If I Had Been ...: Ten Historical Fantasies

If I Had Been ...: Ten Historical Fantasies

If I Had Been ...: Ten Historical Fantasies

If I Had Been ...: Ten Historical Fantasies

Excerpt

Speculating about the 'ifs' of history has always been an attractive pastime. Who knows what might have happened if, say, Ferdinand and Isabella had not married or if Guy Fawkes had not been discovered! How different would the world have been if Winston Churchill had been killed when he was knocked down by a car in New York in December 1932 or if Giuseppe Zangara had succeeded in his attempt to assassinate President- elect Franklin D. Roosevelt a few weeks later? Suppose that Hitler or Stalin had died in their twenties or that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs had failed to go off . . . Fascinating speculations, but these are not so much the 'ifs' of history as its whims; there are no rules as to the degree of 'iffiness' permitted and the results can be as wildly fanciful as the mood dictates.

The contributors to this volume, however, are all professional purveyors not of speculative fiction but of historical fact. In writing their chapters they were asked to evoke a strictly authentic historical setting and to recreate as accurately as possible the situation facing the personality around whom their essay revolved. There was to be no deus ex machina, no invented . . .

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