What If...? Vol. 3: The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been (What If...(Simon & Schuster Audio))

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9780671047689: What If...? Vol. 3: The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been (What If...(Simon & Schuster Audio))
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Historians and inquisitive laymen alike love to ponder the dramatic what-ifs of history. In these never-before-published essays, some of the keenest minds of our time ask the big, tantalizing questions: Where might we be if history had not unfolded the way it did? Why, how, and when was our fortune made real? The answers are surprising, sometimes frightening, and always entertaining.

This provocative collection of essays features today's foremost historians speculating on these "what ifs", providing a fascinating new perspective on history's most pivotal events. The essays include:

* Infectious Alternatives: The Plague that Saved Jerusalem
by William H. McNeil

* No Glory That Was Greece: The Persians Win at Salamis
by Victor Davis Hanson

* Conquest Denied: Alexander the Great's Premature Death
by Josiah Ober

* Furor Teutonicus: The Teutoburg
by Lewis Lapham

* The Dark Ages Made Lighter: The Consequences of Two Defeats
by Barry S. Strauss

* The Death that Saved Europe: The Mongols Turn Back
by Cecilia Holland

* If Only It Had Not Been Such a Wet Summer
by Theodore K. Rabb

* The Immolation of Hernán Cortés
by Ross Hassig

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Review:

Counterfactuals--what-if scenarios--fueled countless bull sessions in smoke-filled dorm rooms in the 1960s. What if Sitting Bull had had a machine gun at Little Big Horn? What if Attila the Hun had had a time machine? What if Columbus had landed in India after all? Some of those dorm-room speculators grew up to be historians, and their generation (along with a few younger and older scholars) makes a strong showing in this anthology of essays, in which the what-ifs are substantially more plausible. What if Hitler had not attacked Russia when he did? He might have moved into the Middle East and secured the oil supplies the Third Reich so badly needed, helping it retain its power in Europe. What if D-Day had been a failure? The Soviet Union might have controlled all of Europe. What if Sennacherib had pressed the siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C.? Then the nascent, monotheistic Jewish religion might never have taken hold among the people of Judah--and the daughter religions of Christianity and Islam would never have been born.

So suggest some of the many first-rate contributors to this collection, which grew from a special issue of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. One of them is classicist Josiah Ober, who suggests that if Alexander the Great had died at the age of 21 instead of 32, Greece would have been swallowed up by Persia and Rome, and the modern Western world would have a much different sensibility--and probably little idea of democratic government. Still other contributors are Stephen E. Ambrose, Caleb Carr, John Keegan, David McCullough, and James McPherson, who examine a range of scenarios populated by dozens of historical figures, including Sir Walter Raleigh, Chiang Kai-shek, Robert E. Lee, Benito Mussolini, and Themistocles. The result is a fascinating exercise in historical speculation, one that emphasizes the importance of accident and of roads not taken in the evolution of human societies across time. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Robert Cowley is the founding editor of the award-winning MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, whose tenth-anniversary issue inspired this audiobook. He has held several senior positions in book and magazine publishing, and lives in New York City and Connecticut.

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