Recommended reading on alternate history

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
User avatar
Posts: 1415
Joined: 30 Mar 2008 14:46
Location: France, EUR

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by mescal » 19 Jun 2009 12:36

I'm surprised no one mentionned the "France Fights On" project here.

I just finished reading it, and it's amazing.
A very very worth read.

The English version is here, with 56 chapters from June 40 to April 42.
The French version has some more chapters up to Nov 1942.

Gilbert Avila
Posts: 3
Joined: 06 Jul 2009 08:22

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by Gilbert Avila » 06 Jul 2009 08:39

I would recommend Jo Walton's trilogy "Farthing," Ha'Penny," and "Half a Crown." It takes place in a world where Germany and Britain made peace in 1941, and spans the years from 1949 to 1960. They chronicle the events through the eyes of an English police detective (who's a closeted gay) as he sees Britain sliding into a racist, anti-semitic tyranny. I read them one after the other. Quite engrossing.

Gilbert Avila
Posts: 3
Joined: 06 Jul 2009 08:22

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by Gilbert Avila » 05 Oct 2009 02:57

A couple of other suggestions are two more by Harry Turtledove: Hitler's War, where WWII started in 1938, and The Man With The Iron Heart, where Reinhard Heydrich survived WWII and started an underground resistance movement in Germany.

Field Marshal Mung Beans
Posts: 32
Joined: 27 Mar 2011 02:35

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by Field Marshal Mung Beans » 27 Mar 2011 22:54

No online Alternate History? :(

Decades of Darkness ... php?t=8170 New England secedes from the USA after a nastier debate over the Embargo Act due to Jefferson's death in office.
Napoleon's Victory ... hp?t=90610
Manstein in Africa ... p?t=135445

By no means exhaustive and usually online TLs better deal with such things as the Butterfly effect.

Also For Want of a Nail is my favourite published AH, which deals with the Patriots losing the American Revolution and instead taking over Mexico.

Gilbert Avila
Posts: 3
Joined: 06 Jul 2009 08:22

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by Gilbert Avila » 01 Apr 2011 06:49

Harry Turtledove wrote a couple of books regarding the Japanese occupation of Hawaii:
1. Days of Infamy (2004)
2. End of the Beginning (2005)

Yeah, only two. Amazing for him. Another excellent novel is "MacArthur's War: by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson. The atom bomb has a catastrophic failure and as a result Japan has to be invaded. Very good book.

Posts: 851
Joined: 29 Apr 2010 16:03


Post by kenmac » 18 May 2011 13:06

Polynikes wrote:The Moscow Option by David Downing: ... 762&sr=1-1

Probably the best strategic AH books I've read.
Agree 100% here.

Posts: 35
Joined: 11 Jun 2011 20:19

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by Marsprojekt48 » 26 Jun 2011 22:00

Two more additions to this list by my erudite and eloquent friends:
(1) J.R.Dunn, "Days of Cain". One of the best books I've ever read. On the surface it's just about time travelers going back to retrieve a Sea Stallion helicopter abandoned at Desert One in 1980, upgunning it with weapons from the future, then taking it back to 1943 to rescue prisoners in Auschwitz. But it's so much more complex, multilayered and even spiritual in ways I can't even describe. For a brief review, see
(2) Stuart Slade, "The Big One". B-36 atom bombing of Germany in 1947. I hear we really did originally develop the B-29 and B-36 to reach Germany from CONUS in case Britain fell and we lost the use of English airfields.

Leutnant Von Historian
Posts: 48
Joined: 24 Oct 2014 12:54

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by Leutnant Von Historian » 06 Nov 2014 14:25

What about World War 2 Plans That Never Happen, by Michael Kerrigan. The book is about a list of plan that never happen regarding many countries( including non-participant).

User avatar
Posts: 1601
Joined: 01 Dec 2002 23:41
Location: Australia

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by wenty » 09 Nov 2014 01:09

Not specifically related to war as such, but I really enjoyed "11.22.63" by the master author, Stephen King - as you can probably guess from the title, it looks into what might have happened if Kennedy hadn't been assassinated. Really fascinating storyline from start to finish and not really something you'd expect from King. Has anyone else read it?


Posts: 441
Joined: 02 Sep 2011 06:56

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by Politician01 » 04 Dec 2014 17:21

I would highly reccomend:

Axis Power: Could Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan have won World War II? by Dr. William Roger Townshend Ph.D

User avatar
Posts: 2175
Joined: 03 Dec 2004 20:49
Location: Stockholm

Jim Bresnahan: Refighting the Pacific War

Post by fredleander » 21 Jul 2015 14:06

This is a book covering many possible counterfactual aspects of the war in the Pacific and it has an interesting introduction by Vice Admiral (Ret.) Yoji Koda of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Bresnahan’s method for the analysis of the subject is to break up the main events of the Pacific War in several sub-groups. Each is commented on by different specialists and authors on the subject – like: John Burton, Jon Parshall, Anthony F. Tully, Tim Jackson, William Bartsch, Michael Barnhart, Douglas V. Smith, H. P. Wilmott, Frank Shirer, Harold Goldberg, Jim Hallas, Keith Allen, Hal Friedman, C. Peter Chen, Douglas V. Smith, Lex McAuley, John Lundstrom, Frank Snyder, Ronald W. Russell, Peter C. Smith, Barett Tillman, Stephen D. Regan and some others. In my opinion they all make a good job of it except the last-mentioned – mainly because of his obvious ignorance of what actually took place in the first period on the Philippines. His slanted remarks on MacArthur are also rather distasteful.

Of course, not all of these persons remark on every subject but the book’s author – he calls himself editor – has made a nice balancing act of it. Interesting is it that on most of the subjects there are usually quite different opinions.

Before buying the book, I only just received it, I was a little afraid that this would just be a repetition of the firm convictions we often see, with the results given as a sort of Law of Nature. This is not so, the questions he ask the various contributors are quite detailed and give good opportunity for variations in their responses. Most of the questions start with a short introduction on the subject, and end with a similarly short summary. In all, it calls for a tight editing to keep it interesting.

For me, considering a recent book project of mine – working title "Saving MacArthur" – there was only one disappointment. The author has shied away from the BIG question. What if the US leadership had gone all out to reinforce, and hold on to, The Philippines? That said, one author writes in some detail on the confusion around the (lack of) dispatch of the US bombers on December 8th. I find his conclusion quite sound (as I am of the same opinion – for the same reasons) - that it would have made very little difference.

River Wide, Ocean Deep - a book about Operation Sealion:
Saving MacArthur - an eight-book series on the Pacific War: ... rw_dp_labf

Posts: 8
Joined: 03 Sep 2010 02:01

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by Monsoon » 03 Jan 2016 00:25 ... is+of+time

Axis of time Trilogy. A multinational fleet goes back to 1942. Hilarity ensues.

Seriously, I really enjoyed these books. A lot of interesting twists and turns about how things would be, like integrating future troops in with WW2 forces, etc.

Posts: 110
Joined: 17 Feb 2006 18:36
Location: Warsaw

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by Delwin » 18 Jan 2017 21:54

Are there any alternates dealing with Allies mistakes or changes in action? For example - France in 1940 does not fall for Mainstein plan?

User avatar
Posts: 471
Joined: 18 Feb 2013 00:23

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by sitalkes » 15 Jun 2017 06:23

Bolt Action Campaign: Sealion (miniatures Campaign rules published by Osprey) ... n-sea-lion

This is a book worth reading even if, like me, you don't play the Bolt Action game. It is written with humour and a lot of imagination, and is lavishly illustrated, with paintings from Osprey books and photographs of miniatures. However it follows the usual biased account of possible Sealion invasion. The Home Guard is allowed to use weapons that weren't issued until 1941 or 1942 but the Germans don't get the same benefit. The author states that the invasion was impossible due to the overwhelming superiority of the Royal Navy and includes a timeline for a September 1940 invasion that has the French fleet helping the German and Italian navies during the invasion. (the timeline is rubbish as it involves Petain forming government with the French communists). The British get 14" coastal guns but the Germans don't get the option to use any of the Channel Guns. There appears to be no provision for air attacks. The book seems intent on minimising the German threat, with the Panzer 1 being the most commonly shown German tank, even though few Panzer 1's would have been used in an invasion. Well I suppose there's nothing to stop players from altering the rules to fill in such gaps.

However there are some fun elements included that I have not seen anywhere else. The British player gets all sorts of Home Guard units, including the "Womens Federation Toxophilite Club Patrol" which is a fictional unit of women from an an archery club, armed with bows and arrows, which can be upgraded to anti-tank arrows with plastic explosive attached! The British player can also equip his troops with the Great Panjandrum, in honor of a Dad's Army episode (even though it's an anachronism). You can also use a Boy Scout Patrol. A more serious suggestion is the use of Royal Navy landing parties - troops formed from the ship crews. The German player gets gangs of criminals or BUF (British Union of Fascists) thugs/Action Groups and other Fifth Column elements. This is in addition to Brandenburger Commandos and the option to equip the paratroops with shaped charges to blow up fortifications.

It is as a campaign, though, that the book fails. The scenarios are quite imaginative and would be fun to play. However, only 14 out of 124 pages in the book are used to describe the ten scenarios. They are not linked except by counting total points scored at the end - in a real campaign, the results of one fight should affect the following ones. Al in all, though, the book is a fine effort and well worth getting. There are some factual errors but as it is a work of fiction they can be forgiven.

User avatar
Posts: 258
Joined: 14 Mar 2015 02:08
Location: Luxemburg

Re: Recommended reading on alternate history

Post by SpicyJuan » 24 Aug 2017 22:17

Just finished reading Hitler, the Victory That Nearly Was by the late wargamer Bruce Quarrie. Very good read on a Germany which decides to capture Malta and secure the Mediterranean in 1941, delaying Barbarossa by a year. What makes the scenario interesting is that Quarrie doesn't flood northern Africa with countless unsuppliable Panzer divisions, rather merely adds the 7th Panzer div. to the Afrika Korps. The German's proceed to capture Egypt and the Middle East, and launch Barbarossa in 1942. Due to an increasingly successful U-boat campaign (which is helped by the departure of South Afrika from the war), the loss of the Middle East, and no America to help on the horizon (Pearl Harbor was delayed), Britain accepts a generous peace in the August of 1942. The Barbarossa launched ITTL is different from ours in the fact that no serious effort to capture Moscow was made, rather the brunt of the effort (and forces) was placed on Army Group South who was tasked with taking Kiev, then Rostov, and finally Stalingrad and Baku (similar to Case Blue). With Britain out of the war, the Afrika Korps goes through Russian occupied Persia and applies pressure on the southern Caucasus. In September of 1942, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and the following Winter, launches a limited offensive against the Soviet Union, taking Vladivostok. This attack ties up Soviet troops which otherwise would've been used for the counteroffensive against AGC near Moscow. After Germany captures Stalingrad, the oil fields in Grozny and Maikop largely intact, and Baku, a revolt in the Ukraine, and the imminent capture of Sevestapol Beria initiates a coup and signs a peace treaty with Germany in June 1943 where the Baltic states, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Georgia were released as "independent" states. The book concludes with Germany demonstrating a nuclear weapon delivered by an A10 rocket to Long Island Sound, demanding immediate cessation of hostilities with Japan, America accepts.

The book itself is a very easy yet captivating read. It reads like a "history book" you'd find in a Greenhill anthology, and there are two small first-person chapters which are also very well done. I understand that it might be too "far-fetched" for some, but if you suspend your disbelief, you'll most likely be very impressed by this short, 177 paged book.

Return to “What if”