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Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals (1997)

de Niall Ferguson

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595729,292 (3.23)9
What if there had been no American War of Independence? What if Hitler had invaded Britain? What if Kennedy had lived? What if Russia had won the Cold War? Niall Ferguson, author of the highly acclaimed The Pity of War, leads the charge in this historically rigorous series of separate voyages into "imaginary time" and provides far-reaching answers to these intriguing questions.Ferguson's brilliant 90-page introduction doubles as a manifesto on the methodology of counter-factual history. His equally masterful afterword traces the likely historical ripples that would have proceeded from the maintenance of Stuart rule in England. This breathtaking narrative gives us a convincing, detailed "alternative history" of the West--from the accession of "James III" in 1701, to a Nazi-occupied England, to a U.S. Prime Minister Kennedy who lives to complete his term.… (més)
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Como novela de entretenimiento puede pasar. Luego están las opiniones de los diferentes «historiadores» según las apreciaciones de cada uno. Evidentemente, todos son parciales y cuentan sólo la parte que a ellos les va en el cuento, despreciando y no teniendo en cuenta lo que les conviene desechar. Que es precisamente lo que rigió en la mayoría de las ocasiones escogidas. Yo no soy muy amigo de la historia-ficción, a no ser que sea también en contextos de ciencia-ficción, con universos paralelos. Porque el objetivo de este tipo de especulaciones suele ser lamentar lo «bien» que habrían ido las cosas si no hubieran ido como fueron, lo cual a menudo se hace con objetivos más ideológicos que verdaderamente honestos para con el curso de los acontecimientos. ( )
  Eucalafio | Oct 27, 2020 |
I think the premise of this book was more interesting than the actual outcome. Although I enjoyed the introduction that went into the ideas about history and historical progress, I also felt that it dragged on a bit when I just wanted to get into the scenarios. But once I did, it was only the first three chapters that I actually enjoyed reading—the ones about the inevitability of English civil war, US independence and the chances of Irish Home Rule earlier than it happened, respectively—the later ones, for some reason or another, failed to interest me in the end. Taking less time to read this book might have helped, but I think my longest breaks were between chapters rather than within them. ( )
  mari_reads | Jul 21, 2018 |
No me gustó para nada. me pareció muy tirado de los pelos algunas conclusiones que pecan inclusive de algunos de los vicios que señala en el capitulo primero ( )
1 vota gneoflavio | Dec 31, 2016 |
Professional Academic Historians prefer to be taken seriously, and thus are very chary of actually exploring "What If" scenarios. Admittedly there is a steady market for Popularization of the "what if the South had won at Gettysburg," school. Mr. Ferguson is of the prim school generally, especially because he strongly favours economic history in his own writings. But even he gives way to speculation on occasion and this is it. "Caution!" , you're not going to find much about battles in this book. Worth the read, though. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 14, 2013 |
This is a controversial area of history, is it worthless speculation, since it never happened, or can these be informative thought experiments? It is up to Ferguson in the seminal introductory, and lengthy, opening essay to convince the reader that this is a worthwhile endeavor. He also closes out the volume tying together the disparate elements of the work.

There are several examples historically that make the thought experiments worthwhile to consider, did England need to go to war in World War I, what if Hitler invaded England, or what would have happened if JFK had lived. In the Kennedy piece, the author excoriates JFK and takes him to task for his weak stance on civil rights.

After a sound consideration of these essays a number of them go to the heart and are well worth considering.
1 vota gmicksmith | Feb 11, 2013 |
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Acted history...is an ever-living, ever-working Chaos of Being, wherein shape after shape bodies itself forth from innumerable elements. And this Chaos...is what the historian will depict, and scientifically gauge!
--Thomas Carlyle
There is no privileged past...There is an infinitude of Pasts, all equally valid...At each and every instant of Time, however brief you suppose it, the line of events forks like the stem of a tree putting forth twin branches.
--Andre Maurois
The enduring achievement of historical study is a historical sense - an intuitive understanding - of how things do not happen.
--Lewis namier
The historian must...constantly put himself at a point in the past at which the known factors will seem to permit different outcomes. If he speaks of Salamis, then it must be as if the Persians might still win; if he speaks of the coup de'etat of Brumaire, then it must remain to be seen if Bonaparte will be ignominiously repulsed.
-- Johan Huizinga
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What if there had been no English Civil War?
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What if there had been no American War of Independence? What if Hitler had invaded Britain? What if Kennedy had lived? What if Russia had won the Cold War? Niall Ferguson, author of the highly acclaimed The Pity of War, leads the charge in this historically rigorous series of separate voyages into "imaginary time" and provides far-reaching answers to these intriguing questions.Ferguson's brilliant 90-page introduction doubles as a manifesto on the methodology of counter-factual history. His equally masterful afterword traces the likely historical ripples that would have proceeded from the maintenance of Stuart rule in England. This breathtaking narrative gives us a convincing, detailed "alternative history" of the West--from the accession of "James III" in 1701, to a Nazi-occupied England, to a U.S. Prime Minister Kennedy who lives to complete his term.

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