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Publication date: May 2018
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Time-travelling Nazis fight the War of Independence to create a fascist USA

April 1945. The Russians are closing in on Berlin. Luftwaffe General Ritter Von Greim and his mistress, Nazi heroine Hannah Reitsch, fly into the beleaguered city. Hitler has ordered them to his bunker. There he entrusts them with Germany’s secret weapon - a weapon which will win the war for the Nazis and change the course of history forever…

December 1776. The American War of Independence rages. George Washington and his army face defeat. Following a series of disastrous battles, the Continental Army has retreated from New York to Pennsylvania. Congress has fled Philadelphia. The army, a ragbag of exhausted, ill prepared civilians, is close to collapse. King George’s army is being bolstered by the arrival of the finest mercenaries in Europe, Hessian troops from Germany. Leading these Germans is Baron Von Stueben, a former officer of Frederick the Great. While camped at Trenton, his forces capture Edward Hand, one of Washington’s most trusted field officers. Sending him back alongside his emissary - one Hannah Reitsch – Von Steuben offers Washington information to mastermind a surprise attack upon the garrison at Trenton and proposes to bring his troops over to the American side.

The Battle of Trenton marks a turning point for the colonists and is soon followed by further victories. Von Stueben wins an immediate reputation for battlefield heroics and masterful strategy. As the war creeps into 1777, the Germans become the cornerstone of the rapid success of the Continental Army, their influence spreading everywhere.

Amidst the fighting, one man grows increasingly suspicious. Hand, who has been working closely with the Germans, begins to question the motives of these men. Their ideology is a world apart, and he is shocked by their barbarity during a raid on a British supply camp.

But Hand is framed for the death of an high ranking American General, and leaves the army in disgrace…only to reappear later, allied with freed slaves, in Philadelphia – just as Von Stueben launches the putsch that will topple Washington and his allies and win him the leadership of the new nation.

What vision of America will win out, that of the founding fathers or the nascent fascism of Von Steuben? A society based on the Declaration of Independence or the values of Mein Kampf?

I’ve spent my career in television, in various guises including Head of Entertainment at the BBC and now as Chief Creative Officer for Sony. During that time I have obliquely and not so obliquely been involved with the creation of lots of great television programmes and formats, from Strictly Come Dancing to, Dragons Den, and turning programmes into global brands, such as Top Gear, Doctor Who and Dancing with the Stars. Now I work with a range of production companies that make everything from The Crown for Netflix to the Italian version of The Voice and the Chinese version of Mad about You. None of this has been dull. When I think I need to impress people a little more I do let slip that I have a PhD in Economic and Social History.

“I’ve never known cold like this,” thought Hand.

The temperature had dropped to something beyond freezing, driving sheets of iron sleet, thousands upon thousands of icy pinpricks that stung the skin and cut through clothing. The river itself appeared tormented by the cold of the night, thrashing willfully, protesting against the ice forming by throwing chunks of it into the air. There were thirty or so men and half a dozen horses on the flat-bottomed Durham boat, still filthy from its usual job of moving pig iron from the works up in Philadelphia. In silence, the old boat inched slowly across the raging Delaware, propelled by oarsmen cursing under their breath. The only sounds, the thwack of huge lumps of ice buffeting the sides of the boat and the occasional moan of a horse driven to distraction by the pain of the weather and the rocking of the boat.

“This cold is total, yet he stands there, aloof, proud, leading the way. And there she is with him, as insensible of the conditions, as if she were taking a pleasure punt down the Charles River.” Hand marveled to himself at the sight at the prow of the boat.

Washington, stood tall at the front, jaw jutting into the abyss. A single lantern on the prow, lighting him, guiding the boat. Just behind, Reitsch as firm as any sentinel, eyes fixed on the darkness ahead. The General had asked for her to be kept close to him throughout the expedition. If the plan was proved a trick, he would seek immediate redress. But to Hand’s eye, there was already something else there, some form of bond between the two of them. An intangible trust.

It was clear that the crossing was taking far longer than anticipated. They had arrived late at the McKonkey’s, the first embarkation not starting until well after six. Each crossing took thirty minutes, without the loading and unloading of men, horses and artillery. And the conditions were steadily deteriorating, so that each trip was harder, more risky and slower than the last as the storm grew wilder, more dangerous with each beat.

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