Alongside "What if the South had won the Civil War?" one of the great tropes of Alternate History is, "What if the Nazis had won World War II?" While some might say that the question has been analyzed to death, Guy Saville gives a fresh look at the age-old question in his debut thriller novel The Afrika Reich.
Rather than a heavy-handed discussion of historical facts and what-if figures, The Afrika Reich is a thriller using Alternate History to create its rich setting. In 1952 in the Africa of another world, Burton Cole, a former French Foreign Legionnaire, is on a final mercenary mission to provide for his family and settle an old score. The action is fast-paced and intense, laced with explosions and real takes on the brutality of commando warfare. Cole is no infallible "good guy" hero; he's a tough man who as caught on the wrong side of a war and now trying his best to move on even though his life has known little but fighting.
While the story alone carries the work, Saville's deep research creates a fascinating world. World War II ends early when the German army attacks in full force at Dunkirk, rather than letting the British largely retire across the Channel in 1940. Britain quits the war, France has already fallen to its Vichy puppet-government, and the Germans are able to finish off the Soviets by 1942. With Britain out of the war, there is no Lend-Lease program in Washington, and the U.S. stays out of the war. Germany secures its domination of Europe and then moves to Africa to establish its empire there. Large areas are depopulated of native Africans, who are sent to be relocated to the Sahara, just as Jews are dispatched to camps in isolated Madagascar. Seeing the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe with over six million dead spread to a whole new continent gives the reader a chill to think of what horrors Nazism could yet have created.