hitler now stared down with his messianic glare.

A young corporal stared at my credentials then at me, as if he didn’t trust his eyes. He finally handed my ID back with a haughty frown, and directed me to an office on an upper floor. I found the door and knocked.

“Enter!” someone sounded in crisp, German-tainted English.

SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Hermann Günter sat behind a desk the size of an aircraft carrier, and with as much clutter as a flight deck when all its planes are launched. He had a long angular face and hawkish nose, and thin, cruel lips that probably had never known a real smile. He wore a tailored SS uniform blacker than I was feeling just then. On a clothes tree behind him was an ankle length leather great coat, the kind that was becoming the style to wear. Pictures of Hitler and Himmler decorated the walls.

Guys like Bruno Hesse were a dime a dozen these days. This guy Günter was the real thing. A real German, a real Nazi, right down to the accent. You could almost smell the crematorium on him.

“Ah! Herr Klee,” he said in English, rising. “Come in. Come in.”

As he stood, he closed a folder that had my name and SS emblems on it. Seeing your name on an SS folder has a peculiar effect on you, like someone has just shot you in the gut. And I knew too well how that felt.

“Please sit. Sit.”

He directed me to an overly large leather chair, offered me a cigarette which I took, then lit one for himself.

“Forgive me, but Paul Klee…” He said my name slowly, hissing each syllable. “Any relationship to the degenerate Swiss artist Paul Klee?”

I shook my head and said, “I thought he was German.”

Günter regarded me with something like distaste. “Not at all,” he protested. “Quite Swiss. And probably a Jew as well.”

“Just for the record, I’m a lapsed Catholic.”

Günter considered what I said, then waved his cigarette in the air. “Yes,” he said, “so are we all these days.”

Günter returned to his seat and opened my file. “Captain Paul Klee, late of the OSS. Italy, I see. I, too, was stationed in Italy. Imagine, if we had met back then… I would have shot you on the spot.”

“Not if I shot you first,” I said, smiling.

He gave me another of look of Aryan distaste. “Yes,” he finally said. “And now here we are, sharing cigarettes and having a nice chat.”

He referred to the file again. “How long did you work with the Italian resistance, captain?”

“Until one of your Schmeissers rearranged my insides in mid-‘43,” I told him. “And I am no longer a captain.”

“Oh, I didn’t tell you yet,” Günter said, apologizing. “You are being seconded from your National Police to the SS. You will have the honorary title of Hauptsturmfuhrer—captain.”

He flicked an ash, then returned to the interrogation. “Once again, captain. How long were you with the Italian resistance?”

I figured he had the answer in the file so I told him.

“I dropped in by parachute in late ’42, about the same time as Operation Torch in North Africa,” I said. “I operated until the summer of ’43 when I was shot. An Italian doctor who worked with the resistance saved my life. It took me months to recuperate. By the time I did, Italy was pretty much out of the war. I spent the rest of the war on the invalid list.”

I was lying in an evacuation hospital in Naples when the news came that New York was destroyed, followed by London and Moscow. The Krauts launched a single giant A-10 rocket at each city. The A-10 was basically two V-2 rockets stacked one on top of the other. The Krauts only needed one A-10 for each city. Their atomic warheads did the rest. With Churchill and Stalin vaporized, Britain and Russia surrendered within days. Roosevelt held out until the pro-Nazis in Congress forced him to capitulate two weeks later.

Günter didn’t look up from the file. He just grunted and said, “Saved by an Italian resistance doctor. I should have him shot.”

“You already did,” I said.

Günter’s thin lips curled downward, not in sadness, but satisfaction.

“Tell me, captain, did you enjoy New York?”

“Not particularly,” I answered. “Not much to do there with Broadway turned to radioactive dust.”

“Hmm, just so,” he said. “But you did find some way to entertain yourself.”

“I was simply trying to do my job. I wasn’t aware there were two sets of laws, one for Party members and another for everyone else.”

Günter shook his head. “There is only one set of laws, captain. But there are also…” He waved his cigarette in the air again, trying to find the word he was looking for in the smoke. “There are politics, yes? Politics. That has always been true, here in America, as well as in Germany, no?”

“Is that why I’m being—what did you say?—seconded to the SS?” I asked. “To keep a tight rein on me?”

The Kraut pursed his lips in thought, then nodded. “In part,” he said. “You have Major Hesse to thank for suggesting that.”

He stood and walked around the desk, and sat on the edge looking down at me.

“You are being attached so we can make use of your knowledge of partisan operations,” he said. “You will help us ferret out those who still resist the… peace… between Germany and the United States.”

“Resistance?” I said. “I didn’t know there were any resistance fighters in this country. You’ve already arrested all the Commies, not to mention the Jews. Those of us who fought in the war are too tired of fighting to continue. Those who didn’t—well, there was a reason they didn’t. They were either too busy getting draft deferments or they were on your side to start with.” I put my cigarette out and accepted Günter’s offer of another and leaned back in the chair. “Like Major Hesse.”

Günter smiled sardonically and nodded.

“Yes, Major Hesse provided us with good service both before and during the war,” he said, “and he has been well rewarded for his service. So were many others in the Bund.”

“And elsewhere,” I said with distaste. It was discovered after the surrender there were at least twenty members of Congress who were either Nazi sympathizers or paid German agents. “Quislings.”

“That’s a nasty word, captain” Günter said. “Many in Norway regard Minister-President Quisling a national hero and a patriot.” He waved the subject away. “But let us not argue politics. Let us talk about your assignment.” He paused for effect, then looked straight at me before speaking again. “Hitler is coming.”

“Hitler? Here?”

Günter nodded. “The Fuhrer is making his first visit to your country. He will arrive in two weeks to meet with your President Prescott, and to present Herr Ford with another Fatherland honor.”

After the surrender, the Kraut-lovers in Congress had deposed FDR and, with the approval of the Party, appointed Prescott president. Before the war, both Prescott and his father-in-law were big time bankers and fanatics for fascist politics—so much so they helped fund the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Prescott kept right on aiding the Krauts even as our Army was fighting them in North Africa, right up until he got his hands slapped by a government too timid to actually put him in prison for treason.

Henry Ford was an admirer of Hitler as well, and had already received a couple medals from “Der Fuhrer” back in the Thirties. Some of the Panzers that kicked our butts at Kasserine Pass in ’42 were built with the help of American companies like Ford and GM.

“Is Der Fuhrer planning to dance another two-step here like he did in Paris?” I asked.

Günter’s thin lips got even thinner.

“I don’t think so,” he said, dismissing my remark. He reached around the desk, pulled a file from a drawer and handed it to me. “We have reliable intelligence that there will be an attempt to assassinate the Fuhrer during his visit. I want you to make sure it does not happen.”

“Me? Why the hell should I care if Hitler buys the farm? All I ever got from him was a belly full of lead.”

“You care for the same reasons you did in Italy, captain,” Günter said. “Because if anything happens to Hitler, there will be retaliatory executions on an unimaginable level. You supported the resistance in Italy. You know what I mean.”

I nodded. I’d watched from a distance as the SS rounded up entire villages and shot each person in retaliation for partisan attacks. I led many of those attacks, and the knowledge that what I had done was responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent men, women, even children, had haunted me ever since.

“This time it would be your own people,” the Kraut said slowly, obviously enjoying my discomfort. “And we have much more efficient ways of retaliation, as you witnessed in New York. That’s why you will care about what happens to the Fuhrer.”

He stood up and lit another cigarette. “You were OSS. You worked with partisans. You were also a police officer and know how American criminals work. You’re the perfect man for this assignment.”

I opened the folder and glanced at its content before looking back at Günter.

“It’s in German,” I said. “I don’t speak that much German.”

Günter picked a book off his desk and tossed it in my lap. It was an English-German dictionary.

“Considering the situation,” he said, “I think it’s time you learned.”

END OF FREE EXTRACT
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The Iceberg by Andrea Mullaney – Free Story Extract

On Boxing Day, 1914, a teenage girl sits in an Edinburgh prison awaiting trial for a war crime. Her lawyer finds himself captivated by her as he tries to establish the truth of the case, whose roots lie in the Titanic disaster two years before. “The Iceberg” by Andrea Mullaney is based on an extraordinary true story.

Visit the page for Alt Hist Issue 6 if you want to order a copy to read more of this and other stories.

Free Extract from “The Iceberg” by Andrea Mullaney

Based on a true story

She looked so young. Seventeen, they’d told me, but I might have taken her for fourteen. Not at all like someone accused of a war crime.

The pug-faced wardress must have noticed my hesitation.

“Aye, that’s her—looks like butter wouldn’t melt, doesn’t she? But don’t be taken in. She’s a hardened liar.”

The slim, cool figure, perched schoolgirl-style on the edge of the cell bench, must have been able to hear: the grill on the door was open and the wardress hadn’t bothered to lower her voice. But the girl showed no indication of it, her gaze fixed on the bare stone floor at her feet, her hands neatly folded in her lap. I tried not to lower my own voice in compensation.

“I’ll see her now, please.”

The wardress grudgingly extracted the key from the ring clanking on her belt, her fingers fumbling to turn it in the lock.

“Back, Hume,” she ordered unnecessarily, while the girl remained still. “I’ll be outside. Twenty minutes.”

I waited till the door clapped shut before I moved further in.

“Hello, Kate.”

She looked up at me, incurious. She was wearing the usual black uniform with white apron, her dark hair pinned up, but her appearance was nevertheless striking, with those ‘delicate features’ the newspapers had described at length. Somehow I had been expecting a hysterical type—an attention seeker. Perhaps Calton Jail’s regime had tamed her.

As there was nowhere else, I sat on the cold bench alongside her, awkwardly addressing her side-on.

“My name is John Wilson. I’ve been assigned to represent you. Are you well…, have they treated you well?”

“Yes, thank you.” Her voice was polite, girlish, deliberately well-spoken.

“I’m sorry it has taken so long for me to see you. Christmas, you know …”

“Yes.”

I had only been assigned her case in the last week, but the prison governor had told me I was her first visitor in the three months she had been here. Her family, clearly, had washed their hands of her. It was Boxing Day; I’d spent the preceding days caught up in domesticity and watched my own daughters, almost half her age, delighting over their new dolls and books. The contrast was acute and stupidly, I wished for a moment that I had brought her something. A flower, perhaps, to cheer this bleak chamber. I pushed the sentimental thought aside.

“Now, however, we must prepare for the trial tomorrow. Have the charges been explained to you?”

“They say it’s forgery,” she said, her expression unreadable.

“Yes, in a sense. The formal charge is ‘concocting and fabricating letters with the intent of alarming the lieges’. That means the Crown—the King and his ministers.”

“I never—I did not intend to—to alarm the King!”

A flash of spirit, at last. “What did you intend?”

She made no reply.

“Come now, I am here to help you, Kate. I can assure you that if you speak honestly and give a good account of yourself, the judge will be lenient towards you. But these are serious charges. And I’m sure you know they might have been worse. This is wartime and you could have been facing a military court. Under the new Defence of the Realm Regulations, that could have carried a maximum penalty of death by firing squad.”

Her eyes widened like a child’s stunned by unfairness. The tendons in her fine, white neck tightened and I realised that I had frightened her; that she had been, indeed, already very frightened. I reached over to pat her wrist.

“Do not be alarmed—I said ‘could have,’ not ‘will’. The military authorities at Stirling had no desire to take you into custody, and abrogated the matter to the police. That is why they have brought this rather curious charge. Let me assure you that there can be no such penalty in court—nothing like so severe. And if you will tell me what happened, I can place a plea of mitigation on your behalf and there is every chance of a probationary sentence. Do you understand what that means?”

She breathed out, nodded; then stood up and took two small paces forward. They brought her almost to the opposite wall, like the rest covered with faded scratches from residents past. At least the place was clean, with a faint trace of carbolic soap, and the chamber pot in the corner had clearly been emptied recently. There were much worse places.

“Thank you, Mr Wilson. I will try… it is hard to know where to start.”

“Well, let us say—the day you brought the letters to Mrs McMinn. I understand she was the first person to see them?”

“I was staying with her.”

“And why was that?”

“She said I could. Robina—her daughter—and I were—were friends.”

“I mean, why were you not at home? Was there some trouble with your father and mother?”

She turned abruptly. “She’s not my—yes. It was about Mary.”

“Mary?”

“My brother’s girl.”

Ah. I had read about this: the court case which had thrown the family into the public eye in the first place, even before the publication of Kate’s letters. Of course, even three years on, anything to do with the RMS Titanic was still news.

“I see. You did not agree with your father and stepmother over the lawsuit that Mary Costin brought for support of her child?”

“No! That’s Jock’s baby. He loved her, they were to be married. Papa and Alice didn’t think Mary was good enough for him because her father drives a van and she works in the glove factory. But she’s decent, Mary is. He used to—he used to play for her and she’d sit there listening, just—just watching him.”

As she spoke, it was as if she were seeing something. I could almost see it myself: the young man playing violin while his sweetheart listened, unaware she was being judged by the young girl in the corner, but passing muster as attentive enough to be worthy of him. The papers had been very sympathetic to Mary Costin and her plea for justice, I recalled. The image of the band playing as the ship went down, as related by survivors of the tragedy, had struck a chord in the popular imagination and it was generally held that while not officially Jock Hume’s widow, his family’s refusal to acknowledge her was simply to retain their share of the Relief Fund. Kate’s father had been portrayed as shifty and unreliable. Perhaps there was something in all of this that I could use.

END OF FREE EXTRACT
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What’s Coming up in Alt Hist Issue 6

We’re still working busily on the production of Alt Hist Issue 6 – all coming together nicely with final proofs being checked and the cover being designed. If you’re intrigued about what to expect then here’s a draft of the back cover copy for the next issue. Issue 6 should be available by the end of January/start of February at the latest.

Alt Hist Issue 6 includes four wonderful alternate history stories, plus a great “straight” historical fiction set in 1914 about a teenage girl accused of war crimes. The alternate history stories cover some classic areas for speculative fiction and of interest to alternate history buffs: what if Hitler one the war, what if the Germans invaded Britain in WW2, who really killed JFK and what if the Cold War turned hot? But none of these tales are just speculation on alternative versions of history. They all share what you have come to expect from Alt Hist: a strong story and engaging characters.

 

Alt Hist is the magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History, published twice a year by Alt Hist Press.

 

Stories featured in Alt Hist Issue 6:

 

  • “B-36”by Douglas W. Texter
  • “ Battalion 202: Worm in the Apple” by Jonathan Doering:
  • “The Iceberg” by Andrea Mullaney
  • “When Shots Rang Out” by Lynda M. Vanderhoff
  • “Hitler Is Coming” by Martin Roy Hill

 

Set in a world in which the early Cold War grows very hot, “B-36”by Douglas W. Texter  tells the tale of what might have happened if the Soviet Union had taken Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. In this world, Secretary of Defense James Forrestal orders a B-36 piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Drummond and a very special mission commander to fly to the Soviet Union with a secret “gimmick” on board.  The results of the mission are world-changing.

The next instalment of Battalion 202 by Jonathan Doering: “For all I know, you’re dirty as well.” Christopher felt his chest flare. “Alright then, if you don’t believe me, shoot me.” A worm enters an apple. It is seeking food, shelter. It is only acting on its nature. But sooner or later the apple will turn rotten. Everything will explode. There is a traitor in Pontefract Auxiliary Unit. A traitor who places his own survival and success in the new Nazi state ahead of everything – even the lives of his comrades….

On Boxing Day, 1914, a teenage girl sits in an Edinburgh prison awaiting trial for a war crime. Her lawyer finds himself captivated by her as he tries to establish the truth of the case, whose roots lie in the Titanic disaster two years before. ‘The Iceberg,’ by Andrea Mullaney, is based on an extraordinary true story.

In “When Shots Rang Out” by Lynda M. Vanderhoff JFK was a well known ladies man, but his family has suffered under a curse that is nearly Shakespearian in scope.  Could it be that Kennedy upset the wrong person with his philandering, putting in motion the death and bad fortune that would see his family destroyed?

What would the United States be like if Hitler won the Second World War? In “Hitler Is Coming” by Martin Roy Hill protagonist Paul Klee is an OSS veteran and police investigator on temporary assignment to the post-war American SS to stop a plot to kill a victorious Adolf Hitler on his first visit to the U.S. From fascist cabbies to corrupt Party gauleiters, Klee wends his way through an America most Americans today never knew once existed.

 

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Alt Hist Issue 6 – News

For those of you eagerly awaiting the 6th issue of Alt Hist, I have some news.

First off the good news is that it should be a bumper issue – we have more words and pages in the next issue than ever before. Secondly, it’s probably not going to be out before Christmas. Currently its in editing stage and I anticipate that process will take the rest of December. So its likely that Alt Hist Issue 6 will be out in early January to rid you of those post-Christmas blues!

Here’s a sneak peak of the stories that will appear in Alt Hist Issue 6 (in no particular order):

  • “Hitler is Coming” by Martin Hill (Alternate History – Hitler in America)
  • “When Shots Rang Out” by Lynda M. Vanderhoff (JFK)
  • “B-36” by Douglas W. Texter (Cold War alternate history)
  • “Battalion 202: Worm in the Apple” by Jonathan Doering (German invasion of Britain)
  • “The Iceberg” by Andrea Mullaney (First World War spies)
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Historical Fiction Book Review: Hitler Stopped by Franco by Burt Boyar

Review by Scott Skipper

Hitler Stopped by Franco by Burt BoyarHitler Stopped by Franco by Burt Boyar

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (19 Dec 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1480264393
  • ISBN-13: 978-1480264397

Purchase from: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Nothing Less Than Superb

Burt Boyar and his late wife had extraordinary access to intimate details of an obscure piece of World War II history.  Most Americans’ view of Generalísimo Franco is of an implacable Fascist dictator who ran Spain with an iron hand for nearly forty years.  That may be true enough, but Hitler Stopped by Franco shows us that he had another facet.  Imagine being the supreme leader of civil war torn, impoverished and helpless Spain with divisions of Wehrmacht amour parked on your border and Hitler continually whining, cajoling and demanding access to Gibraltar through your sovereign territory.  With Spain totally defenseless, Franco had to play the ultimate cat and mouse game.  He had to convince Hitler of his friendship, and that he would join the Axis ‘any day now’ while he kept relief coming from the Allies with assurances of maintaining strict neutrality.  For three years he managed to walk this tightrope. The Boyars were able to interview actual players in this tableau who were present at high-stakes meetings with the world’s most dangerous men.  The depth of the research behind this story is uncanny.  Written in the form of historical fiction, this fascinating history reads like a suspense novel.  The characterization of Franco will give the reader a new perspective of the man who saved Spain twice.  I cannot give this book enough praise.

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