|Series||The War That Came Early|
|Publication date||July 15, 2014|
|Preceded by||Two Fronts|
The original name evidently referred to the fact that in this history, unlike in OTL, the Second World War ends "not with a bang, but with a whimper", i.e., the war ends with an inconclusive peace.
After Adolf Hitler's highly ill-advised decision to declare war on the United States in early 1944, Germany sees a military coup that successfully assassinates Hitler, ousts the Nazis and brokers a peace with the Allies, thereby remaining a major European power with no limits on its armaments. Moreover, though originally having gone to war over the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, France and Britain allow Germany to retain that conquest.
On the positive side, German Jews have endured years of hardship and persecution, but not the Holocaust of OTL; most of them survive the war and are able to renew normal life with the military rulers who overthrew Hitler abolishing the anti-Jewish legislation. However, unlike in OTL, there is no Allied occupation to foster democracy in Germany - which seems destined to remain under an open-ended military dictatorship, Conservative and Nationalist though not Nazi. Indeed, they choose the flag of the old Kaisers as their banner, shunning the colours of the well-meaning but weak Weimar Republic.
The British military government that took power in Coup d'Etat remains in power at the end of Last Order, despite several years of promises of elections. Meanwhile, the government, military or civilian, will have to preside over dissolution of the British Empire, one aspect of this timeline similar to those of OTL.
On both sides of Europe there are very significant differences in political configuration from those of OTL: In Eastern Europe, the pre-war right-wing dictatorships remain in power in such countries as Poland, Hungary and Romania, rather then being replaced by communist regimes. Conversely, Spain ends up ruled by the Communist-dominated Spanish Republicans who emerge completely victorious over their Nationalist foes, the opposite of the outcome in OTL.
In Italy, Benito Mussolini's rule becomes more tenuous following the demise of his Nazi allies, but his final fate is undisclosed. This Italy is spared the devastation of being a battlefield over several years, which happened in OTL. Here, the only fighting in which Italians were involved was in North Africa. Greece and Yugoslavia, two countries Italy and Germany invaded in OTL, completely avoided any direct involvement in the war.
On the global level, this Second World War ends with no direct American involvement in European affairs and no American troops in Europe. The Soviet Union remains on the margins of Europe, having made only minor territorial gains (the Baltic countries and the Vilnius region) and its armies nowhere near central Europe. On the other hand, the USSR is spared the high death toll of OTL.
At the end of the book, the United States and Soviet Union are allied in a war against Japan, which still controls large swaths of the Pacific and Vladivostok. The novel ends without depicting the final resolution of that theater.
Finally, a very significant change from OTL is that this Second Word War ends with no one possessing atomic bombs. There is no knowing who would first develop such bombs and how they would be used, a fact which Albert Einstein - who has been referenced throughout the series but makes a personal appearance only in the absolute final scene - finds highly worrying.