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Between 1638 and 1640, when not distracted by fiscal crises and Scottish wars, Charles I turned his attention to a more congenial task: the plans for a new royal palace at Whitehall. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.5 étoiles sur 5  22 commentaires
100 internautes sur 115 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 What Is This Book Trying To Be? 18 janvier 2002
Par doomsdayer520 - Publié sur
Believe me, I really tried to appreciate this book as either a thought-provoking exploration of scenarios of alternate history, or as a solid study of the art of history itself. I was disappointed both ways. Strangely enough, this book is purported by the publisher and editor to be both of those things, but the results prove otherwise. This book is very unfocused and academically arrogant, and it barely even explores counterfactual history, except at an extremely basic and dry interpretation of the term. Note: This book is from England and is quite Anglo-centric, so a working knowledge of British history might be an asset before you begin (this is not a criticism, just a recommendation).
This book gets off to a horrendous start with Ferguson's 90-page introduction in which he attempts to explore the nuances and importance of counterfactual history. Instead he delivers an extremely tedious and repetitive treatise on the study of history itself, which has little to do with the supposed focus of the book. A large portion of this intro is dedicated to "determinism" vs. "predestination" in history, but this is historiography rather than an exploration of counterfactuals. This is also written in that dry and verbose academic style in which it is more important to endlessly pile on repetitive evidence in order to impress one's colleagues, than to actually enlighten the reader. Ferguson shows a sheer desperation to confound other historians who don't think highly of counterfactuals, and in the process forgets that he is writing a book for the public. He also complains about researchers in his field not being taken seriously, but then insults people in other fields who are interested in counterfactuals, such as sociologists and fiction writers.
After this tedious start, the book doesn't get much better, as various historians contribute chapters on key episodes in history. With only a few exceptions, each author commits the errors of the introduction by failing to explore counterfactuals, which is supposed to be the point, and merely shows off his own historical knowledge in tedious ways. One noteworthy exception is the essay on home rule in Northern Ireland. Otherwise, the pattern here is to spend 95% of the essay describing what really happened in a straight historical fashion, then briefly knock off a few possible alternative scenarios without really exploring them, as if the editor forced each author to do this. In the end, this book can't figure out what it wants to be, and you will be unable to figure out why you're reading it. Is it trying to comment on the study of history itself, or present straight history with an intellectual twist, or explore counterfactuals? It tries to do all of these, with disappointing levels of success, and is only unfocused as a result. If you decide to tackle this, good luck - you'll need it.
36 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Interesting intellectual exercise 24 novembre 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur
What if?
People have been speculating about the consequences of "the path not taken" for centuries, but alternative history -- that is, the consideration, serious or otherwise, of the paths that history would have taken if a single event had gone differently -- has only come into its own in the 20th century. Beginning in the 1930's, with the publication of Squire's _What If?_, there have been numerous publications related to alternative history. Numerous authors have published fiction based on alternative histories -- though most of them could have been better written, they are valuable contributions to the alternative history canon.
Recently, alternative history scenarios -- now known as counterfactuals -- have become intellectually respectable, as historians, social scientists, and economists have used them to analyze how our society developed. It is in this light that _Virtual History : Alternatives and Counterfactuals_ was written.
The various scenarios in the book are all interesting, and based in fact. Of particular interest are the scenarios detailing the effects of:
* the survival of the Stuart monarchy in the British Isles;
* the failure of the British to intervene on behalf of the French in the First World War, written by Ferguson;
* the fate of Britain, and of eastern Europe, in the event of Nazi victory in the Second World War;
* and, the evolution of the Soviet Union if Gorbachev and _perestroika_ hadn't intervened.
Finally, a composite history of the world including elements from all nine alternative histories proposed in this book is added on, again written by Ferguson.
On the whole, this book is an essential possession for anyone interested in the question of "What if?". My only problems with the book are the facts that Ferguson's composite alternative history evolves into a ridiculously unlikely parody of our history, and that parts of his introduction are overly pompous.
Still, this is an excellent book.
32 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Solid Historical Research 23 janvier 2001
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
Overall, I found "Virtual History" to be an excellent exploration of the value of counterfactuals in historical writing. There is no debating the quality of the writing in this book. From the rousing introduction, to the various essays, and the clever conclusion, the authors do a superb job of engaging the reader in their various areas of expertise. That said, the work overall is somewhat uneven.
I believe this stems from the fact that the various historians don't all share the same comfort level with projecting the consequences of their counterfactuals. Some barely scratch the surface of what might have been, while others go into extensive detail (in particular, "What if Hitler had Invaded England", my favorite). However, this complaint speaks more to the flow of the work overall, and not to the quality of each essay.
In conclusion, "Virtual History" is an outstanding work, that shows top notch research and excellent writing. My one caveat to the potential reader would be that this is not a particularly light, easy reading book. If you are looking for a somewhat less rigorous, less scholarly look at counterfactual history I would recommend "What If?" (Cowley ed.).
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent discussion of the value of and approach to counterfactuals 25 décembre 2007
Par David Ahlstrom - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Niall Ferguson has written several fine books that are must-reads for educated people. These include 'The Pity of War' (on WWI), 'The War of the World' (about the major conflicts in the 20th century including a stunning chapter on the 'armed slave labor camp' that was the Soviet Union), and this book -- Virtual History' on counterfactual or "what if" history. Some amazon reviewers have obviously completely misunderstood this book - it is designed to explore some counterfactual questions, but primarily it is intended to explain and defend the value of counterfactual history. Feguson makes perhaps the finest explanation and defense of counterfactual reasoning. This will obviously not make some people happy, as they would rather hear creative historical what ifs, ala Hollywood. But for historians and other social scientists who need to use counterfactual reasoning, this book is an outstanding resource. By all means read this book, and the other fine works of Niall Ferguson - one of the outstanding comparative historians of our day (or any day).
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Disappointing 2 mars 2012
Par N. Perz - Publié sur
What is the point of writing "alternative" history if you spend 90% of the time going over the "actual" history? I was pretty disappointed with most of the contributions to this collection. Just accept that "counter-factual history" is another version of "historical fiction" and run with it. This could have been a lot more interesting...

Not recommended.
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