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9780330487252

More What If?: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been?

Cowley, Robert Author

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9780330487252: More What If?: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been?

'Marvellously entertaining as well as thought-provoking - the finest intellectual parlour-game around.' - Noel Malcolm, "Sunday Telegraph". "More What If?", the sequel to the acclaimed "What If?" examines history's most fascinating what-might have-beens. More of the world's leading historians, including Geoffrey Parker, Theodore K Rabb, Cecilia Holland and Caleb Carr postulate on what might so easily have been. Concentrating on the crucial and the seemingly insignificant, "What If? 2" is an entertaining and brilliantly provocative look at the way our world could easily have been. What if William hadn't conquered? What if the enigma code remained uncracked? And would this even matter if Lord Halifax had become Prime Minister rather than Churchill? This selection of alternative history is both provocative and stimulating and gives us a valuable insight into the way things could so easily have been. Praise for the "What If?" series include: "Anyone interested in...History in general will find it fascinating to read" - "Spectator". "Pure, almost illicit pleasure" - Andrew Roberts, "Sunday Telegraph". "A top-class bed-side read" - "Financial Times".

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Review:

Many armchair historians have spent hours daydreaming of what might have been if some turning point in history had gone another way. The appeal of the What If? books is that editor Robert Cowley gets professional historians to concentrate on these imaginative questions. The first volume focused entirely on military matters; What If? 2 leans heavily but not exclusively in that direction. Victor Davis Hanson wonders about the consequences for Western philosophy if Socrates had died in battle, Thomas Fleming ponders a Napoleonic invasion of North America, and Caleb Carr argues the Second World War lasted longer than it should have because George Patton's superiors restrained their energetic general. More than two dozen contributors offer bold speculation: If the Chinese had committed themselves to ocean exploration, asks Theodore F. Cook Jr., might they have discovered the New World and even prevented "the worst horrors of the Atlantic Slave Trade [by halting] Portuguese expansion along the African coast at this early date?" Other times they are pleasantly modest: In one of the book's best sections, John Lukacs describes the fantasy of Teddy Roosevelt defeating Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 election--and decides the long- term effects would not have been great. Like its predecessor, What If? 2 is delicious mind candy for readers willing to believe there's nothing inevitable about what has come before us. --John Miller

About the Author:

Robert Cowley is the Editor-in-Chief of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History - the best popular history magazine in the United States. The authors are some of the best known British and American historians writing today.

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Cowley, Robert Author
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