The Week In Books, No. 49A – Counterfactual History Overload

This week I read two books from the What If? series, edited by Robert Cowley. What If?
and What Ifs? Of American History
are both books of essays by eminent historians speculating on how history might have been different if tiny details had gone differently. What if the bullet had gone an inch to the left? What if the fog had lifted an hour earlier? What if he hadn’t skipped breakfast? What if the note hadn’t gotten lost? What if he hadn’t caught the flu? It was fascinating to learn how many pivotal moments in history really turned on such small dimes. Because the essays were written by scholars, the arguments are plausible, and the speculations on how things might have unfolded differently is reasonable based on the evidence. I especially enjoyed the section on the Cuban Missile Crisis in the American History volume, because I studied that episode closely in a college class and thought the essay in the What If book was especially well reasoned.
The historians and editor seem to conclude that because history could so easily have been different, we should appreciate how even one person can really make a difference. I agree, but I also concluded that God’s hand of Providence in history is really amazing.

If you enjoy history, you would likely enjoy these books, but I will warn you that many of the essays are pretty heavy on military history, and some of the battle analysis was a little more depth than I really needed. Then again, as Leon Trotsky said (and was quoted in the book), “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” I will leave you to ponder that deep thought from Trotsky, and will recommend these books.

Also Completed:
Genesis, Exodus, Luke, Philippians

Currently Reading:
Leviticus, Psalms, John, Colossians
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte (to Hannah, and I REALLY want to finish it by the end of the month!)
“Nefertiti” by Michelle Moran
“Teach Yourself New Testament Greek” by Ian MacNair (I am slowing down on this due to busyness, but will keep at it)

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