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Robert Cowley - Historians Imagine What Might Have Been
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Robert Cowley - Historians Imagine What Might Have Been

Counterfactuals, considerations of alternate outcomes, make up one of the main provinces of military history. This volume incorporates two dozen essays and a dozen sidebars on what might have happened by writers of diverse specialties, including generalist Lewis Lapham, novelist Cecelia Holland and historians John Keegan, David McCullough and Stephen Ambrose. Readers willing to be open-minded can consider Europe's fate had the Mongols continued their 13th-century course of conquest. They can speculate on the death in battle of Hernan Cortes and the consequences of an Aztec Empire surviving to present times. Thanks to James McPherson, they can read of a battle of Gettysburg fought in 1862 (instead of 1863) and resulting in a Confederate victory, or the consequences of a Confederate defeat at Chancellorsville courtesy of Steven Sears. Ambrose suggests that Allied defeat on D-Day would have meant nuclear devastation for Germany in the summer of 1945. Arthur Waldron presents a China, and a world, that might have been far different had Chiang Kai-shek not taken the risk of invading Manchuria in 1946. Consistently well drawn, these scenarios open intellectual as well as imaginative doors for anyone willing to walk through them.

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