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Sunday, August 1, 2010

What If?: The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been

What if...it were ALL written by top quality writers?

The premise of this book is explained by the title. The "What ifs...?" range in time from the failed Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C. to an extremely tense period in the Cold War in November of 1983. There are 40 different scenarios in all. For me, the most interesting were the scenarios concerning the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs and the American Revolution. Each of these had multiple "What ifs...?" and I am now convinced that 2 of the luckiest men in all of history were Hernan Cortes and George Washington. They both could have failed in so many ways (13 are identified for Washington) and yet they persevered and had military success.

An unintended "What if?" is the reader's inevitable comparison of these historian's writing styles. More than once I thought to myself, "What if this story was written by a better writer?" However, most were very good, especially the ones written by well-known historians Stephen Ambrose and James M. McPherson.


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