cover image If the Allies Had Fallen: Sixty Alternate Scenarios of World War II

If the Allies Had Fallen: Sixty Alternate Scenarios of World War II

Edited by Dennis Showalter and Harold Deutsch, intro. by Bill Forstchen, Skyhorse, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61608-027-3

With its mercurial and deluded leaders, dramatic offensives, and technological leaps, the history of WWII is riddled with might-have-beens that are amply explored in this stimulating collection of scholarly essays. The authors, mainly academic historians including Carlo d'Este and David Glantz, ask the big questions, pondering the likely consequences if Britain had surrendered, Hitler had been killed by conspirators, the D-Day landings had failed, or the atom bomb not been dropped. But finer points of strategy (what if the Allies had invaded Sardinia instead of Sicily?) and weapons procurement (would more V2s and jet fighters have turned the tide for Germany?) also get considered attention. A few authors present clunky fictional narratives of the "Stalin nervously paced his apartment" variety, but most stick to sober analyses of the alternatives that leaders faced. From the welter of contingencies emerges an inevitable end that miracle weapons and brilliant generalship could not alter: once America entered the war, Germany and Japan's chances against a vastly stronger Allied coalition slipped from slim to none. These illuminating, well-written counterfactual essays do much to explain why. Maps. (Sept.)