Friday, July 30, 2010

And that's the way it wasn't.

Just finished reading a neat little book called Almost America: From the Colonists to Clinton: a "What If" History of the U.S.

It's a collection of various events in American history with short vignettes on what might have happened if they'd gone the other way. What made it most interesting was the author's choice of potential turning points. In addition to the obvious stuff like "What if Wilson had kept the Zimmerman Telegram a secret and actually managed to broker a peace treaty instead of getting the US into the Great War?" and "What if Lee had accepted the offer to command the Union army?" there are a whole bunch of chapters that are off the well-trampled counterfactual path, such as "What if Theodore Roosevelt had seriously pursued putting an end to college football?" and "What if the Twelfth Amendment had never been passed?" (Of special interest to the author, as he's also written a history of the vice presidency called Bland Ambition.)


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