Review: The New Galveston Duology (Dale Cozort)

29 May

The New Galveston Duology (Dale Cozort)

New Galveston Book 1: Operation Croatoan

New Galveston Book 2: The Wild East

Dale Cozort is well known amongst alternate history fans for his detailed WW2 scenarios and, more rarely in the AH world, equally detailed scenarios following possible Native American/Spanish Conquest period.  He brings an astonishing grasp of both periods to his work, with enough details to make them some of the most plausible timelines/outlines in the genre.  Dale does his research and it shows.

In the New Galveston books, Dale combines both time periods to create a very different world.  In 1939, when much of the US Navy was at sea holding a massive exercise – with President Franklin Roosevelt as the guest of honour – the United States simply vanished, to be replaced by an alternate new world still inhabited solely by the descendents of the Aztecs, Incas and North American tribal societies.  (The US vanishing is not unique – John Birmingham did it well in Without Warning – but replacing the US with a ‘new’ New World is unique as far as I know.)  The remnants of the US try to settle the new land, but find themselves competing with foreign powers, including the Nazis and the Japanese, both of whom have allied themselves with the Aztecs and other hostile Indian powers.  And an uneasy peace is about to be broken as the Nazis make a bid to take over the New World …

The story is very pulpy, with a handful of very diverse characters competing to stop the Nazis and save the New World before it is too late.  There are relatively few moments of contemplation – instead, rather, all-out action as the characters race across the ‘undiscovered’ lands in constant running battles.  The bigger actions – the USN fighting the German Navy – are largely off-screen, although it is clear the battles are quite significant.  It also draws in political insights, from the US being reluctant to arm local allies (and, accidentally, forcing them to bend the knee to the Aztecs), to the impact of a vast new space for exploration and settlement.  The politics are a tight squeeze for the US, caught between multiple different factions of varying levels of hostility.  And the Nazi plot to cripple and isolate the remnants of America is horrifyingly plausible. 

There are issues I might take with the global politics.  Losing the US in 1939, even before the war broke out, would severely damage the global economy (although not to the extent of Without Warning).  The Reich might actually be less able to sustain a war – and in this timeline it is clear Hitler never invaded Poland – but it would be balanced by Britain and France being thrown back on their own resources.  Given time, the Reich would peak and start to decline – just when this would happen is hard to calculate, as Britain and France – and to some extent Russia – would be weakened by the loss of the US.  I’m also unsure if the Germans could have deployed a major fleet – pretty much everything they had – to the New World.  Even if they had bases in the region, they would not be capable of supporting the fleet. The logistics would be an absolute nightmare.

The book doesn’t try to sugar-coat either the Native Americans or the Nazis themselves, nor does it skim away from the immense problems facing the Native Americans when the confronted Europeans for the first time.  Disease is a serious problem, even with ‘modern’ vaccination techniques; tribal warfare and constant feuds makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a stable society to arise.  (The Aztecs had actually neared the limits of their expansion when the Spanish arrived.)  The willingness of certain powers to ally with the Nazis is quite plausible, particularly when the Germans appeared to be the only outsiders willing to trade modern weapons to the locals.  They are, of course, planning to backstab the Aztecs when they’ve outlived their usefulness. 

Overall, the two books are good quick reads.  I might quibble about the ending – and I would love to see a third book – but I enjoyed reading them.  You might too.

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