All this mayhem begins and ends with one Karakhan of Kazan, the son of a Cossack father and a Mongol woman, who rises to become a top military leader of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. When Stalin is mysteriously assassinated in 1932, in Karakhan's presence, he uses his military influence to take control of the country.
One of the first things Karakhan does as the new Soviet leader is marry and impregnate an American leftist radical from New York. You see, Karakhan has a thing for white women -- an ideological thing. He believes the answer to historical white hegemony is miscegenation, miscegenation, and more miscegenation. Or as Gibbons puts it in the first page of the book:
[Karakhan's] defiant pride in his coloured skin, struggling against an instinctive inferiority complex originating from impacts with white dominance, fired him with the ambition to fuse all races -- white, yellow, black, brown and red -- into one human race, the only one he acknowledged.
We're not talking about a subtle thread of un-PC racial content weaving through an obviously dated book. Miscegenation is Karakhan's raison d'etre, and it drives much of what follows, although the first description is about as deep as the analysis gets. Gibbons doesn't seem to be invoking race to grind his own ideological axe. Rather, a world of miscegenation is simply the scariest thing he can think of, and he assumes his readers do not require elaboration on its horrors.
For a modern reader, this focus in the opening pages can distract from the fact that what Gibbons is really interested in is geopolitics and warfare. Much of the book consists of detailed descriptions of the political and military maneuvering that brings Karakhan's "yellow horde" to the very shores of America. Every few pages, these ruminations are interrupted by paeans to the virtues of the white man's fighting spirit and the white woman's Nordic honor, but then it's back to business.
Karakhan sweeps through Europe, killing Mussolini and pre-empting Hitler. The fictional Winston Churchill -- who pre-dates the "never surrender" days -- abruptly resigns after an uprising of Reds and leftists call a general strike, setting the stage for a British surrender. He conquers Australia, where he asserts himself by massacring six million whites. (Wait, how many? As if this book wasn't creepy enough.)
In the United States, Gibbons installs as president Alfred E. Smith, who ran on the Democratic ticket in real life during the 1928 election, just before The Red Napoleon was published. Needless to say, Smith's liberal policies join forces with misguided pacifists and a Red fifth column to leave America weakened and vulnerable to the coming storm. But Gibbons gives Smith credit for eventually stepping up and making the tough calls when the Communist army arrives in America. (After all, he's still a white guy.)