East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Fighting the Kaiser in the American South-West

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Alternate history.
I like that a lot – you get the best of both worlds, a solid historical background, and a fun science fiction/fantasy/what if angle and plot.
I did write a few alternate histories in my time, and of course Hope & Glory is a huge alternate history universe.
So yes, I like that.

And while I don’t read that much alternate history anymore, I am in the habit of keeping a few books as an emergency stash for bad moments, and one, in one of my surprise book boxes, happened to be an alternate history book.
And I’m having a go at it.

1920: America’s Great War is a novel by Robert Conroy, published by Baen Books in 2013.

The premise: the Germans win the Battle of the Marne in 1914 and basically cripple French and British forces, putting a sudden end to the Great War. They become the only European superpower (Russia was also hit hard and fast), and in 1920 the Kaiser turns his eyes to the US of A.
German troops are amassed in Mexico, and then strike towards California and Texas.
War begins.

As it usually happens in these stories, we get a good mix of real characters (young army officers Patton and Eisenhower, among others) and of fictional characters. The premise is nicely explained, and if the early chapters are a bit hasty and information-heavy, then the action picks up speed and all in all the book is turning out to be a nice way to relax after a day spent writing.
It is interesting how the defusing of the Great War is shown to have slowed down some technologies – planes are scarce, and there’s no tanks to be seen, among other things.

As a European, a lot of the minutiae of the US political system and of American history that are co-opted by the author to build a sense of realism are a little over my head, but the novel does a good job of introducing the reader to the necessary know-how.
Admittedly, the book is in the end about cool battle-ready, gun-toting yanks kicking German ass and facing a war on their own home turf with bravery and skill, and it would probably make for a great movie with John Wayne.
But it’s all right.
A little star-spangled bravado once in a while is OK.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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