Most of my formal higher education has been centered around the study of management and also accounting & statistics. So basically when I encounter a problem, the first thought is ‘What went wrong?’ – my accounting and statistical tendencies – and the second thought is ‘What can be done to fix it?’ – my management tendency .
Given the number of years I’ve been fixing problems, I can’t help applying this mindset to the study of military history, which is my true passion. I study a battle or campaign and I naturally start to think about what went wrong for the side that lost and what could have been done so they could have won.
I’m not sure when it came into my mind, but at some point I read that the continental United States had never been successfully invaded by a foreign enemy. The British tried it a couple of times during the War of 1812, the Germans tried to place a few terrorist agents in the United States during both World War I and World War II, and the Japanese tried to drop a couple of bombs on California from a submarine-launched floatplane during World War II, but none of them really succeeded.
I figured part of the reason was that the United States is so hard to get at. The Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian Mountains are on the east, the Gulf of Mexico is on the southeast, the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains are on the west, and Canada has almost always been our best friend to the north.
Ah, but the Southwest…there is Mexico who the United States has picked on and took land from for almost 200 years. We have a long and virtually open border with them. What if Mexico picked a time when we were busy somewhere else – like in Europe fighting World War I or World War II – to try to take some of that land back… particularly since they knew that land had a lot of oil underneath it?
My managerial mind went to work on the problem and the historical novel “Cable of Fate: The Zimmermann Affair and The Great Southwestern War of 1917” was born. I tried to outline just how Mexico could have carved a state out of the American Southwest, and maybe gotten away with it. I kinda let my imagination run wild, and boy, was it a lot of fun to write!
John’s post-publication note on “Cable of Fate.”
Cable of Fate brings to life a tale of adventure and intrigue, set in the catastrophe that was the world’s “Great War” of 1914-1918.
At the height of the war on the Western Front, Germany’s top leadership comes to the realization that they no longer possess the means to break the stalemate with Great Britain and France in the trenches of northern France. Casting about for a strategy that will change the deadly status quo that threatens to defeat Germany, the leadership seeks to open a new front in the Western Hemisphere that will divert the United States’ supplies and materiel which are fueling the Western Allies’ war effort. Germany attempts to engage Mexico (through the transmission of the infamous Zimmermann Telegram) to open a “second front” on America’s Southwestern border. Mexico’s compensation for providing this diversion will be the eventual awarding of the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to Mexico as a condition of the victorious Central Powers’ peace treaty at the conclusion of World War I.
In a twist of history, Mexico rationalizes that it has recently defeated America’s military “Punitive Expedition” of 1916 into Mexico’s northern states. If it has defeated a United States military campaign when America is at full strength, how much greater will be its chances for success if the U.S. Army is either in Europe or on the Atlantic Ocean moving towards Europe? Mexico’s leadership fatefully agrees to open the “second front” along the American Southwestern border.
Thus begins a tangled web of plans, stratagems, conspiracies, and treachery as Mexico pursues its campaign against the United States. Can the various bickering political factions in Mexico unite long enough to pursue a successful military campaign against the United States? Can America pull together enough military strength to successfully parry a Mexican thrust into its Southwestern frontier? What will be the political ramifications for either Mexico or the United States if they lose a deadly confrontation with their opponent?