virtual, counterfactual history
[alternate, counterfactual]
alternative history

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Counterfactual History

  Many writers, and some historians, have speculated over the momentous "What Ifs" of humanity's shared experience and have attempted to depict the resulting scenario if "this" had happened rather than "that" at key turning points of history. Such speculations have been described as alternate history, virtual history or counterfactual history.

  Writers of counterfactual history have variously produced novels, short stories, scholarly essays, comic books, movies, television shows and plays with such works usually being presented as deliberate fiction.
  Several such 'histories' have made it into the bestseller lists (e.g., Len Deighton's SS-GB) and have even been made into movies (Robert Harris's Fatherland).

  In more recent years, a spate of works has appeared in which serious, professional historians delve into alternate history. The preferred term used in scholarly circles for such virtual, rather than actual, unfoldings of events is - counterfactual history.

  Whilst some critics of this approach have dismissed it as being something of a "parlour game" it may be that we can learn valuable lessons from such a process. Certain events that actually occured may have only done so to some extent by chance and when we seek to explore what we think of as an alternative outcome we are actually attempting to explore an outcome that could possibly have happened.

  Favouritive subjects for counterfactual history conjecture include:-
"What if France retained Canada in 1763?"
In 1763 the Seven Years War came to an end and during the negotiations Britain could have opted to gain some Caribbean Islands, (then richly attractive due to the production of that scarce and valuable commodity - Cane Sugar), rather than the then undeveloped and unappreciated resources of Canada.
  If France controlled Canada after 1763 her presence as a powerful and potentially hostile neighbor might have inhibited the outbreak of the American War of Independence!!!

"What if the Confederacy won the Civil War?"
This alternative is also present as "What if the American Civil War had been avoided?"

"What if the Kaiser's Germany won World War I?"
This has several depictions - Britain need not have joined in the war in 1914 - the German High Command might not have alienated American opinion through a U-Boat campaign - and the presence of American forces proved decisive in 1918!!!

"What if President Kennedy had not been assassinated?"
What would have been the alternative American future Domestically? In relation to Communism and Vietnam?

  If you have the time to explore our pages you may find much in the way of historical and philosophical content that could intrigue you or interest you!!!




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