Synopses & Reviews
The “Great War” claimed nearly 40 million lives and set the stage for World War II, the Holocaust, and the Cold War. One hundred years later, historians are beginning to recognize how unnecessary it was. In Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!, acclaimed political psychologist Richard Ned Lebow examines the chain of events that led to war and what could reasonably have been done differently to avoid it. In this highly original and intellectually challenging book, he constructs plausible worlds, some better, some worse, that might have developed. He illustrates them with “what-if” biographies of politicians, scientists, religious leaders, artists, painters, and writers, sports figures, and celebrities, including scenarios where: there is no Israel; neither John Kennedy nor Barack Obama become president; Curt Flood, not Jackie Robinson, integrates baseball; Satchmo and many Black jazz musicians leave for Europe, where jazz blends with klezmer; nuclear research is internationalized and all major countries sign a treaty outlawing the development of atomic weapons; Britain and Germany are entrapped in a Cold War that threatens to go nuclear; and much more.
"For Lebow (A Cultural Theory of International Relations), a professor of international political theory, the erasure of WWI from our historical timeline would have placed our world on a path quite different from the one we are on today. He expounds on the theory of counterfactuals to revisit and better understand our history. 'What-ifs of this kind offer insights into the world in which we actually live,' Lebow claims, letting us 'probe why and how it came about, how contingent it was, and how we should evaluate it.' He begins with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and its aftershocks, detailing what could have happened in the fields of science, art, medicine, and politics had the archduke survived. Using historical and personal records, supported by known personality traits of notable period figures, Lebow fashions two possible worlds, one better and one worse, had WWI been avoided. His confidence is evident on every page; this work of alternative history reminds us of our own position in flow of events and tempts us to follow Lebow's lead in fantasizing about the possibilities inherent in these very distinct worlds. Though we can't escape the realities of our past, Lebow provides his readers with exciting alternatives to consider." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Richard Ned Lebow is professor of International Political Theory in the Department of War Studies at Kings College London and James O. Freedman Presidential Professor Emeritus of Government at Dartmouth College. He is also a bye-fellow of Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge, and the author of almost 30 books. His work has been cited in The New York Times , The Wall Street Journal , and The Economist , and he has been interviewed on NPR, the BBC, CSPAN, and German, French, and Italian radio and television. He lives in London, England and Etna, New Hampshire.