1920: America's Great War (BAEN)
by Robert Conroy
Cover Artist: Kurt Miller
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476780443
Date: 24 March 2015
List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Wikipedia Entry / Show Official Info /
NOTE: This review previously ran in our December 2013 issue.
In a world where Germany won WWI quickly, the Kaiser wants to expand his empire. He sets his sights on the West Coast of America. Woodrow Wilson has won another term even as his health deteriorates. He wants peace to continue, but there are ominous signs of a German buildup in Mexico. The time seems ripe for the Germans to continue their success.
Luke Martel has been tracking German activity in Mexico. He sees the buildups and movements and knows that something is going on. His narrow escape, allows him to pass his news up the chain. His knowledge will see him across the country. He returns to a California under siege. Although able, his background holds him back.
The Germans and the Mexicans form a two-pronged attack on the U.S. The Germans invade California and the Mexicans hit Texas. The U.S. is in no position to fight in multiple locations especially with the well planned sabotage of German infiltrators. The forces in California are led by General Liggett. With his trusted Lieutenants, he works to delay the German invasion until relief and supplies can make it from the east.
General Jack Pershing is asked to push the Mexican invasion back out. But the country isn't ready. The weapons and ammunition are not available. Neither are the men. As the buildup begins, a new threat arises that could spell the end of the U.S., influenza.
Josh Cornell is an ensign in the U.S. Navy. He has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is lucky to survive his first encounter with the German Fleet. His actions bring him opportunity if he is willing to face the risks.
Kirsten Biel lives near the Mexican Border. She sees firsthand the invasion and cruelty of the Germans. She doesn't want to leave her land, but fate has chosen another path for her. One that will bring her pain and joy.
The story unfolds through the eyes of these characters and many others including some of the Germans and Mexicans. There are many characters that were famous in our timeline based on their actions in WWI and WWII. Several of the characters are wholly fictional.
It has been a while since I have read anything by Robert Conroy. 1920: America's Great War makes me want to go back and read the ones I've missed. Conroy's greatest strength is that he doesn't feel the need to focus on the standard divergence points or the common alternate history tropes. In this timeline the French Army fails to hold the German Army, and the Great War ends early before devolving into trench warfare. This leads to seemingly odd situations. In this world lancers and cavalry are still common. The technological changes brought by trench warfare come later.
Fans of Harry Turtledove, John Birmingham, and S.M. Stirling will find a lot to enjoy in Conroy's works. Conroy focuses on the wars that might have been, many that you have never considered. He mixes historical figures and fictional characters seamlessly. I have found myself expecting to find historical notes on some of the people he made up.
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