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1901 Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Conroy reconstructs history, imagining a German invasion of the U.S. in 1901 to enforce German claims to the colonies the U.S. took over in the Spanish-American War. The novel is clearly a labor of love. Conroy seems to have conceived the story out of a lifetime's dedication to military history, and he puts into it a host of apparently favorite ideas and historic characters. The writing doesn't attain the level of Conroy's aspirations but keeps us turning pages, anyway. Conroy focuses on his central character, Patrick Mahan, as he rises from captain to major general, but fills out the book with many engaging side characters, including African American officers and Theodore Roosevelt, as well as with the pleasant fancy of having erstwhile Confederate General Longstreet appointed commanding general of the U.S. Army (Longstreet actually did return to U.S. service, but as a diplomat, and lived until 1904). The yarn is likely to please both military history and alternative history buffs. Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press (December 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891418431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891418436
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My next novel, "1882-Custer in Chains," will be published in May, 2015. I had hoped for sooner, but it's the publisher's decision. In my tale, Custer not only survives the fight at the Little Big Horn in 1876, but becomes a war hero and then President of the United States. Urged on by his ambitious wife Libbie, he gets us into a war with Spain with the conquest or liberation of Cuba as its goal. The result is a bloody invasion and a series of battles on both land and sea in which the outcome is never a sure thing. As always, there are a number of historical characters as well as fictional ones. Since 1882 was only seventeen years after the end of the Civil War, memories of that bloody conflict are always present.

As I've written before, I want my alternate histories to be plausible; ergo, no time travel or magic. Now, could Custer have survived? Absolutely yes. He had two Gatling guns that he felt would have slowed him down; therefore, he left them behind. What if some energetic young officer had defied him and brought them just in time to save Custer and what remained of his force from annihilation? Victory for Custer, of course and that is the take off point for 1882-Custer in Chains.

Following on the heels of "Liberty-1784" and "1820-America's Great War," Custer will be my twelfth published novel and it's still a thrill. I wonder what the nuns at now closed St. Ambrose High School would have thought.

Why not check out my website at or email me at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Michael H lewis on June 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an "Alternate History" story based on factual plans of the German Army to invade the US that were never used. Believablity is added to the story by the fact that the US Atlantic Squadron conducted manuvers in the Caribbean and South Atlantic each summer while the rest of the navy showed the flag around the world.
The story is told through several characters including Teddy Roosevelt. I found some of the characters to be lacking but others were well done, I especially like the German soldiers and the German politican Holstein. However, Conroy overuses the ploy of putting old conferate generals back into uniform to "whip them damn-yankee Germans".
There is a great deal of military information but unfortunetly much of it is wrong. The Germans are in Feldgrau when in fact it was not adopted by the German army until 1910. The US soldiers are in blue despite the US Army having issued khaki field uniforms since 1898. Conroy also has the US soldiers armed with single shot "Trapdoor" rifles despite the magazine-fed Krag Rifle having been first issued in 1895. By 1901 the Krag equiped the US Regular Army and many National Guard regiments.
Conroy's information on the US Navy is very good but he has the German navy about twice it actual size for 1901. In the book it is claimed to be second only to the British when it was smaller than the French and Russian fleets and equal to the US Navy. Per the 1905 Jane's Fighting Ships in mid-1901 the US Navy had 9 battleships, 2 armored crusiers, 6 large monitors, 6 protected crusiers (armored decks but no side armor) and a number of light crusiers and gunboats. The German's had 9 battleships, one armored crusier. 8 coast defence ships and 6 protected crusiers with many smaller ships.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Ian Fowler on January 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"1901", Robert Conroy's first (and, so far, only) novel, is a suprisingly well written, well thought-out work. It isn't a masterpiece by any means, but it is a very good and entertaining alternate history that deals with a very original divergence point. In 1901 Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, desiring a colonial empire to rival England and France, and angered by the USA's refusal to sell their newly acquired colonies from Spain, launches an invasion at New York. As the United States has almost little or no standing army in the country, and Germany has the largest and best army in the world, it becomes clear that the United States may very well lose this war.
Conroy does pretty well with his divergence. It's plausible, which is the golden rule of alternate history. Conroy makes the reader believe that there could have been German troops wandering around Brooklyn and Manhattan, and portrays convincingly a U.S. government, led by Theodore Roosevelt, desperately trying to fight off these very aggressive, very professional invaders. Conroy is also particularly effective in evoking images underlining the brutallity of war. Men are mowed down, heads explode, bodies break, soldiers scream, and cities burn. Essentially, Conroy creates a microcosm of the First World War on American soil.
Conroy also gives a pretty wide set of view-points. He criss-crosses from New York, to Washington D.C., to Berlin, and back again. His protagonist, Patrick Mahan, is thrust into an overwhelming situation, leading a rag-tag brigade of German- and African-American troops, while finding true love. Ludwig Weber wonders why he has come from Germany to this strange country in the service of a ruler he believes insane.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael Huggins on October 9, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
My thanks to Peter Hobson for pointing out that I wrongly said "Juggernaut" for "Dreadnought." As he rightly suspects, all reviews can be at risk for errors, including his own. The author of "Dreadnought" is Robert (not Richard) K. Massie.

I was looking forward to reading Conroy's book. I bought it after reading Massie's book, about the British and German naval buildups leading to the First World War, and Hannah Pakula's, "An Uncommon Woman," about Empress Vicky, the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm. Some years ago, I had read "The Kaiser and His Court," a memoir by one of the Kaiser's admirals. Although the Victorian era is not my chief interest, I spent two years giving guided tours in a Victorian mansion and learned more about the customs of that day.

Conroy has obviously read "Dreadnought" as well, and including Count von Holstein as a sinister presence was an interesting touch. I enjoyed the battle scenes, and it was an interesting reversal to have Halsey die in the book's Battle of the Atlantic.

Having said all that, I had to struggle to finish the book because it was so irritating. Whatever Conroy has read about social customs and manners of that day, he has forgotten. This wouldn't matter so much if he stuck to writing about battles, but he insists on including a romance between an officer and an heiress. People like Conroy are a reason why snobs are snobs. The man is tone-deaf about the behavior of anyone who doesn't hang out at pool halls. If he wrote a story about the British Royal Family, he would have the Queen addressing her husband as "Phil."

Conroy's heiress receives a male caller unchaperoned and even lets him move in as a house guest.
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