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What if?

Robert Cowley says “What if?” is the favorite secret question of historians, and he asked dozens of historians to answer the question in his what if books.

What if a despotic Oriental empire had beaten the free Greeks at Salamis? What if the Spanish Armada had won and the Spanish army had occupied London? What if Australian boys had not been able to prevent the Japanese invasion of Australia in 1942? (We'll write about the Kokoda Trail on 29 August, the day when Australians celebrate the incredible courage of Australia’s young, untrained and virtually unarmed men against the best fighters in the Japanese Army.)

What if Stephen Langton had not been Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of King John? (The Knight) Would we have the disheveled (or nonexistent) property protections that combine to keep Africa impoverished? What if Montforts had not fought and died for the Provisions of Oxford and Westminster? (Dismembered and Remembered) How long would it have taken to get representative government? What if a shoemaker by the name of Thomas Hardy had not been willing to die for freedom of association? Or Anne Askew had not been willing to be tortured to defend freedom of conscience? Or John Locke had not defied the hangman to write? Or Hogarth had not insisted on copyright protections?

Can I assume someone else would have picked up the slack?


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