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Fallout

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Fallout  
Fallout cover
Author Harry Turtledove
Cover artist Dmitri Ezepov
Series The Hot War
Genre(s) Alternate history
Publisher Del Rey
Publication date July 19, 2016
Preceded by Bombs Away
Followed by Armistice
Fallout is the second volume in Harry Turtledove's The Hot War series. It was released on July 19, 2016.

Fallout begins in June 1951, in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Paris, and ends in May 1952. The Soviet Union and its allies advance through West Germany in spite of heavy resistance from NATO forces. As the Red Army and its allies are on the verge of reaching the German border with the Netherlands, Charles de Gaulle, (who has effectively assumed power in France following the destruction of Paris), seeks aid from the U.S. to continue on in the fight. Despite West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer's pleadings that the U.S. not use atomic weapons in West Germany, President Harry Truman and Defense Secretary George Marshall realize that their only remaining option is to attack Soviets' forward positions on the east banks of the Rhine, sacrificing West German cities in order to save Western Europe. Truman and Marshall speculate that, due to their much smaller nuclear arsenal, the Soviet Union will retaliate by attacking more European cities.

Although Truman expresses concern that the Soviets will attack the cities on the East Coast of the United States, Marshall assures him that this is impossible, as Soviet bombers cannot carry enough fuel to reach that far.

The American nuclear strikes in West Germany are largely successful, as they devastate the Soviet Union's frontlines and inflict massive losses on their best units. As the winds spread radioactive fallout across West Germany, large numbers of surviving Soviet troops are either incapacitated or die due to the effects of radiation poisoning. Consequently, the Red Army is forced to begin a tactical retreat, allowing NATO forces to push the front eastward. Following the attacks, Truman makes a public announcement calling for both sides to pull their forces back to the 1950 borders and declare the war a draw. However, Stalin refuses and vows to continue the conflict, while Truman becomes convinced that killing the Soviet leader will be the only way to end the war.

In retaliation, the Soviets attack American forces in South Korea, wiping out Pusan.  This, in addition to the earlier destruction of the all of major ports of the U.S. West Coast and the Panama Canal, leaves he American situation in Korea desperate, forcing Truman to consider launching more nuclear strikes against the Chinese, and possibly attempt to kill Mao by targeting China's cities. The Soviets also destroy Antwerp, Belgium, which had served as a major logistical base for the allied war effort. In September 1951, the Soviets destroy the air force base at Sculthorpe, United Kingdom; the resulting atomic blast also destroys nearby town of Fakenham.

Both powers start suffering internal problems. Truman, tired of the mounting criticism from the Republican Party, and Senator Joseph McCarthy in particular, and overwhelmed by the stress of the war, announces he will not run for re-election in 1952. The Soviets, already struggling with the devastation of their economy and infrastructure due to the destruction of nearly all of their major cities, face armed uprisings in Hungary and Slovakia against the Communist governments, forcing them to divert troops from their frontlines to put down these rebellions. Determined to crush any dissent, Stalin orders the city of Bratislava carpet-bombed but refrains from using nuclear weapons, electing to conserve the Soviet Union's remaining nuclear arsenal. Meanwhile, the Red Army's manpower shortage continues to worsen due to the massive losses sustained in the war, leading to speculation that senior members of the Communist party may have to be drafted if the war lasts much longer.

With the uprisings in Eastern Europe and the Red Army in retreat, Truman believes that the war may have finally turned in favor of the allies and becomes confident that the worst of the crisis has passed for the United States. However, his positive outlook proves to be short-lived; In May 1952, Stalin strikes back against the United States - with horrifying results. After secretly developing the ability to refuel their bombers in-flight (and thereby extend their range), the Soviets launch an attack on the American East Coast, catching the United States completely off-guard. The cities of New York, Boston and Washington are devastated in the attacks; the two atomic bombs dropped on the capital kill most of Truman's cabinet and the senior staffs of most of the federal departments. So many Senators and Representatives are killed that neither Congressional house can hold a quorum. Most of the candidates seeking the presidency, including Joseph McCarthy, Robert Taft, Hubert Humphrey, Alben Barkley, Estes Kefauver and Averell Harriman, are killed as well. Truman, who happened to be in Buffalo, New York on the date of the attack, survives, but he soon learns that the White House has been vaporized and that his wife and daughter are dead. The Pentagon is also destroyed in the attack, killing Secretary Marshall and much of America's military leadership. The Washington Monument is melted down to a stub and the Capitol Building is burnt out and shattered. In New York, most of the city's skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, are destroyed or toppled. In Boston, the USS Constitution is burned down to the waterline. Philadelphia, America's third largest city, is also targeted for destruction but is spared when the assigned Soviet bomber crashes in a small community in New Jersey before it can drop its atomic bomb. News reports later state that hundreds of thousands of Americans are dead and that the damage is the billions of dollars.

After coming to grips with the full extent of the destruction, and being advised by Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Vinson (who, along with six of the eight associate justices, were in St. Louis during the attacks) that he can temporarily assume near-absolute control of the American government, Truman vows that he will make Stalin pay.

The novel ends with the United States launching numerous retaliatory nuclear strikes against the Soviet Union's remaining population centers; the cities of Murmansk and Odessa are among those destroyed in the American counterattack. These attacks, combined with a large revolt against the communist government in Poland, further drain the resources of the still retreating Red Army.

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