Top audiobooks in alternate history

In Harry Turtledove's mesmerizing alternate history of World War II, the choices of men and fate have changed history. Now it is the winter of 1941. As the Germans, with England and France on their side, slam deep into Russia, Stalin's terrible machine fights for its life. But the agreements of world leaders do not touch the hearts of soldiers. The war between Germany and Russia is rocked by men with the courage to aim their guns in a new direction. England is the first to be shaken. Following the suspicious death of Winston Churchill, with his staunch anti-Nazi views, a small cabal begins to imagine the unthinkable in a nation long famous for respecting the rule of law. With civil liberties hanging by a thread, a conspiracy forms against the powers that be. What will this daring plan mean for the European war as a whole? Meanwhile, in America, a woman who has met Hitler face-to-face urges her countrymen to wake up to his evil. For the time being, the United States is fighting only Japan-and the war is not going as well as Washington would like. Can Roosevelt keep his grip on the country's imagination? Coup d'Etat captures how war makes for the strangest of bedfellows. A freethinking Frenchman fights side by side with racist Nazis. A Czech finds himself on the dusty front lines of the Spanish Civil War, gunning for Germany's Nationalist allies. A German bomber pilot courts a half-Polish, half-Jewish beauty in Bialystock. And the Jews in Germany, though trapped under Hitler's fist, are as yet protected by his fear of looking bad before the world-and by an outspoken Catholic bishop. With his spectacular command of character, coincidence, and military and political strategies, Harry Turtledove continues a passionate, unmatched saga of a World War II composed of different enemies, different allies-and hurtling toward a horrific moment. For a diabolical new weapon is about to be unleashed, not by the United States, but by Japan, in a tactic that will shock the world.

The bestselling author of The Small Backs of Children offer a vision of our near-extinction and a heroine—a reimagined Joan of Arc—poised to save a world ravaged by war, violence, and greed, and forever change history, in this provocative new novel.

In the near future, world wars have transformed the earth into a battleground. Fleeing the unending violence and the planet’s now-radioactive surface, humans have regrouped to a mysterious platform known as CIEL, hovering over their erstwhile home. The changed world has turned evolution on its head: the surviving humans have become sexless, hairless, pale-white creatures floating in isolation, inscribing stories upon their skin.

Out of the ranks of the endless wars rises Jean de Men, a charismatic and bloodthirsty cult leader who turns CIEL into a quasi-corporate police state. A group of rebels unite to dismantle his iron rule—galvanized by the heroic song of Joan, a child-warrior who possesses a mysterious force that lives within her and communes with the earth. When de Men and his armies turn Joan into a martyr, the consequences are astonishing. And no one—not the rebels, Jean de Men, or even Joan herself—can foresee the way her story and unique gift will forge the destiny of an entire world for generations.

A riveting tale of destruction and love found in the direst of places—even at the extreme end of post-human experience—Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan raises questions about what it means to be human, the fluidity of sex and gender, and the role of art as a means for survival.

“My wooing began in passion, was defined by violence and circumscribed by land; all these elements molded my soul.” So writes Charles O’Brien, the unforgettable hero of bestselling author Frank Delaney’s extraordinary novel—a sweeping epic of obsession, profound devotion, and compelling history involving a turbulent era that would shape modern Ireland. 

Born into a respected Irish-Anglo family in 1860, Charles loves his native land and its long-suffering but irrepressible people. As a healer, he travels the countryside dispensing traditional cures while soaking up stories and legends of bygone times–and witnessing the painful, often violent birth of land-reform measures destined to lead to Irish independence.

At the age of forty, summoned to Paris to treat his dying countryman–the infamous Oscar Wilde–Charles experiences the fateful moment of his life. In a chance encounter with a beautiful and determined young Englishwoman, eighteen-year-old April Burke, he is instantly and passionately smitten–but callously rejected. Vowing to improve himself, Charles returns to Ireland, where he undertakes the preservation of the great and abandoned estate of Tipperary, in whose shadow he has lived his whole life–and which, he discovers, may belong to April and her father.

As Charles pursues his obsession, he writes the “History” of his own life and country. While doing so, he meets the great figures of the day, including Charles Parnell, William Butler Yeats, and George Bernard Shaw. And he also falls victim to less well-known characters–who prove far more dangerous. Tipperary also features a second “historian:” a present-day commentator, a retired and obscure history teacher who suddenly discovers that he has much at stake in the telling of Charles’s story.

In this gloriously absorbing and utterly satisfying novel, a man’ s passion for the woman he loves is twinned with his country’s emergence as a nation. With storytelling as sweeping and dramatic as the land itself, myth, fact, and fiction are all woven together with the power of the great nineteenth-century novelists. Tipperary once again proves Frank Delaney’s unrivaled mastery at bringing Irish history to life.

Praise for Tipperary

“The narrative moves swiftly and surely. . . . A sort of Irish Gone With the Wind, marked by sly humor, historical awareness and plenty of staying power.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Another meticulously researched journey…Delaney’s careful scholarship and compelling storytelling bring it uniquely alive. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred)
The long-awaited new novel by America's master playwright and activist-a radical reimagining of our history and our hopes and fearsForty years in the making, The American People embodies Larry Kramer's vision of his beloved and accursed homeland. As the founder of ACT UP and the author of Faggots and The Normal Heart, Kramer has decisively affected American lives and letters. Here, as only he can, he tells the heartbreaking and heroic story of one nation under a plague, contaminated by greed, hate, and disease yet host to transcendent acts of courage and kindness.In this magisterial novel's sweeping first volume, which runs up to the 1950s, we meet prehistoric monkeys who spread a peculiar virus, a Native American shaman whose sexual explorations mutate into occult visions, and early English settlers who live as loving same-sex couples only to fall victim to the forces of bigotry. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton revel in unexpected intimacies, and John Wilkes Booth's motives for assassinating Abraham Lincoln are thoroughly revised. In the twentieth century, the nightmare of history deepens as a religious sect conspires with eugenicists, McCarthyites, and Ivy Leaguers to exterminate homosexuals, and the AIDS virus begins to spread. Against all this, Kramer sets the tender story of a middle-class family outside Washington, DC, trying to get along in the darkest of times.The American People is a work of ribald satire, prophetic anger, and dazzling imagination. It is an encyclopedic indictment written with outrageous love.
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