I was looking forward to reading The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick. I have read a number of his novels and have been wanting to read more and this is one I have heard talked amount more than almost any. Unfortunately this book was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. The difficulty is that I knew the story already. This shouldn't have mattered though because there was very little actual plot in the book.
In addition to this I had a lot of trouble caring at all about any of the characters. In fact I was so disconnected from them that I could find myself hardly knowing, or caring which of the characters was currently acting.
I fully admit that much of this was me more than the book and I actually got for more enjoyment out of reading reviews than out of the book itself because there are a lot of themes and ideas in this book that are brilliant far beyond what you might expect by dismissing this as an alternate history book.
This book takes place in a world where the NAZI's and Japan won the second world war and split the united states more or less in half.
This story takes place twenty years after that on the west coast of the united states. The Japanese are running the area with the Americans acting as second class citizens. Yet it is still far better there than in the NAZI occupied areas because the Japanese are honest, fair and the new generation seems to be going through a similar cultural change as many of the people of the 1960's beginning to question the way that their people are treating others.
One of the major driving forces of this book is the book “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.” A book written by the man in the high castle about an alternate reality where The United States and England won the second world war. But this is not actually our world either because in that world Churchill did not step down and England became a powerful empire leading to a third cold war.
All of this fits into one of the main themes of this book that is history or perhaps the lack of history. The idea that history is entirely in the mind. This is explored through a variety of of ways. The versions of alternate history are one of them but there is also an exploration of historical objects. The idea that there is no real difference between a true historical object and one that someone believes to be true.
There are a ton of great ideas in this story and I want to try it again at some point but throughout this story I felt as if I was just a bit behind and really missed many of the important points while I was reading it though in retrospect they are far more clear and even though I didn't enjoy this all the way through I would still recommend it for people who like the idea because this is well written and smart book and I think most people would really enjoy it.