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Watch on the Rhine (Posleen War Series #7) Hardcover – August 2, 2005
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In the dark days after the events in the book Gust Front, but before the primary invasion, the Chancellor of Germany faces a critical decision. Over the years, with military cutbacks, the store of experienced military personnel had simply dwindled. After the destruction of Northern Virginia, he realized that it was necessary to tap the one group he had sworn never, ever, to recall: the few remaining survivors of the Waffen SS. Watch On the Rhine is perhaps the most unbiased, and brutal, look at the inner workings of the Waffen SS in history. Meticulously researched, it explores all that was good, and evil, about the most infamous military force in history using the backdrop of the Posleen invasion as a canvas.
From Publishers Weekly
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About the Author
Tom Kratman is author of A State of Disobedience (Baen). In 1974, at age seventeen, he became a political refugee and defector from the PRM (People's Republic of Massachusetts) by virtue of joining the Regular Army. He attended Boston College after his first hitch, then rejoined the Army until after the Gulf War, when he decided to become a lawyer. Every now and again, when the frustrations of legal life and having to deal with other lawyers got to be too much, Tom would rejoin the Army (or a somewhat similar group, say) for fun and frolic in other climes. His family, muttering darkly, still puts up with this. Tom is currently an attorney practicing in southwest Virginia.
- Publisher : Baen; First ed edition (August 2, 2005)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0743499182
- ISBN-13 : 978-0743499187
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.13 x 1.13 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,799,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
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When the Posleen started landing on Earth, the German Chancellor considered the state of the Federal Republic's military forces and foresaw disaster. Germany had not fought in any war since World War II and all the veterans of that conflict were very old. Of course, the Galactic rejuvenation technology could restore anyone living or recently dead to perfect health, but who had the requisite experience?
In this novel, the Germans rejuvenated every man they had, including the men of the Waffen SS, despite great objections from every political spectrum except the Neo-Nazis. In most cases, these men -- and they were ALL males -- were not the deathcamp guards of many horror stories, but the grunts who had served at Stalingrad and other battlefields throughout Europe. Some were heroes by any standard, but most were just soldiers who had served the Fatherland faithfully for over a decade.
Lieutenant General Muhlenkampf was a battle machine. He had lived for war. The Waffen SS had given him an opportunity to use his talents to the fullest extent. Now he has been rejuvenated, placed in command of the new German SS Korps, and charged with resisting the expected Posleen invasion. His Korps is not alone in this mission, but they have the most experience and the best trained recruits.
Colonel Hans Brasche had been a junior officer during World War II. Although he had been Waffen SS, he had avoided the deathcamps. Now he is charged with training the new soldiers. General Muhlenkampf has trusted Hans with this great responsibility and he will do his duty to his last breath.
Sergeant Major Helmut Krueger had also been Waffen SS during the Second World War, but he had spent considerable time as a deathcamp guard. He had fond memories of gypsy, Jew and other girls in the women's camps where the guards spent their spare time. The girls would do anything a man wanted for a few trinkets.
Gunter-- the chancellor's aide -- is a Green. The very thought of SS men in uniform is abhorrent to him. Even the threat of alien Posleen grazing on the German people doesn't deter him from spreading the word to his fellow Greens of this great atrocity. The Darhel Tir provides as much support as he can.
Dieter Schultz is an eighteen year old volunteer in the newly formed SS Korps training center. He hates the training and his trainers -- particularly Sergeant Krueger -- but he is determined to do his best. Then the Greens have a nonviolent demonstration that clubs down the camp commandant. Schultz and his fellow trainees get a chance to apply their training in a very realistic exercise.
In this story, the invasion is every bit as bad as expected. The Posleen overwhelm most of France and Poland and converge on Germany. Many civilians are overrun and eaten. Many soldiers flee from the enemy and are eaten. Some hold their positions as long as possible and fall back to previously prepared fortifications. Still, the Posleens are winning and eating every body available.
The German engineers develop new weapons and rush them into production. Then they go back and develop better weapons and hope to have them ready for use before being overrun. One Tiger IIIB prototype is produced and the plans are transmitted back to the Scandinavian Sub-Urbs, but no more will be available for at least another year. Its builders decide to field test it, potting Posleen aerial vehicles and troops as they appear.
This story is more about the mystique of soldiering than about the war itself. The Waffen SS has gotten a bad name due to a few of its troops and officers. Yet most of the Waffen SS were among the best soldiers in the world. The French government -- who had nothing good to say about them publicly -- still preferentially recruited them for the Foreign Legion over even former French soldiers. The war against the Viet Minh was often fought by German speaking troops.
This work reflects the conservative slant of the authors, but I doubt that many military men/women are liberals. The US military is still composed primarily of conservatives, especially since the draft was abolished. Unfortunately, the effects of that decision have reduced the moderate elements in the US military. Now more of the command elements of all armed forces come from the service academies than in the past.
This scenario is probably more pessimistic than reasonable. Technical objections about nuclear weapons, air superiority and other subjects are relevant, but problematical. Moreover, the machinations of the Darhels are not the only aspects of the psywar in Europe.
Certain elements of the European populace are incapable of facing the realities of an alien invasion. Unlike the Americans in the War of the Worlds broadcast incident, the Europeans seem to deny the possibility of any such threat. OTOH, a similar denial process occurred in the American populace prior to World War II over the German threat. FDR is hated by some people even today because he happened to be right about Hitler.
BTW, many liberals in the US seem to be denying the possibility of any threat from Islamic terrorists. Plug in "alien Posleens" for "Islamic terrorists" and you have the basic premise of this story. Even official word of millions of aliens would be ignored by some people as "just another government scare tactic". Of course, the government DOES use scare tactics, but so do other groups. Sometimes they are true!
Highly recommended for Ringo & Kratman fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of alien invasions, military tactics and light romance.
-Arthur W. Jordin
Now, with John Ringo (it appears that Kratman did most of the writing), he has written a mature second novel, Watch on the Rhine.
His characters are excellently well drawn, and his writing style has matured considerably since his first book. He also stays unblinkingly <u>real</u> in his portrayal of humans in desperate straits.
His Greens and Watermelons are so bad that I kept asking myself, would they really do that? And I kept sinking back into the novel when my answer came back to me as "yes." And finally, his Posleen appear as more than evil BEMs...they have feelings, a culture, and are 'people' too.
I was very put off by the idea of resurrecting "Nazi Supermen" to fight the Posleen. Kratman and Ringo rang some surprising changes on the theme, with enough skill and daring to make you really think over what the Waffen SS really was, and if they were tarred with the Nazi brush somewhat mistakenly...and then they hit you in the face because even good people can fight for evil causes. When asked, one of the characters replies, "Oh, yes, there is one real Nazi here, and we all hate him, but he is a really good tank driver." Sometimes needs must, when the devil drives.
-----WARNING! SNERK ALERT!----
One subplot that just sticks with me, and is pivotal in the plot of the novel, is the death of Gudrun and especially the last scene in which we see her head. Kratman's writing is uncompromising and even though the scene bears all the hallmarks of the grotesque, it forces the reader to care about not only the humans, but in a strange sort of way, for the Posleen too. They are, after all, victims of the Aldenata and the Darhel, too.
Kratman (and Ringo, who must be an excellent teacher) have scored big this time.
The Bananaslug. at Baen's Bar
Top reviews from other countries
Not all the 'good guys' get to make it to the end of the book and the ones that do are shaken up by what they have to do. The Posleen get a bit more background explanation and some of the human acts horrify them. The Indowy solution to continuing the fight is a fantastic bit of logical thinking, brilliant.
It is fiction though. The SS were not such brilliant troops in real life, trained to follow orders certainly but there are times when a bit of free thinking on the battlefield is the best solution to the problem. Would the Germans call new tanks Tigers? I doubt it probably another big cat name. The design of the tanks are ludicrous, so this is fantasy sci-fi but certainly fun to read. And I really felt for all of the characters, along their individual journeys.
Very glad I bought and read this book.
I was at first fearful that perhaps resurrecting the dreaded SS was risky and wrong. The way the book portrays them however is very balanced and fair.
Yes there are one or two nasty nazis amongst them, participants of the baba yah massacre and the infamous camp guards, but it is balanced by an idea of never really considered before. That like many other veterans of elite units, some soldiers wanted to serve in the most elite cadre available, I remember some 101st airborne vets saying that of they were going into battle they wanted the best fighting alongside them.
I think the book realistically illustrates the political agony of the decision to bring back this unit to fight the alien horde. It is quite ironic that a force which once spearheaded the conquest of Europe is now in the vanguard of protecting it against the worst threat man has known.
It is a very well balanced book which does things tastefully and deosnt seek to glorify past actions of the SS, but neither does it shy away from the truth...in the darkest times, darker men are needed to see the job through.
My favourite book of the series so far, refreshing to see a European perspective of the alien invasion, well done to the authors, how's about a story of little England ls struggle next?