Past Tense

THE BEST OF TODAY’S ALTERNATE HISTORY ISN’T LIKELY TO CHEER YOU UP. BUT IT CERTAINLY WON’T BORE YOU.

People have been writing alternate history since at least the early nineteenth century, but for most of that time it was a tiny subgenre of popular fiction. Now it’s being produced in industrial quantities. If you use Amazon.com to browse books by category, you will find more than twenty best-selling titles, and the best Web site on alternate history, Uchronia, lists thousands.Read more »

What If?

Conjectural or speculative history can be a silly game, as in “What if the Roman legions had machine guns?” But this historian argues that to enlarge our knowledge and understanding it sometimes makes very good sense to ask …

What if any of the pre-Civil War Presidents had gone mad?

What if Andrew Johnson had been successfully impeached?

What if William McKinley had not been assassinated?

What if there had been no tape-recording system in Nixon’s White House? Read more »