What Ifs of Jewish History: From Abraham to Zionism
Reimagine a historical event and its impact by changing one small detail, then extrapolate from there. If you do this in fiction, it’s alternate history; if you do this in nonfiction, it’s a counterfactual. And there is no social group in history with greater contemporary cultural ties to its own history than the Jewish people.
What Ifs of Jewish History presents numerous scholarly attempts at examining various counterfactuals, altering details from the exodus, the temple of Jerusalem, and of course, World War II, to explore the myriad influences at play in those moments in time. And there’s so much to learn from doing this, like the importance of the battles in El Alamein in diverting the Final Solution.
Although I preferred the pieces here presented as nonfiction to the ones presented as fiction — though, they’re all fiction, really — each author clearly did their homework on these crucial turning points in Jewish history, pondering how the world might have changed as a whole. The few missteps — like the Weimar Republic one, which seemed to ignore most of the social pressures that led to the rise of Nazism — can’t tarnish an intriguing glimpse at what might have been.
Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, Editor
Cambridge University Press