Virtual History

Virtual History

Alternatives and Counterfactuals

Book - 1999
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Baker & Taylor
Speculates what may have happened if nine major events did not occur, asking such questions as, "What if there had been no American Revoultion?" and "What if John F. Kennedy had lived?"

Perseus Publishing
Speculative history at its best, in which a talented team of historians, led by Niall Ferguson, explore what might have happened if nine momentous events had turned out differently.

What if there had been no American War of Independence? What if Hitler had invaded Britain? What if Kennedy had lived? What if Russia had won the Cold War? Niall Ferguson, author of the highly acclaimed The Pity of War, leads the charge in this historically rigorous series of separate voyages into “imaginary time” and provides far-reaching answers to these intriguing questions.Ferguson’s brilliant 90-page introduction doubles as a manifesto on the methodology of counter-factual history. His equally masterful afterword traces the likely historical ripples that would have proceeded from the maintenance of Stuart rule in England. This breathtaking narrative gives us a convincing, detailed “alternative history” of the West—from the accession of “James III” in 1701, to a Nazi-occupied England, to a U.S. Prime Minister Kennedy who lives to complete his term.

Book News
Following an extensive introduction by Ferguson (history, Jesus College, Oxford) to the study of counterfactual history, he and eight other British and American scholars offer descriptions of the possibilities of history. Incorporating significant research to answer questions such as "What if there was no American Revolution?" and "What if Germany had invaded Britain in May 1940?," these historians explore what could have been, with interesting results. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, 1999, c1997
ISBN: 9780465023226
Characteristics: x, 548 p. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Ferguson, Niall


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LRS1969 Dec 29, 2015

VERY dry reading.

Also had very few examples of what likely could have happened in an alternative "what if" situation.

(Would spend pages and pages explaining how the "what if" could maybe have come about - and then very vague about what that likely or very potentially could have led to)

Plus detected a subtle anti American bias on occasion.

And definitely a pro British one.

Jul 17, 2008

Some interesting "what ifs" on key moments in history.


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