The Historian’s Favorite Question — What If?

What if the Confederate army had moved on Washington, DC after their victory at the first battle of Bull Run?

I could give many examples of how history turned on a snap decision, a quirk, a timely death, a misunderstanding,  or just dumb luck.  One of my favorite history books is appropriately entitled What If? (Berkley Books, 1999).  It’s a collection of essays by eminent historians about how history might have turned out differently.  For example, Thomas Fleming writes about 13 ways the colonists could have lost the American Revolution.

I may be the last to know this, but but I’ve just found an alternate history channel on YouTube.  It’s called the Alternate History Hub (  If you have the time, you can watch some thought-provoking videos.

Alternate history is a fascinating intellectual exercise, and could be a treasure trove of ideas for historical fiction.  I’d be tempted if I had another lifetime.

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