Skip to main content

What If?

July 2024
1min read

I read with interest and nostalgia the article “What If?” by Marcus Cunliffe in the December 1982 issue of the magazine. During my second year at the University of Virginia—in 1931–32—a special one-semester course entitled “Roman Archaeology” was offered, given by a visiting professor from Johns Hopkins. Several of us signed up—some no doubt because they saw an easy way to get three credits. After a few weeks about ten of us were still there—fascinated with the course. The night before the final exam, the good professor advised us that any sort of cramming would be useless and suggested we all take in a good movie.

How right he was! The exam consisted of one question: “If Carthage had won the Punic Wars instead of Rome, discuss the subsequent effect on the history of Europe and America. ” Wow! We all tore into that one—filling lots of exam books. Nobody flunked.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.