What If?

Printed: 2000

Publisher: Macmillan. London

Dimensions 16 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 16 x 24 x 4

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Item information


In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

Anyone interested in military history or indeed history in general will find it fascinating to read.’ Spectator. What If? is a collection of counterfactual essays dealing with military events. Concentrating on some of the most intriguing military history turning points of the last 3,000 years, twenty celebrated historians, including Alistair Horne and John Keegan, have come together to produce a group of essays that enhance our current understanding of decisive events. ‘Pure, almost illicit pleasure. What makes these essays tremendously diverting is how little they strain one’s sense of credibility.’ Andrew Roberts, Sunday Telegraph. ‘These informed, elegant essays authoritively analyse incidents over the past 3,000 years.’ The Times. ‘One of the delights of the book is that broad speculative analysis is built from a mass of exciting detail. This makes for a top-class bed-side read.’ Financial Times

Review: well, i just think this is a superbly interesting book, perfect for dipping in to and re-visiting. If more people were to read this sort of book on trains etc. it would represent a considerable intellectual advance over puzzles and glossly magazines. its NOT a university text book, and to criticise it from that point of view is to mis-understand the aim of the book. Also, to complain that the consequences of various alternatives are not fully fleshed out is a dire mistake. The book allows a lot of room for the reader to fill in the blanks- for instance, the wonderfully written little segment on the mongols and the death of Ogadai that saved Europe perfectly explains how our continent could have been culturally decimated without trying to piant that particular picture in full. Another interesting element to that particular story is the destruction of the Caliph of Baghdad by the Mongols. The supreme head of Islam was put in a sack and “trampled to paste” by wild horses. the caliphate has never been restored…how would christians have coped had the pope suffered the same fate? Anyway, questions like that are left to your imagination, which is a pleasant and pleasing thing to get from a book.

The last few chapters are slightly below power, and the over-emphasis on America is slightly grating. But the book clearly believes that the various cultural traits of people can be traced back to historical events- for instance, Russian xenophobia comes from the attacks of the Mongols centuries ago, whilst German aggression is put down to that nation never having experienced Roman rule etc etc. its a highly debatable thought, but to go with it a minute only a young, historically naive nation like America would have the temerity to revise history and re-present it in such an interesting fashion.

Robert Cowley is the founding editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History – the award-winning magazine in the United States. He has worked in book and magazine publishing, and lives in New York City.

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