cover image 1901


Robert Conroy. Presidio Press, $21.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-89141-537-4

This cleverly conceived alternative history proposes that Kaiser Wilhelm II launches an invasion of the U.S in 1901 after President McKinley summarily rejects a demand that he surrender Cuba and the Philippines to the Germans. The long bloody struggle which follows after the enemy establishes a beachhead on Long Island and captures New York City precipitates depths of destruction never visited by a foreign power upon American soil. The German Command believes that the mere fact of the attack will be sufficient to make the Americans sue for peace and turn over the territories. They are dreadfully wrong, of course, and, after a stress-induced heart attack kills McKinley, the new president, Theodore Roosevelt, begins to put together a fighting force to oppose the supposedly unbeatable German war machine. Numerous historical figures are involved in the story, and Conroy, a college teacher and student of military history, depicts them clearly, if a bit broadly. Much of the action is seen through the eyes of a fictional officer, Major Patrick Mahan, who rises through the ranks to become brigadier general, and, in the ultimate confrontation, commands Mahan's Bastard Brigade (so named because of its regiments of German-American and African American troops). With much more emphasis on plot than on character, Conroy tells a solid what-if historical. (Apr.)