In the presence of mine enemies

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in the presence of mine enemies

In the Presence of Mine Enemies by Harry Turtledove

This book seemed interesting. It wasnt. It had incredibly long passages of intricately detailed bridge games. (Yes, bridge games. And not high stakes bridge or anything like that. The book wasnt set at a bridge tournament. It was just two main characters and their wives getting together to play bridge. And, boy howdy!, did they play bridge. For instance:

Willi dealt the first hand. And now to give myself thirteen diamonds, he said grandly.
As long as you give me thirteen hearts, I dont mind, Heinrich said.
Reality returned as soon as he picked up his hand, which showed the usual mixture of suits and ten points. Willi opened with a club. Heinrich passed. Erika said, Two clubs, which meant she had some support for Willi but not a great deal. He took it to three, after which everybody passed. And he made three clubs with no overtricks but without much trouble.
A leg, he said as Erika wrote their sixty points under the line.
Heinrich gathered up the cards and started shuffling. The only thing legs are good for is getting chopped off, he observed. He dealt out the next hand and opened with a spade. After a lively action, he and Lise got to four spades. Willi doubled. If they made it, they would take the game and wipe out the Dorsches partial score. If they went down, it would get expensive above the line.
Erika led a heart; Willi had been bidding them. When Lise laid out the dummy, Heinrich got an unpleasant surprise. He had the ace, queen, ten, and nine of spades, plus a little one. His wife had four little spades to the eight. That left the king and jack conspicuously missing, along with two little ones to protect them. Considering the other problems he had in the hand, it also left him in trouble.
Willi took the trick with the king of hearts, then led the ace. When that went through without getting trumped, he grinned at Heinrich and said, Got you.
Maybe. Heinrich shrugged. He thought Willi had him, too, but he was damned if hed admit it.
No maybes about it. Willi led a diamond. That wasnt the way to finish Heinrich off. He had the ace in his hand, while the king was on the board. He decided he would rather be in the dummy, so he took the trick with the king. Then he led a small spade from the dummy. Willi played another one. Heinrich hesitated, but only for a moment. He set down the ten. Behind the cards of the dummy, Lise blinked.
He felt like shouting when Erika sluffed a club. That meant Willi had all the oppositions spades. No wonder hed doubled. But it also meant... Happily, Heinrich said, Im going to finesse you right out of your shoes. (296-7)

And the point of all that? To show that Willi and Erika are having marital problems. Every chapter contained four pages of bridge playing, just so you could see how poorly Willi and Erika got along. Also, every chapter contained a scene where a woman who worked for a doctor tries to stop him from messing with the coffeemaker because he doesnt know how to use it. Theres no point, there. The woman is a minor character and the doctor even more so. Both could be cut from the book with very, very few changes.
Also, as the book progressed it became more and more of a fictionalization of the fall of the Soviet Union. I expected some imagination, but all he did was give new names to Gorbachev (Buckliger) and Yeltsin (Stolle), then move the action to Berlin and, bam!, youve got a novel.
I cant finish without including this sentence, which is possibly the dumbest sentence Ive ever read. His hair stuck out from under his cap in all directions, like the hay in a stack made by somebody who didnt know how to stack hay (218). What the hell?! He had to have been trying to give his editor the mickey, but she didnt realize it and now the dumbest sentence of all time is in print.
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Published 13.09.2019

In the Presence of Mine Enemies


In the Presence of Mine Enemies is a alternate history novel by American author Harry Turtledove , expanded from the eponymous short story. The novel depicts a world where the United States remained isolationist and did not participate in the Second World War, thus allowing victory to the Axis Powers , who divided the world among themselves. Set in , the novel focuses on Heinrich Gimpel and a small group of Jews who survived the Holocaust by passing as Gentiles. The events occur against a backdrop that parallels the Soviet Union 's last days, with characters based upon Mikhail Gorbachev , Boris Yeltsin , and others. Wehrmacht officer Heinrich Gimpel astonishes his year-old daughter, Alicia, with a secret that has been hidden from her all her life: the family is Jewish. He explains that the Gimpels, friends Walther and Esther Stutzman, and their extended families all belong to those remnants of Jews who now survive by hiding in plain sight within the very society that wants them dead. Now old enough, by family tradition, to be trusted with this life-or-death deception, Alicia is obliged to hide the truth from her friends, her classmates, and even her younger sisters even as she is forced to regard her school's racist curriculum from a new perspective that leaves her sick and angry over all the anti-Semitic propaganda that she always learned and parroted without question.

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The novel is centered on Heinrich Gimpel and a small group of Jews who have managed to survive the mass extermination by keeping their identities secret by living under forged "Aryan" credentials. One thread of the plot focuses on Alicia Gimpel , who discovers that she belongs to a wrongfully despised minority whom she has been taught all her life to passionately hate. The events of the book take place against a backdrop similar to the last days of the OTL Soviet Union , with characters recognizably based on Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, among others. Aside from Heinrich Gimpel 's observation that the United States remained neutral during the Second World War and watched the rest of the world fall to the Axis, the actual point of divergence is not described. Germany and Japan defeated the U. Himmler died in , and was succeeded by Kurt Haldweim. Haldweim is probably an analog to the real world Kurt Waldheim, a former Nazi who served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from to and President of Austria from to

Cover by Steve Stone. Reviewed by Steven H Silver. Unlike many stories which are expanded to novel length, however, this tale of Jews living in the heart of a Nazi Empire, does not feel padded and adds quite a bit to the original story. The book begins much the same way the story does, with Heinrich Gimpel, his wife, Lise, and several friends, informing their ten-year-old daughter that they are Jews, living in Berlin more than fifty years after the Nazis believed they had exterminated the Jews. Unlike the short story, Turtledove is able to examine many of the themes this revelation hints at, not least of which is Alicia Gimpel coming to terms with the fact that she is a member of a minority she has already been taught to despise.


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