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KLIATTThis somewhat unusual approach to the study of history is informative, interesting, and even entertaining. Cowley has invited 17 eminent historians to speculate on how history might have been changed if certain events or conditions had not occurred or had occurred differently. A caution—the readability level generally falls into the college range and the essays have a scholarly tone. These features will not deter the serious older YA history buff. Each article stands alone and ranges in length from 10 to 20 pages. The author describes the situation or event as it happened, and then he speculates on what might have happened if conditions had been altered. Finally, he discusses any long-range results that have occurred. Weather and illness (physical and mental) sometimes affected the course of American history. Four essays deal with events in the Civil War. Someone's smoking habits and carelessness may have changed the course of the war. A breakdown in communications prior to the Battle of Shiloh indirectly led to the writing of Ben Hur. Three articles focus on the breakup of the Union, including the possibility of a new country in the Midwest. Finally, the essays move into the 20th century and deal with WW II, the Cold War, and John F. Kennedy. The editor has selected well. The essays might serve as teaching tools in critical reading and creative writing endeavors. The topics are infinite. Good if matched with the right student. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2003, Penguin, Berkley, 298p. illus. maps., Ages 17 to adult.
—Prof. John E. Boyd