Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Interwar imaginary wars

A separate but related topic to Interwar Imagi-nations are interwar imaginary wars.

These are international and civil wars that might have taken place in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, but that did not. Examples of the latter include a VERY BRITISH CIVIL WAR and THE END OF A COUNTRY THAT NEVER WAS. The second of these is Rudi Geuden's vision (and that of the other members of THE ANTWERP FUSILIERS) of what might have happened in Belgium if it had undergone a similar dynastic crisis as the UK did in the late 1930s.

These are, of course, the tip of a very large iceberg. There were several authors who wrote books and stories about what might have happened had a left-wing-inspired revolution taken place in the UK in the 1920s ... something that seemed a real possibility to people at the time.

In the 'real world' there were a whole raft of potential conflicts that might have taken place, but did not. For example, the German threats to annex the Sudetenland by force that led to the Munich Agreement of 1938 could have caused a European war if France and the UK had stood firm and refused to allow the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. This is one example of many, but it shows that the period between the First and Second World Wars is well worth greater study by wargamers looking for something a bit different.

6 comments:

  1. I always had half an idea to fight and American Civil War set in the late 1930's - possibly at the same time as the war in Europe starts. Could be interesting...

    Ian

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  2. Stryker,

    Would it just be a re-run of the original with 1930s weapons or would it be more like Turtledove's idea about a war between states that have been separate for 70 or so years?

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Another conflict set in the 30's was featured in Floyd Gibbons' "Red Napoleon". Its evident racism makes one cringe, but the military details are still fascinating. Gibbons must have been a naval enthusiast; some of his land and air battles are no more than summaries, but he details the fleets engaged in The Battle of the Windward Passage, right down to naming the British and French capital ships which had been absorbed by the Communists' navy. Well worth a look, notwithstanding the Yellow Peril crap.

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  4. Chris J,

    This another 'alternative history' set in the interwar period that I have never heard about before.

    Many thanks for passing this on.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Gibbons wrote it in 1929, when the "Yellow Peril" hysteria was really getting cranked up. The "Red Napoleon" was a Mongolian officer in the Red Army who assassinates Stalin, takes over the USSR, and then begins his attempt at world conquest. His slogan is "conquer and breed", in the belief that racism will never be ended until there are no more distinct "racial groups".

    Some of the passages in the book are quite horrifying, e.g. the slaughter of every man, woman, and child in Australia; others are just goofy. Gibbons apparently subscribed to the "Victory Through Airpower" school of thought, inasmuch as some of his air battles involved thousands of planes on each side (in the air at the same time!)

    All in all, it's a fascinating journey through the fears, prejudices, and convictions of the inter-war years. I checked Amazon to see if it's still around, and was surprised to find that copies can be had quite cheaply.

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  6. Chris J,

    Your mention of the infamous 'Yellow Peril' stories reminded me that Jack London wrote THE UNPARALLELED INVASION in 1910 about the emergence of China during the 1920s as a world power bent on domination.

    I also remembered THE GREAT PACIFIC WAR by Hector Bywater. It predicted a naval war between Japan and the USA which was - in some ways - very prophetic.

    All the best,

    Bob

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