What If? : Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been, Paperback

What If? : Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been Paperback

3 out of 5 (4 ratings)


'Anyone interested in military history or indeed history in general will find it fascinating to read' - "Spectator". "What If?" is a collection of counterfactual essays dealing with military events.

Concentrating on some of the most intriguing military history turning points of the last 3,000 years, twenty celebrated historians, including Alistair Horne and John Keegan, have come together to produce a group of essays that enhance our current understanding of decisive events. 'Pure, almost illicit pleasure. What makes these essays tremendously diverting is how little they strain one's sense of credibility' - Andrew Roberts, "Sunday Telegraph". 'These informed, elegant essays authoritively analyse incidents over the past 3,000 years' - "The Times". 'One of the delights of the book is that broad speculative analysis is built from a mass of exciting detail.

This make for a top-class bed-side read' - "Financial Times".


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448 pages, 25 black & white illustrations
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9780330487245



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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

This book was not as good as I expected. The ancient history was pretty good, but the stuff on the American war of independence and the American civil war just seemed to go on and on. I would have liked to see more on World Wars I and II, and I think I would have expected more than a single chapter on Napoleon to deal with all the European wars between the 16th and 20th centuries. Basically this book is very USA-oriented, even in its treatment of World War II. The final chapter on China is interesting.

Review by

I liked this, but I did gradually grow weary of the American preoccupation. There are some fascinating concepts, but I think I would have liked a little more insight into how far things could have changed, instead of emphasis on the pivotal moments themselves.

Review by

My first read in what-if history this counterfactual military history presented makes me wonder if the hinges of history are all related to military decisions and incidences to military leaders...? Of the group of essays written by different historians one that I find striking is Cecilia Holland's Mongol conquest of Europe in the 1240's under general Sabotai. It was not so probably only due to the death of the khan Ogadai thousand of kilometer away: In Holland's words "a stroke of blind luck". Later in 1258 the Mongols would destroy Bagdad. The two essays on events in the USA civil war gave me too little introduction and context. The Battle of Midway is also treated. American cryptanalysis sometimes gets credits for the victory, but as the essay as well as John Keegan book 'Intelligence in War' explain the victory may come down to minutes of American luck.

Review by

Quite fascinating mainly, but you really have to be a history buff and own a great detailed background knowledge, since background info is rarely given.

Also by Robert Cowley