The Divide (novel)

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The Divide is a 1980 alternate history novel by William Overgard. It presents a narrative of resistance in the USA to a Nazi occupation.[1]

Plot[edit]

It's 1976. Hideki Tojo and Adolf Hitler are preparing to board trains that will carry them to their historic meeting marking the 30th Anniversary of their victory over the United States of America. The celebration is to be held at The Divide, a small town that is exactly equi-distant between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It is also the somewhat uneasy boundary the two empires, hence its code name: The Divide.

The division is both geographical and cultural. Germany has integrated the eastern part of defeated America into the Greater German Reich. This comes after all senior US government and military personnel are executed using the method employed for the July 24th conspirators in our reality. How far the executions went down the line of succession for the civilian government and the chain of command for the military is unknown. Suffice it to say that the American government was beheaded. In its place is a structure that is akin to what happened to the Czech part of Czechoslovakia. On the other hand, the Japanese occupied portion is part of the Greater Co-prosperity Sphere; it's more a colony than anything else. In both cases, the subjugation is complete...or should we say, almost complete.

The story commences with the assassination of the Japanese general who conquered the area using methods like those of Tomoyuki Yamashita in Malaya and Masaharu Homma in The Philippines. It then moves back and forth between the two areas of occupation, though the emphasis is heavily on the German side of the matter. The plot centers around the efforts of a SS anti-partisan officer seeking to find the perpetrators of the assassination and determine if it is a harbinger of actions at the Tojo/Hitler meeting.

As the action moves forward, we are slowly but steadily informed about details of this new German/American synthesis. It is a land of Europeans; the end result of a "Final Solution" that encompassed most other minorities, including Native Americans and blacks. What occurred in the Japanese sector is never addressed; though it's probably the same sort of ethnic cleansing took place though in a less industrialized manner (think the Rape of Nanjing instead of death camps). It is also a place that after 30 years is more-or-less accepting or perhaps acquiescent to the situation.

This is also the case for the resistance movement. There are elements scattered around the country in both occupied zones. They have some inter-group communication; however, by-and-large, the groups are not engaged in partisan activity. This is especially the case for the official component, a stay-behind military/scientific group charged by the president just before the surrender in 1946 with a secret project that could, if successful, reverse the country's fortunes. Their charge to develop a new weapon became - as the war ended and the new regimes taking over - so important the group feared any action would cause them to be discovered. Thus, doing nothing and remaining in what was more-or-less a prison - albeit a comfortable one - evolved into their mission long after the weapon was perfected. It fell, therefore, to newcomers - those who had carried out the only act of rebellion in years, perhaps decades - to agitate its use. They along with the surviving scientist set out to ambush the trains. This team, outsiders and misanthropes even by the standards of the 'survival-at-any-cost`stay-behinds head out with their device to try and change the course of history.

The book is written in a style that easily evokes images; this is not surprising as author William Overgard's full-time job was as the writer/illustrator of a comic strip. In addition, the narrative contains, from time-to-time, third-person comments that create a sense of the story being told after the fact, something at odds with the rest of the narrative. It's almost as if the author is acting as a Greek Chorus of sorts and is puzzling as it implies associated events outside the storyline but related to it..

This puzzlement dissipates as the book comes to an end. The malcontents and disaffected; the disenfranchised and threatened unite in an act of rebellion that needed little more than a "hero" to act as the catalyst. What will happen remains unclear but it's possible the events are ongoing.

Reception[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Butter (28 April 2009). The Epitome of Evil: Hitler in American Fiction, 1939-2002. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 54–. ISBN 978-0-230-62080-3.