This review is from: Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!: A World without World War I (Hardcover)
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This is not a history book, rather it is a work that attempts to predict what the world would have been like if the First World War had not occurred. The trigger for the outbreak of the war was, of course, the assassination of the Archduke and Countess Sophie in Sarajevo in 1914. This is an interesting idea, but a little difficult to test his projected results. There are two types of science fiction, as far as I am concerned. The first is Cowboys in Space, while the second is better regarded as speculative fiction. Speculative fiction asks what would happen if a certain set of events were to occur in a particular setting. This book takes the premise of the latter and invents speculative history.
There were many technological advances made during WWI. These include the rapid development of aeroplanes and changes to production techniques for armaments which filtered into many industries. There were also many social changes. In Britain, Women gained the vote (or some did), and the great land-owning estates largely disappeared after the war, to be replaced by new money. The progress towards a more level society was at least partly due to this. The officer classes suffered the most in percentage terms and half a generation of young men were removed from society. In the U.S. social progress for blacks, catholics and other groups would have been considerably slower. Moreover, it is almost impossible to see the rise of Nazism except as a result of the WWI.
My personal opinion is that even without the assassination there would have been a war sometime, with another trigger setting events off. Germany was itching to get to war and establish a proper empire. The German plan was always to invade France through Belgium. It was the invasion of Belgium which was the trigger of British involvement. However, this is thought-provoking and entertaining read, and I recommend it, especially with the centenary of the assassination looming close. Even if you do not fully agree with the author’s conclusions it is a very worthwhile exercise to consider what might have happened.