Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld


Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld

Thursday, January 5, 2017

"The Guardian" Promotes Alternate History (Thanks to Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle")

Amazon Prime’s hit series, The Man in the High Castle, continues to generate interest in counterfactual history. 

Today, I stumbled across a whole series of alternate history videos sponsored by Amazon on the website of the British newspaper, The Guardian.

Listed under the title, “The Double Take,” the site contains videos and articles featuring alternate history authors, historians, and museum curators discussing counterfactual scenarios involving, Germany, Japan, and the U. S. during World War II.


The three main videos are:

1. “Alternate History Video: Could Hitler Have Fooled the World Forever?”  This video features Harry Turtledove discussing the history of Nazi propaganda and speculating about how effective it might have been had the Nazis won World War II.  He argues that the Nazi empire would have been short-lived and that its propaganda would not have been able to stifle the yearning of oppressed peoples for long.

2. “Alternate History Video: What If Hitler Took the World to War Sooner?”  This video features historian Gerhard Weinberg discussing Hitler’s mistakes in World War II.  He argues that if Hitler had unleashed the war earlier in 1938 at the time of the Sudeten crisis (as he originally wanted), Germany might have had an easier time defeating France and then would have had greater success attacking Britain by air (as the latter’s rebuilding of its Air Force was not yet complete, as it would be by 1940).  The result would have been a German victory in the Battle of Britain and then an outright naval invasion of the British Isles.  This, Weinberg says, would have prolonged the war considerably – so much so, that Germany probably would have been hit with the first atomic bomb (which the U. S. had developed to strike Germany originally in the first place).

3. “Alternate History Video: Can Cultures Truly Merge After War?”  This video features the Honolulu Museum of Art’s curator, Stephen Salel, examining how American and Japanese culture might have developed had Japan never gotten involved in World War II.  (The answer: both cultures would have remained more insular and the relationship between the two countries would have resembled the relationship between the U. S. and China today, in the sense that there’s little cultural influence from China upon the U. S.)

The three short videos are worth watching in and of themselves.

But they are mostly notable for their presence of the website of one of Britain’s most respected newspapers.

Amazon’s motives for promoting counterfactual history are clear: to generate higher ratings for The Man in the High Castle.  But I don’t see any down side in the cross promotion agenda.  If counterfactual history further gains popularity as a result of it, so much the better.

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