17 June 2014

Book Review - Afrika Reich

(image from Amazon.com)

I really liked Afrika Reich. It had a few problems, but none that destroyed it for me…. But one problem came pretty close.

Dunkirk was a total disaster for the British. Most of their troops were killed or captured. Winston Churchill quickly lost his still new position as Prime Minster and the UK negotiated a peace with the Third Reich. Without a western front to worry about the Germans then turned their full attention to the Soviets.

The story starts in 1952. A large portion of Africa is under Nazi domination. They have spent a decade remolding it based off their twisted imaginations. Burton Cole is a mercenary who decides to do one last mission to assassinate his old nemesis, Hochburg. Hochburg controls the Afrika Reich and has plans to move against some additional African territory.

Things quickly turn south for the team and they are scattered across Africa fleeing a variety of German troops, police, and spies. The British government, who they think they are working for, refuses to aid them and closes the Sudanese border to keep them from escaping Reich territory. Now with no friends, no supplies, and a horde of Nazis pursuing them they have non-stop action in their attempt to escape the continent.

There is also a sub-plot that ties into the main story involving an African woman named Neliah. She works with the Portuguese military in the portion of Angola still held by Portugal. She is not taken seriously as a warrior by the white men so she is out to prove herself. Her determination and skill helps to uncover a dangerous plot that is unfolding.

Burton Cole: Pretty standard set up. A mercenary who has given up the life to start a farm back home. He wants to marry his sweetheart who is pregnant with his child. Money is tight and things will be difficult, but the future looks bright. Then he decides to take that one last job into the heart of the Afrika Reich. The leader of Nazi Africa, Hochburg, happens to be the man Cole blames for the death of his mother. In addition there is a large sum of money involved, enough to be set for life. Of course giving into his greed and thirst for vengeance mean things won’t be as simple as explained by his contact.

Patrick: A close friend of Burton's most of the time. They served on many mercenary missions in Africa back in the early years of Nazi occupation. His main goal is to get back to the United States to be reunited with his daughter. He suffers a stigma from being an American, they are seen as inherently cowardly since they did not get involved in the Second World War. He also has his lucky pipe.

Hochburg: Burton’s arch-nemesis and the reason he agreed to go to Africa one last time. Hochburg is your typical Hollywood Nazi, totally evil no redeeming qualities. He does have a background that ties in with Burton’s and the two men actually both seem equally stubborn.

Neliah: An African woman in Portuguese Angola. She leads a small group of warrior women and wants to avenge her dead parents who were killed when the Nazis conquered southern Angola. She has to deal with being looked down upon because of her race and gender so eventually goes off to fight on her own as the Portuguese flee to protect the capital.

Despite a few of the problems with the story it read like an old pulp adventure. I also appreciate an alternate outcome World War II where the action doesn’t focus on Europe or North America. I’ve read Soldier of Fortune on-again-off-again over the years as well has reading most of the memoirs of Mike Hoare, so reading about these mercenaries fighting their way across Africa brought back some additional memories.

Still, Nazi Germany clearing out all of the natives in the Congo in just a decade? They would have focused their limited man-power on Eastern Europe to clear out the natives there to allow for German expansion – that would have left limited resources for a major project covering over half the second largest continent in the world. The mountains and jungles are quite a bit different than the plains of Eastern Europe. It is impossible for the situation scenario in the book to have happened the way it did.

Also, I know there are really tough people out there. Still, some of the punishment that Cole went through on a regular basis was starting to border on unbelievable. But then again any movie with Schwarzenegger or Stallone has the same problem so it can be overlooked given the style of the story.

Overall I give this one 4 out of 5 stars given my bias. If you go in ready to accept a couple of improbable things and focus on the action it should be enjoyable.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Page Count: 433
Genre: Alternate History
ISBN: 978-1-444-71064-9

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