This intelligent speculative novel depicts an alternate history in which, at the height of World War II, Earth is attacked by alien beings with weapons far more destructive than any possessed by the Allied or Axis forces. Turtledove (The Guns of the South) gives a surprisingly convincing flavor to the time-worn story of warring nations uniting to repel extraterrestrials; his human characters, both actual and invented, ring true as they struggle to trust each other after years of enmity, and although the alien threat has a B-movie feel, he makes an effort to portray the invaders sympathetically as well. The first in a projected series, the book ends where it began: in and around a battle. ... The historical details, especially those concerning the weapons and methods available in the 1940s to defend Earth, are accurate and well rendered.
From Library Journal
The year is 1942. In Russia, Hitler's panzers are fighting a losing battle; in China, Japanese invaders ravage the countryside; in England, the RAF watches the skies for enemy bombers; in Chicago, scientists frantically try to unlock the secrets of the atom--and in the skies overhead, an alien army launches its forces to conquer the Earth. Turtledove (The Guns of the South, LJ 9/1/92) excels in alternate history, and this panoramic exploration of a world at war with itself and with invaders from beyond the galaxy showcases his fertile imagination. A feast for history buffs as well as sf fans, this title belongs in most libraries.
Worldwar: In the Balance: 9.0
Worldwar: Tilting the Balance: 8.5
Worldwar: Upsetting the Balance: 8.0
The Native aspects
There are no Indian characters, but when people encounter a fighter who's fierce, wild, or painted, they sometimes liken him to a "Red Indian." However, in the third volume, Upsetting the Balance, the characters specifically compare the alien invasion of Earth to the European invasion of the Americas.
"I daresay the Red Indians weren't overjoyed at the prospect of Pilgrim neighbors either," Beaverbrook answered. "We must first make certain we aren't simply overwhelmed, as they were."
"That's an important point," Cordell Hunt said. "And one of the reasons the Indians got overwhelmed is that they never--or not often enough, anyway--put up a common fight against the white men. If a tribe had another tribe next door for an enemy, they wouldn't think twice about joining with the new settlers to clear 'em out. And then, a few years later, it would be their turn, and they probably wondered what the devil happened to them. We can't afford that, and we have to remember it. No matter how bad we think our neighbors are, living under the Lizards would be a damn sight worse."
Molotov thought not of Red Indians but of the tsars expanding Russian might at the expense of the nomads of the steppe and the principalities in the Caucasus. The principle, though, remained the same. And Hull was right: all the world leaders, even the Great Stalin, needed to remember it.
He turned in his saddle called to Bill Magruder: "Now I know what the Indians must've felt like, going up against the U.S. Cavalry back in my grandpa's day."
His second-in-command nodded. "Sitting Bull licked General Custer, but look at all the good it did him in the end. We can't just win fights now and then. We have to win the whole shootin' match."
Auerbach nodded. He'd been trained to think in terms of campaigns, which Sitting Bull certainly hadn't. He wondered what sort of global strategy that Lizards were trying to maintain. They'd plainly had one at the start of their invasion, but it seemed to have broken down in the face of unexpected human resistance.
To his surprise, Roundbush shook his head. "Not necessary, not insofar as what we're about now. The Red Indians hadn't the faintest notion how to smelt iron or make gunpowder, but when they got muskets in their hands come they had no trouble shooting at the colonials in America. That's where we are right now: we need to use the Lizards' devices against them. Understanding can come at its own pace."
"The Red Indians never did understand how firearms work," Goldfarb said, "and look what became of them."
"The Red Indians didn't have the concept of research and development, and we do," Roundbush said.
Kill or be killed
The books make the point I've made several times--for instance, in What Would ET Do? If we were faced with invaders who wanted to enslave us, we'd do anything to remain free. We'd send soldiers--and civilians--on suicide missions. We'd blow up factories or entire cities even if they contained humans as well as aliens. We'd kill the aliens whether they were guilty of raising arms against us or not.
In short, we'd follow the principle of "kill or be killed" just like the humans in Worldwar. Which is exactly what the Indians did when the Europeans invaded their lands. They tried to accommodate the foreign devils, but when that didn't work, they fought back. They killed the aliens before the aliens could kill them.
For more on the subject, see Justified Killings at Richland Creek and Was Jamestown Massacre Justified?