I’ve been checking out the “what if” material that’s come out in recent years in counterfactual analysis of history.
I must admit to really enjoying it, especially with bright A level students who are just getting into the first flush of academic reasoning.
I wonder if there’s another book here. We were talking about the knock-on effect of many of the events of Georgian England and began to compile a list of “what ifs” that derive from the period 1759-1816. Of course, the American revolutionary war has been treated to this kind of analysis, but the field is hardly well-ploughed.
Think of the events of 1759 (recalling that wonderful book 1759: The Year Britain became Masters of the World and how contingent upon individual whim so many of those circumstances were.
Think of George III’s medical treatment….. or say Grenville allowing Corsica to become French. What if it hadn’t? What would have happened to Napoleon a few years later?
It makes you relaise that the tiny choices that we make become tiny cracks that one day become grand canyons.
And of course, supplying plot lines for Back to the Future.
On e day I’ll get Niall Ferguson to write it.