Today I self-published a new what if? novel on Amazon called 'The Three Eagles'. I have long wondered why, having won the 1916 election on the slogan 'he kept us out of the war', Woodrow Wilson decided to enter the First World War in April 1917. It was 23 months after the RMS 'Lusitania' with 128 US citizens on board had been sunk by a German submarine and it is clear that, despite the popular view, it had minimal impact on US foreign policy.
Wilson decided to go to war despite him proposing peace terms to both sides of the conflict. He seems to have been put out by the fact that both the Allies and the Central Powers, made no genuine proposals and simply put forward their list of objectives. Two factors, however, meant that the USA entered the war on the side of the Allies, though it largely kept its armed forces separate and did not become a formal ally of Britain or France. The first was the resumption of German U-boat attacks on neutral shipping, notably US ships. The Germans had curtailed this on two previous occasions following requests from President Wilson but at the start of 1917 reneged on this. The second was the Zimmermann Telegram sent to the German ambassador in Mexico to encourage the country to attack the USA. Wilson was always more concerned with Mexico than Germany and US marines had occupied locations in Mexico in 1914 and he sent the so-called Punitive Expedition in 1916 commanded by Brigadier General Pershing to try to catch Pancho Villa, a revolutionary whose men had been responsible for raids into the USA. The Expedition achieved little and Pershing was sent to Europe to command US troops dispatched to France, the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).
One important fact to remember is that in 1917, the US Army was very weak; smaller than that of Serbia. Many troops had equipment and uniforms left over from the American Civil War which had finished in 1865; on reaching France they were largely kitted out by the French Army. As the AEF received their own portion of the Western Front they were kept apart from the seasoned British, French, Belgian and Portuguese troops, so they had to learn from scratch. Consequently US casualties were seven times higher than other units fighting on the Western Front. Involvement in the war even for such a short time, meant the USA paid a heavy price. However, the presence of US troops and the food and war materiel that accompanied them, gave heart to the Allies, particularly the French. US troops were particularly important in defending Paris in May 1918 when the German Kaiserschlacht Offensive almost went further than German troops did in 1914 when they almost won as it was. With no US troops in France in 1917-18, it is likely that the French and probably the British troops too, would have suffered widespread mutinies and the German Army would have reached Paris in May 1918. They had already beaten Russia into surrender in March 1918.
Thus, this book works from the basis that the Germans avoided upsetting Wilson for a third time and he was left to carry out further action in Mexico, where just as on the Western Front in our world, the ill-equipped small US forces struggled against battle-hardened Mexican troops and the various revolutionary armies. Meanwhile with the Germans having won a last gasp victory in Europe, they have not gained all that the nationalists fantasised about, but have been able to secure the worldwide empire that the Kaiser had dreamt of.
This is the counter-factual background, which, as with all my writing, has been carefully researched. As with my other what if? books and stories, however, it is the impact on characters that interests me rather than labouring through details of battles. This book is in three sections, the first features a National Guardsmen sent to occupy a Mexican oilfield in 1917; the second sees a US spy investigating a new German submarine base on the Gulf coast of Mexico in 1920 and the third is set in 1923 covering a pilot sent to root out one of the remaining revolutionaries operating in northern Mexico. If you enjoy a alternate history setting as the background for adventure stories, then I trust this novel will appeal to you.