The fascination of counterfactual narrative-writing that deals in alternative historical outcomes-lies in its challenge to our lazy fatalism, our tendency to believe that things ended up as they did because they had to. Such counterfactual speculations as the works of revisionist historian Niall Ferguson, or Philip Roth’s recent novel, The Plot against America, in which Charles Lindbergh defeats FDR in the 1940 presidential election, or...
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Jack Miles is Distinguished Professor of English and Religious Studies at the University of California, Irvine, and Senior Fellow for Religion and International Affairs for with the Pacific Council on International Policy.