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The Man in the High Castle

 
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2006 7:17 pm    Post subject: The Man in the High Castle Reply with quote


The Man in the High Castle


What would the world be like today if the United States hadn't abandoned isolationism in WOrld War II? If not only had Germany and Japan conquered Europe and Asia, but the United States as well? Even if you have no sense of History, you must realize that it would be a much, much different place.

This novel was written in 1962 - not all that long after the end of the second World War - and is populated entirely with the citizens of an unfamiliar America; an America whose people are downtrodden and hopeless in the face of the might of the Hitler's Reich and the Japanese Imperial machine.

Jews, Chinese, blacks and any other people who don't measure up to the Reich or Imperial standards are considered less than human. They are used as slave labor or even routinely exterminated (by the Germans, anyway). The Reich carries out unchecked genocide on a global scale. So overwhelmed are the conquered that they even begin to see the victories of their conquerors in a positive light and to believe the hateful propaganda.
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And after all, they had been successful with the Jews and Gypsies and Bible students. And the Slavs had been rolled back two thousand years' worth, to their heartland in Asia. Out of Europe entirely, to everyone's relief. Back to riding yaks and hunting with bow and arrow. And those great glossy magazines printed in Munich and circulated around to all the libraries and newsstands...one could see the full-page color pictures for oneself: the blue-eyed, blond-haired Aryan settlers who now industriously tilled, culled, plowed, and so forth in the vast grain bowl of the world, the Ukraine. Those fellows certainly looked happy. And their farms and cottages were clean. You didn't see pictures of drunken dull-witted Poles anymore, slouched on sagging porches or hawking a few sickly turnips at the village market. All a thing of the past, like rutted dirt roads that once turned to slop in the rainy season, bogging down the carts.
...So it all came back to what he had told his fellow store owners; what the Nazis have which we lack is - nobility. Admire them for their love or work or their efficiency...but it's the dream that stirs one.


But not all the conquered are so easily swayed or find themselves in admiration of their conquerors.
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Am I racially kin to this man? So closely that for all intents and purposes it is the same? Then it is in me, too, the psychotic streak. A psychotic world we live in. How long have we known this? Faced this? And - how many of us do know it? Not Lotze. Perhaps if you know you are insane then you are not insane. Or are you becoming sane, finally. Waking up. I suppose only a few are aware of all this. Isolated persons here and there. But the broad masses ... what do they think? All those hundreds of thousands in this city, here. Do they imagine that they live in a sane world? Or do they guess, glimpse, the truth...?


So many once-proud Americans become boot-licking sycophants who feel no pride in their heritage and look upon their fellow Americans with contempt. It's scary...because it's a frighteningly accurate portrayal of the nature of man that can easily be verified by just observing those around us for any length of time.

There are several diverse characters whose fates are intertwined in the story. The title of the book comes from the home of one of these characters, an author, who has published an alternate version of history - in which the U.S did not sit complacent until it was too late; guaranteeing an Allied victory. He lives with a constant threat of termination, should the Axis leaders find him. He is rumored to live in contempt of the Axis powers in a heavily fortified camp known as "High Castle," secure from the might of the Axis juggernaut.

The book addresses the failings (and occasionally the strengths) of human nature as much as it does the what if questions of "alternate history." Dick has a talent for writing truly introspective fiction. And yet, as this book draws to a close, the reader is left wondering...are the events of this story an alternate history? A parallel universe?

Who knows? Dick's not saying; he administers a ferocious kick to the balls with the ending and leaves it wide open for interpretation (unless I'm just thick).
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