*Blackout* is the first of two separate volumes (along with *All Clear*) published in the same year, but they really make up one long novel. And it is terrific.

It is May, 1940, England. American reporter Mike Davis accidentally gets on a leaky boat in Dover which is headed to rescue English soldiers from Dunkirk. Eileen O’Reilly is a servant at an English country home taking care of bratty children evacuated from London. Polly Sebastian is a sales girl at a London department store, heading for air raid shelters every night. In London the Blitz is on, with Hitler’s planes attempting to bomb London into submission. The future of England and Western Civilization is at stake, and it doesn’t look good for England.

But these three people – and others besides – are not who they say they are. Actually they are historians – from the year 2060, when reliable time travel has been developed. They were just supposed to be observers of the war, but now they are trapped in the past with no way home. Could their presence here cause some small event that tilts the victory toward Germany? Could they die in the bombings?

The best writers of fiction have an almost magical ability to weave a setting, plot, and characters so well that the supposedly imaginary world seems more intense, more focused, and more REAL than the world that surrounds you. Connie Willis is one of those writers, especially in this gigantic combination of science fiction and historical novel. This book is the result of many months of research into the daily lives of ordinary people during the Blitz.

If you have the time to spend, this will be a reading experience that you won’t forget. You will certainly have a new appreciation of what millions of people went through and accomplished against what seemed like the highest of odds.

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