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Reviewed by Leonard William Smuts for Readers' Favorite
Sometimes a single event can change the course of history. Author Matthew William Frend explores just such a possibility in a future world that enjoys peace, stability and prosperity. The government of the new era bases its cornerstone philosophies on lessons from the past and from time to time announces new revelations which are referred to as Enlightenments. Having pondered how the brutality of warfare led to the lasting peace, the central character in the form of Arjon looks back through the digitized archives from his vantage point in the year 2265. Advances in artificial intelligence make it possible for him to replay complex scenarios based on historical facts. This will identify critical moments and predict alternative outcomes if circumstances had been different. The result of Arjon’s investigation points to the death of American General George Patton in a car accident during World War II as a pivotal moment in world history. In The Free World War scenario, Patton survives the accident and goes on to defeat not only Germany, but also the forces of communist Russia in an alternative 1946. Due to Patton’s dynamic leadership and his influence over key politicians, the overthrow of Stalin leads to world peace on a much larger scale than was achieved at the time. With Patton dead, this could not have occurred. Ultimately, Arjon launches his own concept for a new Pillar of Enlightenment, based on a revised understanding of history where peace is the result of sacrifice and purpose.
The decision by Matthew William Frend to use the survival of the mercurial General Patton as the basis for a new world order is both original and inspired. Although his military career was at times controversial, Patton’s bold and aggressive style and anti-communist stance would have made him a leading candidate to take the fight against communism directly to its source. The Free World War alternates between a hypothetical reality in the future and a retrospective look at World War II. There is a very different outcome that, in turn, makes the alternative and better future possible. The events of World War II are vividly described in their stark reality, as well as newer weapons that never saw action in the conflict but came into play in the revised scenario. The idealized future world is portrayed in a manner that raises many questions as to what mankind will eventually achieve. The expanded role of artificial intelligence is explored and I particularly enjoyed the alternative reality game that was made possible through its application. This is a thought-provoking book and the action progresses simultaneously on two fronts at a brisk pace. The characters are interesting, authentic, and the book will have wide appeal.