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The Last Article

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"The Last Article"  
Fantasy&SF Jan1988
Author Harry Turtledove
First Appearance Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Collected

Kaleidoscope

The Best Military Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century
Illustrator Jill Bauman
Genre(s) Alternate History
Publication date January 1988

"The Last Article" is a short alternate history story by Harry Turtledove (originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1988; reprinted in There Will Be War VII: Call to Battle! (edited by Jerry Pournelle, 1988), the Turtledove collection Kaleidoscope (1990), in The Best Military Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century, (Turtledove and Martin H. Greenberg, eds., 2001), and in the omnibus volume 3xT (2004). It was also translated into German and reprinted in the anthology Hiroshima soll leben! (Hiroshima Shall Live!, Karl Michael Armer, 1990).

Set in 1947, "The Last Article" depicts the occupation of India by the Nazis following their victory in World War II. The point of divergence appears to be the success of Operation Sea Lion in 1940. Mohandas Gandhi continues to employ techniques of Satyagraha against the occupation forces led by Field Marshal Walther Model. While the techniques may have worked well against the British, the Germans respond with violence. Despite Jawaharlal Nehru's urging that Gandhi to change tactics, Gandhi does not comprehend the horrific violence the Nazis were willing to employ, and refuses. He is finally arrested and summarily executed by Model.

The theme of this story is summed up at the end, as Gandhi realizes that his pacifism worked because the British were at least capable of being ethical, although they didn't always act ethically. The Nazis, on the hand, were by definition unethical, and so had to be met with force.

The story title comes from a line in Gandhi's 1922 address to a British court. "Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed."

Literary NoteEdit

Turtledove includes certain details and plot points that suggest that "The Last Article" could take place in the same timeline as In the Presence of Mine Enemies. Specifically, American neutrality during World War II seems the primary Point of Divergence in both, Britain meets defeat early on, and the Soviet Union is finally defeated sometime later. In the Presence of Mine Enemies notes that India is a critical part of the Greater German Reich. Turtledove has never confirmed this.

"The Phantom Tolbukhin" could also fit into the In the Presence of Mine Enemies timeline. However, it cannot be in the same universe as "The Last Article".  In "The Phantom Tolbukhin", Georgy Zhukov is killed during Stalin's Great Purge in 1937-8. In "The Last Article",  Zhukov is executed by Walther Model in 1946. Since Zhukov is not mentioned in In the Presence of Mine Enemies, neither reference contradicts the longer book.

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