What If?: The World's Foremost Historians Imagine What Might Have Been

What If?: The World's Foremost Historians Imagine What Might Have Been


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What If?: The World's Foremost Historians Imagine What Might Have Been by Robert Cowley

With its in-depth reflections on the monumental events of the past, this amazing book of essays ponders what might have been if things had gone differently in history. Featuring Stephen J. Ambrose, John Keegan, and many others.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425176429
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/2000
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 318,088
Product dimensions: 5.88(w) x 8.94(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert Cowley is the founding editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, which was nominated for a National Magazine Award for General Excellence. Cowley has held several senior positions in book and magazine publishing.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Introduction by Robert Cowley

Infectious Alternatives - William H. McNeil
The Plague that Saved Jerusalem, 701 B.C.
A Good Night's Sleep Can Do Wonders - Barbara N. Porter

No Glory That Was Greece - Victor Davis Hanson
The Persians Win at Salamis, 480 B.C.

Conquest Denied - Josiah Ober
The Premature Death of Alexander the Great

Furor Teutonicus - The Teutoburg
Forest, A.D. 9 - Lewis H. Lapham

The Dark Ages Made Lighter - Barry S. Strauss
The Consequences of Two Defeats

The Death That Saved Europe - Cecelia Holland
The Mongols Turn Back, 1242

If Only It Had Not Been Such a Wet Summer - Theodore K. Rabb
The Critical Decade of the 1520s
If the Holy League Hadn't Dithered - Peter Pierson

The Immolation of Hernán Cortés - Ross Hassig
Tenochtitlán, June 30, 1521

The Repulse of the English Fireships - Geoffrey Parker
The Spanish Armada Triumphs, August 8, 1588

Unlikely Victory - Thomas Fleming
Thirteen Ways the Americans Could Have Lost the Revolution
George Washington's Gamble - Ira D. Gruber

What the Fog Wrought - David McCullough
The Revolution's Dunkirk, August 29, 1776

Ruler of the World - Alistair Horne
Napoleon's Missed Opportunities
Napoleon Wins at Waterloo - Caleb Carr

If the Lost Order Hadn't Been Lost - James M. McPherson
Robert E. Lee Humbles the Union, 1862

A Confederate Cannae and Other Scenarios - Stephen W. Sears
How the Civil War Might Have Turned Out Differently
Vietnam in America, 1865 - Tom Wicker

The What Ifs of 1914 - Robert Cowley
The World War That Should Have Never Been
Bismarck's Empire: Stillborn - James Chace
Thanks, But No Cigar - David Clay Large
The Armistice of Desperation - Dennis E. Showalter

How Hitler Could Have Won the War - John Keegan
The Drive for the Middle East, 1941
What a Taxi Driver Wrought - Williamson Murray
Triumph of the Dictators - David Fromkin

Our Midway Disaster - Theodore F. Cook, Jr.
Japan Springs a Trap, June 4, 1942
The Case of the Missing Carriers - Elihu Rose

D Day Fails - Stephen A. Ambrose
Atomic Alternatives in Europe
The Soviet Invasion of Japan - Robert Cowley

Funeral in Berlin - David Clay Large
The Cold War Turns Hot

China Without Tears - Arthur Waldron
If Chiang Kai-shek Hadn't Gambled in 1946
A Quagmire Avoided? - Ted Morgan
The End - Robert L. O'Connell

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What If?: The World's Foremost Historians Imagine What Might Have Been 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended for history lovers with imagination
Guest More than 1 year ago
No matter how this book is written, just the idea alone is interesting enough to read. That is exactly what I found. While some of the What Ifs were pretty far fetched, they were still incredibly compelling. If what the authors said really happened, we would find ourselves in a much different world. They paint a pretty compelling picture throughout the pages. For any history buff I would highly reccommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While some of the authors present some pretty big 'What ifs', they will certianly stimulate a history buff's imagination. The only issue I had with this book are the authors of the articles themselves. While no one doubts they are extremely intelligent, a few of them seem to enjoy going off on a tangent as if to prove to the rest of us how smart they are. It might be a good idea for anyone interested in reading this to get some backround information about the events mentioned in order to have a better understanding of the 'What ifs' presented in this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I saw the title for this book, I must admit that I was pretty sceptical of the thesis of the book. 'What if' scenarios infinitely abound throughout history, but even the most unlikely of situations can and does occur in reality. The problem with hypothetical scenarios is that they are often analyzed in a rather unrealistic context. In reality, if an unexpected defeat or victory does occur it only rarely decisively concludes a war. Most of the time the opponents refuse to admit defeat and continue their struggle despite the likely ultimate outcome. Still, I thought that many of the scenarios, especially the ones on WWI, WWII, and the Cold War, were expertly written and devastatingly realistic. Each of the 20 scenarios is written by a noted historian who examines the most significant hypothetical scenario during the era he or she covers. Starting off with a successful Assyrian siege of Jerusalem scenario, the book ends with a capitalist mainland China absorbing an impoverished Communist Manchuria. But the meat of the book examines the struggles of the traditionally Western powers. Two scenarios covering the American Revolution really highlight exactly how truly fortunate the US was ever to come into existence. Washington, Cortes, and Nimitz might have been resolutely determined, but they were also incredibly fortunate to win against massive odds. To give you an idea of the quality of writing for this book, one needs only look to the list of its contributors - Keegan, Ambrose, Horne, McCullough and many more historians are included. Overall, the writing style was great, but of course with so many contributors the quality of analysis varied writer by writer. My favorite scenario, though, was the Cold War's 'Funeral in Berlin' by David Clay Large who illustrated just how fatally close the superpowers came to a violent - and most probably nuclear - confrontation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
WHAT IF? ESSAYES by: Stephen E. Ambtose, John Keegan, David McCullough, James M. McPherson and Others PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster REVIEWED BY: Barbara Rhoades BOOK REVIEW: What If? is a fascinating trip into historical events. The various authors discuss the chance of weather conditions, timing, leadership, and political concerns have affected the outcome of Western Civilization. The authors give sufficient details of the back round and circumstances surrounding these events to better illustrated why people made the decisions they did. They exam the possible consequences IF events had turned out a different way. Two of the examples that were discussed were the Battle of Solomus and The Battle for Jerusalem. The authors gave the required background information relating to the subject matter and if the circumstances would have been different, the way modern Western Europe would have had a more Eastern thought process and development. There would have possibility not been a monolith God-type religion centered on Jewish beliefs. This book would be a must read for anyone who enjoys a good story, is interested in history, and has ever wondered why certain events turned out as they did today. The book would have been easier to manipulate if each CD had an end marker.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The authors present a case for different outcomes at historical events. It does make the reader wonder how history would have turned out, had the oucomes been different. HOWEVER, the authors also assume that if the events had different outcomes, that life would have carried on in that one happy direction forever, and our world today would be a direct result of that outcome. No revolutions, nothing. Additionally, at times, the authors seamed to have (at times) a distinctive anti-Western slant on things, in that the actual outcomes made the world a worse place. Finally, in one of the earlier chapters, the author appeared to be really trying to prove that he/she used their word of the month calendar to it's fullest. Words NOBODY uses were commonplace. Was worth the read, but borders on science fiction and parallel universe kind-of stuff. Not highly recommended, and will not read the 2nd book.
antiquary on LibraryThing 7 days ago
Less satisfying than other exercises in this genre, notably the original If, or History Rewritten.
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True turning points in history, re-imagined. Only feasible possibilities are discussed by real historians. Learned a lot and can't wait to buy the 2nd book.
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