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Alexandra

Reading and teaching history today

55 posts in this topic

Very true, Hans!

I would like to inquire about another book: has anyone read 'What If?' and/or 'What If? 2' ?

My father received the second What If? Book for Christmas two years ago, and I read it and loved it. I still have to beg the first book off my grandfather.

I must admit that I was rather disappointed at first; I was expecting to have someone start with ‘What if this hadn’t happened’ or ‘What if this had happened instead’ and then launch into how history would have followed after that. Instead, I found that it was rather more of a history lesson. Well, this and this and this and this and this and this and this…(etc. etc. etc.)…happened, but if Caesar had sneezed it wouldn’t have.

Still, it was a very good book.

One of the reasons I was eager to read it was that I’ve always wondered, as I’m sure many people do, about what could have happened if one little, tiny thing had been changed. What if there had been a thunderstorm on the day the Library of Alexandria burned down? Perhaps the fire wouldn’t have spread, and then all of those thousands of scrolls could have been saved. To be quite honest, the mere thought of the burning library brings tears to my eyes. What knowledge could we have gained if it had not burned? What insight into their lives? How many philosophers are unknown to us because their works were destroyed by fire? If only it had rained torrents on that day…

Or what if Archimedes had caught the flu when a baby, and died without the proper treatment? Where would we be now?

What if Socrates had accepted the assistance of his pupils and escaped from prison instead of drinking that fatal cup of poison?

What if Queen Tiy had decided her son Amenhotep (later Ahkenaton) should marry some other girl instead of Nefertiti?

What if Alexander the Great had drunk that flask of water instead of pouring it into the sands and saying, “One should not drink when many are thirsty”?

Or, here’s food for thought: what if Mickey Mouse had never been invented?

There are so many things you can speculate on--and my deepest apologies for dragging on and on and on...

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What might make a fun read for you would be James Burke's Connections in which the author demonstrates how the aforementioned Alexander made his soldiers shave, so it eventually became possible for astronauts to go to the Moon! :) Plus a lot of other good stuff!

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:blushing:

Yes, that does sound very interesting. I'll have to see if the library has it. That sounds more like what I was looking for; though, it sounds as though it's about how what has happened came to happen. I wonder if there are any books out there about what might have happened instead if such-and-such a thing had been done or if so-and-so had done this.

What if Cleopatra had tripped and fallen on her face when she met Antony? Maybe we would be living on Mars by now if she had. You never know!

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I just went on the library's website and did a search for James Burke; one book that came up that looks interesting is "The Pinball Effect : How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible, and Other Journeys Through Knowledge".

I've just found "Connections"; there's three of them (so far). Two are video recordings (Connections and Connections 2) and the other is 'interactive multimedia'. There's also a sound recording which I've just found, but there's no book. Do you know what company publishes it in book form? Maybe I could find the publisher's site and order it through there.

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What if Cleopatra had tripped and fallen on her face when she met Antony? Maybe we would be living on Mars by now if she had. You never know!

Perhaps you know that quote by Blaise Pascal "Le nez de Cléopâtre, s'il eût été plus court, la face du monde en eût été changée" (If Cleopatra had had a shorter nose, it would have changed the whole world). :blushing:

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