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Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reaga n Paperback – February 7, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Historical speculation may not be fruitful, but it's fun -- and former Kennedy speechwriter and longtime political journalist Jeff Greenfield definitely has his fill of it, presenting three alternate history scenarios spanning two decades. He begins with the assassination of John F. Kennedy nearly two months before his inauguration as President, resets the clock and jumps to a kitchen in Los Angeles, where JFK's brother Robert narrowly escaped an attempt on his own life. After following RFK's bitter election campaign, Greenfield restores reality again and moves us into the seventies, shortly before Gerald Ford informed Jimmy Carter that there was no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe and never would be under his administration. Here, though, Ford rallies and just barely beats Carter in the election.
Greenfield's fun at history's expense provides for some great stories: for instance, after his aggressive stance offends Kruschev, the latter decides to "put a hedgehog in Uncle Sam's pants" and forces Johnson to respond to Soviet missiles in Cuba. Later, presidential candidate Robert Kennedy confronts violent students protests in Chicago in 1968, and still later Ted Kennedy is forced to debate a man who adopts Kennedy's own brother's legacy and uses RFK's words against him. Greenfield throws in little allusions to how historical events truly played out -- both during this period and beyond. Newly-minted congressman Al Gore Jr.Read more ›
I'm a big fan of alternate history, and having watched Greenfield talk about this book, he obviously is as well. The best alternative histories always turn on one single event going slightly differently, and for the first 2/3 of the book or so Greenfield paints a great "what might have been". The first story is probably the best. In the real world, there was a lone, John Birch type nut who was planning on blowing up JFK in December of 1960. In our world, he got close but never succeeded, but Greenfied's world he kills Kennedy and throws the nation into a Constitutional crisis. Greenfield deftly weaves the tale of a nation in mourning with the back-room politicians who are so stunned they are falling all over themselves to make sure that the right thing happens and is SEEN as happening, so that the country knows that it's government will continue. His description of Lyndon Johnson is spot on. The LBJ who was Master of the Senate comes through very clearly as he takes the reigns of a shattered nation after the Age of Camelot is snuffed out before it even begins.Read more ›
Greenfield has selected three events from the late 20th century to form the speculative basis of his book. The first game-changing occurrence is an assassination attempt on John F. Kennedy. In December 1960, Richard Pavlick, a retired postal worker, drove a dynamite-loaded car to the Palm Beach, Florida vacation residence of the President-elect, but his plan was foiled by law enforcement. Greenfield speculates how history might have changed had Pavlick succeeded in exploding his device. A constitutional crisis would have resulted as the Electoral College had not yet voted for the President and Vice-President. In the skillful hands of Greenfield, the hypothetical history reads like actual reporting.
The saga of Richard Pavlick is unknown to many Americans. However, Sirhan Sirhan is recognized by almost all and remains in the news today. This past week, California authorities denied Sirhan parole for the June 1968 killing of Robert Kennedy. THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED speculates on how history might have been different had the murder never occurred. The result, according to Greenfield, is the presidency of Robert Kennedy. In his description of the Kennedy presidency, Greenfield's admiration for the New York Senator is clear.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Got this for my wife who double majored in history and political science. She said it was an interesting read. I haven't cracked it open yet.Published 6 months ago by joshua b.
I'm still reading it. Since I lived through this time I am having a little trouble with keeping up with the "alternate" view of historic events. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Egramone Golden
I am reading this book now. It is hard to put down! It offers a kind of alternative universe of "what ifs" if certain events in American history had not occurred. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Cynthiav
Interesting, but definitely for political geeks. Greenfield presents three interesting scenarios and fills each a level of detail missing from many of the normal alternative... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Michael D. Kanner
Fast delivery, well packaged. Great read, interesting premisPublished 13 months ago by Ernest J. Grassey