As we move into 2014, there is one topic that is bound to overshadow all others in print, online and on the airwaves and that will be the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Here at About Manchester Towers we are still thinking about what to do, or even what not to do,both from a Manchester and from a general angle, but it happened not to escape our notice that amongst the many books already out on the subject, is one entitled Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives.

Written by Richard Ned Lebow, it is one of those classic what it’s of history which in this scenario assumes that a thin and sickly youngster by the name of Princip failed to shoot the heir to the Hapsburg throne and his wife and thus the calamitous events of the summer of 1914 failed to materialise.

With a major war avoided in 1914, by 1917 says the author, it would have been impossible according to the author with the Germans now faced with a fully mobilised and modern army on its eastern flank and unable to deliver a knockout blow in the West.

So no Russian revolution, no Hitler, holocaust or Second World War, no Stalin or Chairman Mao.Europe remains the economic and military powerhouse, there is no revolution in social attitudes and a century of peace would have delayed war-related inventions like radar, penicillin, nuclear energy, long-distance air travel, computers and the list goes on.

Instead He illustrates them with “what-if” biographies of politicians, scientists, religious leaders, artists, painters, and writers, sports figures, and celebrities, including scenarios where: there is no Israel, neither John Kennedy nor Barack Obama become president, many Black jazz musicians leave for Europe in an increasingly racist US, where jazz blends with klezmer.Meanwhile nuclear research is internationalized and all major countries sign a treaty outlawing the development of atomic weapons, whilst Britain and Germany are entrapped in a Cold War that threatens to go nuclear.



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