Just over 200 pages, the book manages to cram in a lot of character development, develops believable relationships between characters, and paints a vivid picture of the setting.
|Map of Texas in a world-that-wasn't, circa 1999|
This book isn't lighthearted, but there is definitely an undercurrent of hope running through it. Still, there are downbeat elements; I was struck by the account of a joint US/Russian Mars mission. WWIII broke out while the mission was underway, and the crew lost contact with Earth. They continued the mission, landed on Mars - the first humans to do so - and returned to find the Earth embroiled in the aftermath of Armageddon. The somber account of their experiences is moving and succinctly told, adding to the atmosphere evoked by the book.
The cover image is misleading, by the way. There is no attack as depicted, though there is an encounter with Native Americans that gives an interesting glimpse into how their various cultures have been impacted by the global war and collapse.
This is a remarkable book. For how slender it is, it contains a lot of content. The setting is rich with possibility, and given the number of alternate history books out now, it could have served for a whole series of books. As it is, this book is an example of just how good science fiction of the 1970s could be.