I’ve just finished reading Afrika Reich, which is a very tough book to read at times. The book is set in a parallel universe where Nazi Germany’s victory at Dunkirk forced a ceasefire with Britain. They then defeated Soviet Russia, while pacifist America stayed out of the war. At the Casablanca Conference in 1943, Germany and Britain then carved up Africa between them.
Burton Cole, a retired former soldier and the protagonist, is hired to kill Walter Hochburg, the Governor of German Kongo.
There’s a dark image painted of an Africa that could have been. I don’t know how historically accurate the events after Dunkirk are, but it all seems believable.
Although it’s not central to the narrative, the book mentions in passing the repatriation of black Africans and the world’s Jewish population, with a map of the alternative Africa coming before the story begins. At the very least, the alternative world has been well thought out.
The book quotes memos passed back and forth between high ranking officials, and a speech given by Hitler in 1942, so, from my position of relative historic ignorance, it all seem very plausible.
Some of the imagery shown – the large scale projects in Africa, are truly haunting. I’m not sure whether these are taken from memos and diaries, or if the writer has a very dark imagination.
I was left feeling a sense of astonishment at the dark pragmatism, and the twisted madness of the Nazi ideology.
Most people are aware of atrocities like the gas chambers and labour camps. But being familiar with the ideas but not wanting to take in their darkness, they can be difficult to imagine. We’re all aware of the words, but it can be difficult to imagine the full, human consequences.
New images, which seem plausible but don’t have the mental fatigue associated with them, can horrify in a new way.
But the story is, first and foremost, an action story. The action scenes, and the pacing, are excellent.
A lot of Hollywood blockbusters are a series of action set pieces, poorly strung together by character-based scenes that are dull to watch and that don’t show why we’re supposed to care about the character.
The action in Afrika Reich is fast-paced, there’s an atmosphere of tension throughout, and the characters of Cole, Whaler and Hochburg are characters I rooted for and hated respectively.
The action – gun battles, vehicle based fights and more, are imagintive and well described. There is, overall, the feeling of a few good men, in a world gone to hell, battling impossible odds.
The world created, one in which the Nazi Empire is the dominant global force, and seem to be growing in power, lends itself to a feeling that, however bad things are, they might be about to get worse.
A difficult read at times because of the darkness of the fictional world, but an excellent action adventure.