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1632 by Eric Flint

Published by Baen Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

What happens when a cosmic accident swaps a present-day West Virginia mining town with an equivalent chunk of German countryside in the middle of the Thirty Years' War?

Everything seemed normal enough when UMWA local leader Mike Stearns' younger sister was married to the son of a powerful businessman. Then the Ring of Fire fell and nothing was ever the same.

Suddenly the outside world they've taken for granted is gone. When Mike and several of his friends hop into a pickup truck and head out to investigate, they discovers that US Route 250 ends abruptly in a wall of dirt cut so smoothly it at first appears to be made of glass.

When they scale it, they discover a strange, war-wracked landscape where armored men torture a farmer and rape his wife. There can be no question about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

When the quick and decisive firefight is over, they make an even more horrifying discovery. They are now in the midst of one of the most destructive wars in the history of Western Civilization, surpassing even World War II in terms of the percentage of populations killed, if not in raw numbers. The Thirty Years' War, the last of the Wars of Religion, is approximately halfway through, and if things continue as they did in the history Grantville left, they and their children will be facing fifteen more years of rampaging armies that are often little better than bands of thugs.

Mike and his fellow miners decide they can't just wait for things to happen -- they're going to take a hand in trying to make this world a little better place to live in. But to do that, they are going to have to fight.

And fight is one thing they do well, whether against bands of deserters or full-blown armies. Not only do they have technology three centuries in advance of their opponents, but they have the advantages of a culture in which everyone is educated and familiar with advanced technology. But those advantages can only go so far with an entire world ranged against them, so they must do something far more difficult.

If they are going to forge a lasting society with the power to make a real difference in their new world, they must find allies. But whom can they trust in a society where the fundamentals modern Americans take for granted are often considered to be sheer madness?

Review posted December 14, 2008

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