Thursday 24 October 2013

There's a lot of good books to choose from ….

An interesting article here in The Guardian online, posting what the author DJ Taylor posts as his top-ten counter-factual novels of all time.

With only ten, you've got to make choices, and some of them I agree with - Robert Harris' Fatherland is excellent, read it years ago; CJ Sansom's Dominion is pretty good, and I read it earlier this year. Both, of course, about an alternative fictional world in which the Nazis in Germany are triumphant, or near enough, in World War Two.

There are, shall we say, obvious omissions in my opinion!


  1. “Historians often wonder what might have happened if James Callaghan had decided to call an election in the autumn of 1978”
    so says D.J.Taylor..
    No need to wonder about the what if situation here. Almost every one, myself included, who experienced that time when Jim Callaghan’s Labour government ruled supported by the Lib-Lab pact( David Steel was too naive and deluded) knew that Labour would lose if an election was called at anytime in 1978. This Jim Callaghan himself was aware, and hence was very stubborn in prolonging those last days of his long political career as much as possible. Thus, there was no chance of him calling an election in the autumn of 1978.. He and his cabinet mates were singularly complacent about the unions power exemplified by union barons wielding their block votes. He, his party, and supporters like Bragg miscalculated the mood of voters and they mistakenly reasoned that Thatcher's policies were too repulsive for voters. That was gross misreading by a political party and its supporters. When that happens, the political party in question is destined for near oblivion.

    As for the Dominion, the appeasement would have taken place much before 1952, as Winston Churchill would not have given up after Dunkirk. When Hitler attacked Poland in 1939, if Chamberlain had not resigned, and had Churchill not opposed his appeasement, it would have left Hitler free to attack and annex countries in mainland Europe, and having achieved it, he would have had no inclination to turn towards Britain. His animosity towards Britain was fueled particularly by Britain’s strong opposition to what he stood for, and even a reluctant appeasement by the latter would have dampened his animosity.

  2. The notion of Britain as a Dominion of a German is a cracking one. With Germany, which never had too many colonial possessions, sharing with Japan the British Empire and Dominions.

    Sadly, in alternate histories, (and lets not forget Star Trek's City on the Edge of Forever, which also implies an isolationist USA abandoning Europe to the Nazis) the wartime contribution of the Soviet Union tends to get neglected. Probably because they are written for a largely American/British audience.

    Instead, well how things have changed. To call present day Britain the 51st state really isn't on -- if it was Britain would have a written constitution and the right to vote in the American elections. Ironically it was a German writer, Hans Magnus Enzensberger who got it right recently, commenting on Britain's complicity in the NSA internet surveillance, Britain has become a US colony.

  3. Actually, I'm minded to have a crack at an alternate history myself. One where Britain fails in the Falklands or the war never took place.

    Perhaps Britain never got that airborne refuelling help from the USA and couldn't get it's reserve Harriers down there. Or, through diplomacy, the Falklands invasion never actually took place. Mrs T never got to go to war so she never got her Churchillian moment. Instead her popularity continued to decline through 1982 and the Tories dumped her the following year and brought in John Major. Then, they hung on as long as possible before losing massively to a Labour party lead by Tony Benn.

    Tony Blair, who Mrs Thatcher claimed was her greatest triumph, never happened.