Other Pasts, Different Presents, Alternative Futures

Paperback | August 3, 2015

byJeremy M. Black

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What if there had been no World War I or no Russian Revolution? What if Napoleon had won at Waterloo in 1815, or if Martin Luther had not nailed his complaints to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517, or if the South had won the American Civil War? The questioning of apparent certainties or "known knowns" can be fascinating and, indeed, "What if?" books are very popular. However, this speculative approach, known as counterfactualism, has had limited impact in academic histories, historiography, and the teaching of historical methods. In this book, Jeremy Black offers a short guide to the subject, one that is designed to argue its value as a tool for public and academe alike. Black focuses on the role of counterfactualism in demonstrating the part of contingency, and thus human agency, in history, and the salutary critique the approach offers to determinist accounts of past, present, and future.

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What if there had been no World War I or no Russian Revolution? What if Napoleon had won at Waterloo in 1815, or if Martin Luther had not nailed his complaints to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517, or if the South had won the American Civil War? The questioning of apparent certainties or "known knowns" can be fascinating and, indee...

Jeremy Black is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He is author of many books including War and Technology (IUP, 2013), Fighting for America: The Struggle for Mastery in North America, 1519-1871 (IUP, 2011), and War and the Cultural Turn. Black is a recipient of the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize of the Society for Military ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:254 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:August 3, 2015Publisher:Indiana University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0253017041

ISBN - 13:9780253017048

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
1. Introduction
2. A Personal Note on Life and Times
3. Types of History
4. Power and the Struggle for Imperial Mastery
5. The West and the Rest
6. Britain and France, 1688-1815
7. Counterfactualism in Military History
8. Into the Future
9. Skepticism and the Historian
10. Conclusions
11. Postscript
Selected Further Reading
Index

Editorial Reviews

"A sparkling defense of the legitimacy and utility of counterfactual history-of what ifs-and the best single work on its subject available." -Weekly Standard