#Wargame Library – Alternate History/FICINT for Wargamers (updated September 2022)

Excellent fodder for helping think about the “what if” in a wargame.

Ackerman, Elliot and Admiral James Stavridis, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, New York: Penguin Press, 2021. Another China war FICINT book in the mold of Ghost Fleet (below).

Bresnahan, Jim (Ed.), Refighting the Pacific War: An Alternative History of World War II, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2011. Using a slightly different approach, each chapter describes a situation and then learned commentary by authors and historians follows.

Bywater, Hector C., The Great Pacific War: The History of the American-Japanese Campaign 0f 1931-1933, Bedford: Applewood Book, original copyright 1925. Often called, “The book that predicted Pearl Harbor,” the reality is much deeper and is tied to advocacy regarding the development of U.S. military warplans in the inter-war period. Obvious inspiration for many wargames like Great War at Sea: War War Plan Orange (Avalanche Press, 1998) or Plan Orange: Pacific War 1932 – 1935 by Mark Herman from RBM Studios (2016).

Clancy, Tom, Red Storm Rising, New York: G.P. Putnam Sons, 1986. Co-written in parts with Larry Bond, lead designer of the Harpoon-series of wargames (Admiralty Trilogy Group). This includes the famous “Dance of the Vampires” chapter that was developed using Harpoon.

Cowley, Robert (Ed.), The Collected What If? Eminent Historians Image What Might Have Been (Includes the complete texts of What If? and What If? 2), New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001. More than just military alternative history…

Deighton, Len, SS-GB, New York: Sterling, 1979 (2012 edition). Britain under Nazi German rule. Essential tie-in to most any Operation Sealion wargame.

Deighton, Len, Spy Story, St. Albans: Panther Books Ltd., 1974. Interesting because wargames are used as a major plot point. According to the book back of my copy:

“Patrick Armstrong is a tough, dedicated agent and war-games player. But in Armstrong’s violent, complex world, war-games are all too often played for real. Soon the chase (or is it escape?) is on. From the secretive computerized college of war studies in London via a bleak, sinister Scottish redoubt to the Arctic ice cap where nuclear submarines prowl ominously beneath frozen wastes, a lethal web of violence and doublecross is woven. And Europe’s whole future hangs by a deadly thread…”

The beginning of each chapter has excerpts from the “TACWARGAME” wargame rules or a Glossary or other “Notes for Wargamers” from the “Studies Centre, London.”

Dick, Philip K., The Man in the High Castle, New York: Vintage Books, 1962 (1992 edition). Nightmare Nazi German and Imperial Japan rule a conquered America.

Downing, David, The Moscow Option: An Alternative Second World War, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2001. Moscow falls in ’41…then what?

Hackett, General Sir John & Other Top-Ranking NATO Generals & Advisors, The Third World War: August 1985, New York: Berkley Books, 1979.Written as an act of policy advocacy, this book reignited the genre of speculative military fiction (and policy advocacy) that had laid dormant since Bywater’s Great Pacific War from over 50 years earlier.

Harris, Robert, Fatherland: A Novel, New York: Random House, 1992 A masterpiece of world-building fiction. There are parts where, with a little imagination, one can see the broad outlines of “post-war” conflict.

Macksey, Kenneth (Ed.), The Hitler Options: Alternate Decisions of World War II, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1995. Ten short stories; my favorite may be “The Jet Fighter Menace: 1943” written by the esteemed Dr. Alfred Price.

Showalter, Dennis E. & Harold C. Deutsch (Eds.), If the Allies Had Fallen: Sixty Alternate Scenarios of World War II, New York: MJF Books, 2010. Sixty means much shorter, lesser developed scenarios.

**NEW**Stark, Tony, Ex Supra: A Novel by Tony Stark, (Self-Published): Amazon, 2022. a U.S.-PRC war driven by disinformation in 2035.

Singer, P.W. and August Cole, Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. The first in the new fictional intelligence (FICINT) genre of books picking up long after Hackett’s The Third World War.

Stieber, Whitley and James Kunetka, War Day: and the Journey Onward, New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1984. While at least one chapter may make a good Harpoon scenario, I found the post-World War III elements also intriguing for post-apocalyptic scenario design.

Tsouras, Peter G. (Ed), Cold War Hot: Alternate Decisions of the Cold War, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2003. Ten short stories from end of World War II thru the Cold War.

Tsouras, Peter G., Disaster at D-Day: The Germans Defeat the Allies, June 1944, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1994. One of the earliest Alternate History titles in the 1990’s.

Tsouras, Peter G., Gettysburg: An Alternate History, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1997. Unlike many other Tsouras books this is authored exclusively by Peter.

Tsouras, Peter G. (Ed.), Rising Sun Victorious: The Alternate History of How the Japanese Won the Pacific War, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2001.

Turtledove, Harry, S.M. Stirling, Mayr Gentle, and Walter Jon Williams, Worlds That Weren’t, New York: Penguin, 2003. Four novellas by master authors.


Feature image Red Storm Rising, TSR, 1989 (personal collection)courtesy

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

One thought on “#Wargame Library – Alternate History/FICINT for Wargamers (updated September 2022)

  1. Talking of Len Deighton novels, The Ipcress File is compelling reading, but I think Len Deighton’s most enthralling book by far was Funeral in Berlin. Deighton took it upon himself to counter both Ian Fleming and David Cornwell aka John Le Carré with what I call “raw espionage”. It is rumoured that on the few occasions they met, near nuclear arguments ensued. They had a lot in common as spy fiction writers although paradoxically while on occasion Deighton arguably produced the most realistic stuff he had no direct experience of military intelligence. In that vein it is a shame more espionage thrillers aren’t fact based. Courtesy of being factual extra dimensions are added. First, you can read about what’s in the novel in press cuttings and history books. Second, if even just marginally autobiographical, the author has the opportunity to convey his/her genuine hopes and fears as experienced in real life. An example of such a “real” thriller is Beyond Enkription, the first novel or memoir in The Burlington Files series. It’s worth mentioning in this context because, coincidentally, some critics have likened its protagonist to a “posh and sophisticated Harry Palmer” and the first novel in the series is indisputably noir, maybe even Deightonesque but unquestionably anti-Bond. It’s worth checking out this enigmatic and elusive thriller. Not being a remake it may have eluded you!

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