John and Joy have totally prevented World War One, but the best of their accomplishments has yet to come, which they “would celebrate by getting stupefyingly crocked.”1 Aren’t you so excited, you guys? Can’t you just feel the tension and suspense?

After John dreams about Jimmy Wilson, he feels better about accidentally-on-purpose causing Jagow’s suicide. This will never be brought up again.

He gets up, while Joy is still sleeping, and finds his Super Secret Mission Notebook, which has newspaper clippings from his original universe. He muses about all the lives they’ve saved, and goes back to bed. I’m not sure what the point of this scene is, really. It’s a little late for Rummel to start the introspection now.

After a line break, our alleged heroes go for the top brass, the Chancellor of Germany himself, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg. Rummel says he was responsible for the war, blah blah blah I don’t care at this point. John and Joy bribe some people into revealing his secrets, and think it will be pretty easy to get him to resign.

But they can’t just walk up to the chancellor and ask for an appointment.2 He has important chancellory stuff to do. So they get this guy, Franz Kleinsteuber, who Rummel claims has a lot of influence with the emperor, but who he has just made up, to intervene and get the emperor himself to make Bethmann-Hollweg meet with them. I cannot even quantify how unlikely this is.

But it all goes through,3 and a week later our so-called heroes meet the chancellor. He is described in such a way that Rummel was just saying what a photograph of him looked like, and compares him to a terrier. Not exactly the “formidable” that he is claimed to be.

Rummel feels the need to remind us that the Chancellor of Germany speaks German. John answers in German, and tries to be Don Corleone. The chancellor is skeptical of their claim to be secret agents.

Now, what is the chancellor’s deepest, darkest secret? Supposedly, he fathered a child out of wedlock, who is now in an orphanage, and he has not cared for his offspring at all. John is brazen enough to actually show him a photo of the child in question. Now, for all we know Bethmann-Hollweg could have had a child resulting from a one-night stand, but there is absolutely no evidence of this. On the other hand, it has been a good number of years since John and Joy showed up in the past, so this could be handwaved away as part of the butterfly effect, but the butterfly effect only happens in this story when it’s convenient for Rummel.

Bethmann-Hollweg says that if news of this gets out, it will destroy his career, and instead of ordering the two strangers out, asks for assurance that his boss doesn’t know. Now, John is quite willing to be reasonable, and to destroy all evidence in exchange for his resignation. He even offers to support the chancellor’s family (but excluding the kid in the orphanage, I think) if they move to Switzerland. Now, wouldn’t the emperor be getting suspicious about all his subordinates who all suddenly up and moved to Switzerland?

John offers to give him money, but Bethmann-Hollweg refuses, saying (in a somewhat Narm-filled way) that he will resign for the good of Germany. He is probably the most honorable of all Rummel’s antagonists… and a good deal better than Joy, for that matter. So he resigns one week later, and John is okay with it. Joy does nothing in that scene, and Rummel even points out that she was unneeded. Not that I would have wanted her to do anything; she’d just make it worse. Rummel should not have included her in the scene to begin with.

There is a line break before our protagonists head for their next intervention, against the Black Hand. They really should have done this earlier. John tapes a note to Joy’s bathroom mirror informing her of the situation and offering a course of action:

“Attention: The Black Hand Society will assassinate the heir to the Austrian throne on June 28, 1914 when the archduke and his wife are on a state visit to Serajevo. sic This triggered World War I in the Old Universe. The Black Hand Society has members in the Serbian Army and supporters throughout the Serbian government. Apis, the alias of Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic, leads it, and as head of Serbian military intelligence he is beyond our influence. We could assassinate him, but someone else might well take his place and arrange the assassination of the archduke. (page 294)

Now… what do I say about this? It is too little and too late for Rummel to say that certain historical figures are beyond the reach of his Mary Sues. They have and they will eliminate even more powerful people as the story goes on. Furthermore, I have brought up the issue of others taking the places of their victims before. Why does Rummel only care about it now? This is One-Shot Revisionism, which raises more questions than it answers, and is not good practice.

John and Joy deal with this rather quickly. They plant some documents in Dimitrijević’s house somehow, and get the government to raid it. Screw you, Fourth Amendment!4 This gets him arrested, and somehow gets the Black Hand shut down. But I thought they just said that this wouldn’t work. Rummel sets up a plot point and contradicts it on the same page.

They also stop Franz Ferdinand from going to Bosnia on that day. How? By sending Hands to Europe as an operative. No, he’s not a badass secret agent, unfortunately; he just seduces some actress which somehow gets him into a party the archduke is also attending. Does Rummel not know that actors were not considered part of high society before Hollywood? In any case, Franz Ferdinand comes down with a serious but non-lethal illness, and so cannot go to Sarajevo. Was this the only thing our heavily shilled heroes could think of? We are told about all of this after the fact in one paragraph, which is a shame, because Dolphy, Hands and Sal almost never do anything in this whole book. And then their one accomplishment just gets glossed over because they are not speshul ™. Urgh.

John spends the twenty-eighth of June harassing news organizations, who keep assuring him that nothing is going on. Even though this could just mean that the war will happen a little later, our protagonists get drunk as skunks in their hotel room the next day. I’m surprised that they don’t receive a noise complaint from all their yelling.

We eventually passed out and woke up in the morning, huddled together, when the hotel maid opened the door, gaped at us, and slammed the door. It was cold on the rug. Joy wore only her Old Universe pink silk panties; I was clad only in my undershirt. The second time drunk for both of us. We were sick all that next day. (page 295)

Uhh, yeah.

So anyway, apparently the Austro-Hungarian Empire lasts at least another nine years, because that is when Franz Ferdinand finally visits Sarajevo. Now, if his plan for reforming the empire was put in place, that may not be so bad, but this is never specified.

It is recognized that war could still happen, so we are told that John and Joy help the democratic movements in Germany and Russia. But we are not shown. Rummel will spend whole chapters on assassination, and even more on John and Joy playing Will They Or Won’t They, but isn’t willing to even offer two paragraphs of nonviolent intervention.

Skip to 1917, and there is a riot as the German people remove the emperor from office. How does this happen without the war to make them desperate? Constitutional monarchy would probably be more logical at that point. But it doesn’t matter since Rummel can’t even make an uprising exciting. It’s over in one paragraph and that’s that; Germany is a democracy now. Where is Hitler in all this? You will see later.

But that was still in the future. Back in 1914, I had my own murder to commit. (page 296)

And with that not-so-subtle-at-all foreshadowing, the chapter ends.


1 page 291

2 Even though they had no trouble meeting with a Prime Minister of Japan.

3 My Sue-dometer hates me right now.

4 Yes, the Serbian goverment did not recognize the U.S. Bill of Rights, but one would think that John would.

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  1. swenson on 5 June 2013, 21:06 said:

    [drunken hotel room thing]

    So hot.

    At any rate, I feel my remarks are getting kinda samey at this point. Rummel thinks underlying sociopolitical problems can be fixed by removing a handful of people from power and making some nice speeches (or whatever), everyone else in the universe thinks Rummel’s an idiot, yadda yadda yadda.

    He seems to be confusing immediate causes with underlying ones. The assassination of Ferdinand wasn’t really the cause of World War I, it was just the spark that touched off the enormous pile of gunpowder that had been building for years. Almost anything else could’ve done the same thing, it just happened to be that particular thing. Preventing that alone really wouldn’t solve much.

    I can’t remember if it was mentioned, but did they even try to diffuse tensions between France and Germany (from the Franco-Prussian War), patch up Austria and Serbia’s relationship, dismantle the complex alliances that dragged everyone else into what should have been a small regional war, etc.? Those were the real problems.

  2. Brendan Rizzo on 5 June 2013, 21:27 said:

    If they were mentioned, it was in a single sentence.

  3. Apep on 5 June 2013, 22:12 said:

    Well, they somehow managed to undo about 40+ years of Anglo-German tensions, but that seems to be it.*

    And, yeah, this shows some remarkable research fail on Rummel’s part. At best, the “heroes” have only managed to postpone the war, because most of the actual causes for the war haven’t gone away. France is still sore about the Franco-Prussian War, Serbia is still pushing for more territory, and Russia is still an absolutist monarchy, for god alone knows what reason.**

    Also, the “Black Hand” organization’s real name was “Unification or Death”. Doesn’t exactly scram “taken down with no real effort,” does it?

    *Note – the only reason the UK got involved in the war in the first place was because Germany decided to march through Belgium, which was supposed to have guaranteed neutrality. So even if they were on better terms with Germany, they’d still join in with France.

    **Fun fact – if Rummel really wanted to turn Russia into something resembling a western style democracy, this would have required WWI. For a very, very brief period in 1917, Russia was a republic, with power split between the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet.

  4. Lone Wolf on 6 June 2013, 04:32 said:

    For a very, very brief period in 1917, Russia was a republic, with power split between the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet.

    mind you, that Western-style democracy quickly collapsed, partially as a result of its unwillingness to end the war. The whole power split was a sign of its weakness in the first place.

  5. Epke on 6 June 2013, 08:06 said:

    John is brazen enough to actually show him a photo of the child in question. Now, for all we know Bethmann-Hollweg could have had a child resulting from a one-night stand, but there is absolutely no evidence of this.

    Not to mention that in those days, all you had was the word of the midwife (if there was one) and/or nurse who was there to fill in papers. Some random woman claiming that her child’s father is the Chancellor probably wouldn’t be taken too seriously… so where is the proof, John and Joy?

    This gets him arrested, and somehow gets the Black Hand shut down. But I thought they just said that this wouldn’t work.

    What. Having him killed would certainly add revenge to the Hand’s agenda and an arrest would give them hope of liberating him, not make them crawl into foetal position and cry about it >:| Make sense, damnit!