Cover of the first edition
|Genre||Alternate history novel|
|Published||1995 (Lyford Books)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
1901 is an alternate history novel by Michigan economics professor Robert Conroy. It was first published in hardcover by Lyford Books in June 1995; a Science Fiction Book Club edition followed in August of the same year, and a paperback edition from Presidio Press in 2004. The novel depicts a fictitious German invasion of the United States in the year 1901, shortly after William McKinley begins his second term as President. The book's plot is based on an actual diplomatic crisis that nearly sent the United States and the German Empire to war in the early part of the 20th century.
In 1901, the United States is still basking in its recent victory in the Spanish War of 1898, but the American army is small, its only large forces occupying the newly-won possessions of the Philippines and Cuba. Germany, under Kaiser Wilhelm II, attempts to purchase the U.S. acquisitions to compete with the British Empire; rebuffed, the Germans land troops on the southern shore of Long Island, taking Brooklyn. Manhattan quickly falls, and German forces cross into Connecticut.
President McKinley, overwhelmed, dies from a heart attack, making Vice President Theodore Roosevelt the new president. Roosevelt begins to retrieve the situation, recalling several generals and giving their command to former comrades from Cuba, including Generals Leonard Wood, John Pershing and Frederick Funston. But the first major battle against the Germans is lost, and the scattered American fleet is also unable to respond. The British quietly furnish the poorly equipped United States with modern firearms and ammunition.
Americans slowly recover from the initial shock. At sea, the USS Alabama encounters and sinks three German cruisers bombarding Jacksonville, Florida. Meanwhile, in Connecticut, an American brigade led by Funston ambushes a German patrol and inflicts heavy casualties. These victories lift American morale, but the war is soon stalemated.
The Germans create a defensive perimeter between the Hudson and Housatonic Rivers and fortify central New York. General Nelson Miles attacks the German positions along the Housatonic in the fashion of the American Civil War, but is defeated.
Roosevelt decides that the U.S. must become a full-fledged military power if victory is to be achieved. He replaces Miles with former Confederate General James Longstreet and calls General Arthur MacArthur from the Philippines to take command of the U.S. Army in the field. Meanwhile, Native American scouts and other operatives disrupt German lines. At sea, the navy launches surprise attacks against German convoys in the English Channel and closer to the American coast sinks empty transports returning to Germany. Though the stalemate continues, the attacks hurt German morale.
Then Navy torpedo boats and the submarine Holland disable three enemy vessels, reducing its fleet from sixteen to thirteen available battleships, and the German supply line is nearly cut. The German high command sends a massive convoy across the Atlantic with both reinforcements and supplies, hoping to trap the American fleet. The German plan fails, and the convoy is destroyed.
The German army prepares for a massive ground offensive, hoping to break the American line and turn the American right flank. After a massive artillery barrage, the Germans drive the Americans back and tear a large gap through the American line, forcing the U.S. troops to fall back. Then a force of four brigades appears, driving in the Germans' exposed flank and capturing the high command. News of the naval and military defeats reaches Germany, and a revolt breaks that overthrows the Kaiser. The new German government sues for peace, ending the war.