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What Ifs? of American History : Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have… (2003)

av Robert Cowley (Redaktör)

Andra författare: Antony Beevor (Bidragsgivare), Caleb Carr (Bidragsgivare), Robert Dallek (Bidragsgivare), George Feifer (Bidragsgivare), Thomas J. Fleming (Bidragsgivare)13 till, Victor Davis Hanson (Bidragsgivare), Cecelia Holland (Bidragsgivare), John Lukacs (Bidragsgivare), Lawrence Malkin (Bidragsgivare), David McCollough (Bidragsgivare), James M. McPherson (Bidragsgivare), Ted Morgan (Bidragsgivare), Robert L. O'Connell (Bidragsgivare), Theodore K. Rabb (Bidragsgivare), Andrew Roberts (Bidragsgivare), John F. Stacks (Bidragsgivare), Tom Wicker (Bidragsgivare), Jay Winik (Bidragsgivare)

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: What if (4)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
452643,128 (3.32)11
In this new collection of never-before-published essays, our brightest historians speculate about some of America's more intriguing crossroads.

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» Se även 11 omnämnanden

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A third and final collection of erudite essays on historical might-have-beens, edited by Robert Cowley. Aside from two pieces reproduced from the first What If? book ('What the Fog Wrought' and 'If the Lost Order Hadn't Been Lost', which are both excellent), these are all new essays, and whether they explore underappreciated moments in American history ('His Accidency' John Tyler, for example, or the Northwest Conspiracy) or more bread-and-butter speculations that nevertheless remain fresh (what if no Pearl Harbor, or Dallas 1963, or Watergate?), they are all fascinating to read. After three books, I am still charmed and completely unfatigued by the studious-yet-racy style of many of the essays, and it is a shame that there has not been a fourth collection ('what if no 9/11?', for example) when the writing and the concept are both so consistently strong.

Focusing solely on the United States, this third book lacks some of the richness and variety of the two eon-spanning volumes that preceded it, but the short history of the American republic has been one so eventful that there is still much fruitful what-if territory to be explored in this bounteous land of opportunity. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Mar 22, 2019 |
A fairly adequate compilation of essays of alternate possibilities (or as some might cal them "what ifs") within the realm of the United States (and things pertaining to said government/geography). I read the two previous What If? essay anthologies, and found them a bit more interesting. While this one was good, I feel the last several essays definitely trailed off (the post-WWII years on essays). I think my only true complaint about the actual book was that in some cases it was a bit difficult to see where exactly they were veering off into uncharted (what if) territory, and where it strayed from fact to fiction. (No clean break in paragraphs, no "hey this is not really what happened from here on out", and even in some cases doing it mid-paragraph with no explanation, so it takes you about two-three paragraphs or even a page or two to realize "wait a second..... we never nuked Russia....." and your brain catches up and realizes where they veered off the real timeline. ( )
1 rösta BenKline | May 14, 2017 |
Professional historians (of which I'm one), will start telling stories about the past at the drop of a hat. That tendency is on full display in the "What If?" series, where essay after essay spends 80-90% of its length on what *actually* happened, leaving the counter-factual scenario as a brief afterthought. This third volume in the series is no exception: Roughly 2/3 of the essays are more about what was than what might have been.

The real events are often excitingly told (David McCullough in fine form, narrating Washington's desperate nighttime escape after the Battle of Long Island), little known (guerrilla warfare after Appomatox), or unexpectedly significant (the debate over VP John Tyler's right to ascend to the presidency after William Henry Harrison died in office). Fans of alternate history may, however, find themselves wishing that the authors had saved it for a book of straight historical essays, and gotten on with the good bits. I'm with them.

The two best pieces in the book are (no surprise) written from viewpoints within their counter-factual worlds: One on the Anglo-American War of 1895 and one on the nuclear war that resulted from the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. They're well worth the time of even a casual alternate history fan . . . or anyone interested in war and diplomacy in the 20th century. ( )
1 rösta ABVR | Nov 4, 2008 |
only a couple of good essays and as stated tends to be focused on local American history ( )
  ablueidol | Jan 2, 2008 |

I'd read the two previous volumes in this series, which are more global and less American in scope; loved the first one, less impressed by the second. This one concentrates on US history, and is generally pretty good - the one real dud is an essay on "What if Pearl Harbour hadn't happened?" which concludes that nothing would have been very different except that the Pacific War would have been six months late. The other Second World War essay is a bit more exciting but also concludes that it wouldn't have made much difference if Eisenhower had gone for Berlin.

There are no less than four essays on the Civil War, one of which is James McPherson's reprint from the first volume on "What if the South had won?", but the other three taking interesting tacks: one (by the dubious Victor Davis Hanson) credits Lew Wallace's personal disgrace at the battle of Shiloh with his later creation of the popular epic novel in Ben-Hur; one looking at the potential for insurrection against the Lincoln administration in what we now call the Mid-West, and one speculating (a bit chaotically) about the possibilities for continued insurgency in the context of Andrew Johnson as well as Abraham Lincoln being assassinated.

Two of the pieces are written from the counterfactual perspective first used, I think, by Winston Churchill in his 1931 essay "If Lee had not Won the Battle of Gettysburg". The one on how the Cuban missile crisis turned into a global nuclear war is rather conventional stuff; but Andrew Roberts' piece explaining the origins and course of the 1896 war between the USA and Britain is the pick of the book for me, although I don't quite agree on the likelihood of the US being given Quebec in a peace settlement; much more likely what happened in the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War, both sides being returned to the status quo ante.

The other piece that particularly caught my eye was on John Tyler, the first Vice-President to succeed to the Presidency after the death of his running-mate. Tom Wicker points out that Tyler's accession was far from assured by a strict reading of the constitution, and that the policies he pursued in office, in particular on the annexation of Texas, were crucial in their importance to the future of the country and not likely to have been pursued as successfully by any other potential president of the day. Tyler is much more interesting than I had realised, and the story has an exploding cannon as well, which in February 1844 killed numerous senior officials, one of whose grieving daughters found comfort in the arms of the recently widowed President Tyler, who married her four months later. (One of their grandsons is still alive.)

Anyway, a good collection for the history buff. ( )
3 rösta nwhyte | Jul 15, 2007 |
Visa 1-5 av 6 (nästa | visa alla)
This volume is a companion piece to What If? and More What If?.

This book concentrates mainly on the history of the US. So we have:-
The Mayflower landing in Virginia instead of Massachusetts and so less religious influence on the US.
Pitt the Elder avoiding the American Revolution.
George Washington being trapped by British troops in Brooklyn before the War of Independence gets fully into stride.
No incorporation of Texas into the Union - and no Vice Presidents automatically succeeding on a President’s death.
No loss of Lee’s cigar-wrapped orders before Antietam and hence a Union defeat in the Civil War.
No (possibly unjust) blaming of a certain Civil War Union general for a near catastrophe. (That circumstance eventually gave us Ben-Hur and all the cultural efflorescences that followed from it.)
A second secession (of Mid-West States) during the Civil War.
Andrew Johnson being assassinated along with Lincoln.
A class war in the 1870s.
A US-Britain war in 1896 (over a border dispute in South America!)
FDR delaying the Pacific War.
Eisenhower taking Berlin before Zhukov and Konev get there.
Joe McCarthy as a Soviet agent. (Not too big a leap for the imagination if you apply the old saying “cui bono” to that Senator’s activities.)
A thawing of the Cold War because Gary Powers’s U-2 mission is cancelled.
The Cuban missile crisis is not resolved safely.
An unassassinated JFK reconciling with Cuba (and resisting embroilment in Vietnam.)
Watergate as only a minor scandal.

All fascinating stuff – if perhaps sometimes the historians assume nothing too much would change thereby.
tillagd av jackdeighton | ändraA Son Of The Rock, Jack Deghton

» Lägg till fler författare (1 möjlig)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Cowley, RobertRedaktörprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Beevor, AntonyBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Carr, CalebBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Dallek, RobertBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Feifer, GeorgeBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Fleming, Thomas J.Bidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Hanson, Victor DavisBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Holland, CeceliaBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Lukacs, JohnBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Malkin, LawrenceBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
McCollough, DavidBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
McPherson, James M.Bidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Morgan, TedBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
O'Connell, Robert L.Bidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Rabb, Theodore K.Bidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Roberts, AndrewBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Stacks, John F.Bidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Wicker, TomBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Winik, JayBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Ho, AndreaOmslagsformgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Holmberg, DanCover photographermedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
McMillian, MichelleFormgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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America is the subject of this third volume in the What If? series.
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In this new collection of never-before-published essays, our brightest historians speculate about some of America's more intriguing crossroads.

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