Book Reviews, History

Then Everything Changed

Alternate history is one of those things I have loved for a long time. It started with Guns of the South, a work by Harry Turtledove that asked what would happen if the Confederacy acquired automatic weapons. (You’ll have to read it to find out how.)

Rarely do I pass up an alternate history book, but they are seldom as good as they could be. When I saw Then Everything Changed by Jeff Greenfield. After a lifetime of covering the American political arena, Greenfield sat down to question how America might be different today if three significant events had been altered. He asks what might have happened if 1) John F. Kennedy were killed in 1961, 2) Robert Kennedy were not killed during his 1968 campaign, and 3) Gerald Ford had won the 1976 election.

I won’t get into all of the details, but I felt that Greenfield’s perspective was not quite as comprehensive as it should have been. He certainly knows more about the era than I do, but I felt that he underplayed some things like the Youth Movements of 1968 and Gerald Ford’s capacity for mediocrity.

What I did gain from this book was the cast of secondary people that he brought to light. While I know the names of people like Robert Macnamara, I did not know that he was a Republican. It was also interesting to see how Ronald Reagan played into all three scenarios.

All in all, I wouldn’t have paid for the book, but as a "bathroom read" it was adequate.


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