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What Ifs of Jewish History: From Abraham to Zionism Hardcover – October 24, 2016
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"The enduring value of counterfactual approaches emerges clearly from Gavriel Rosenfeld's ably constructed collection of perceptive and exciting essays. The volume is a major contribution to the method as well as to Jewish history."
Jeremy Black, University of Exeter, and author of Other Pasts, Different Presents, Alternative Futures
"Gavriel Rosenfeld has produced a marvellously imaginative book. While it is not 'history' in the conventional sense, it is certain to be appreciated, even treasured, by scholars and all of those deeply concerned with the fate of European Jewry."
Michael Berkowitz, University College London
"Counterfactual thinking is implicit in Jewish culture, from the grumbling of the liberated slaves about the watermelons they would have enjoyed in Egypt to the 'Dayenu' song in the Passover Seder. Entertaining and educational, What Ifs of Jewish History makes explicit the main junctures in Jewish history by imagining what would have been otherwise, including a Jewish state in Africa and a Christian state in Israel, a world without Jews and history without the Holocaust."
Aviezer Tucker, author of Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography
"So why not a counterfactual? They are essential to making causal claims, normative judgments, and identity construction. The contributors to this fascinating volume conduct a series of sophisticated and eminently plausible counterfactual experiments towards these ends. Readers will learn much about Jewish history, European and Middle Eastern history."
Ned Lebow, King's College London
'What Ifs of Jewish History as a whole earns my recommendation. Its writing is not as dense as other counterfactual tomes I have come across and its fictional entries mean that [it] is accessible to a casual historian. Go check it out and learn a thing or two about Jewish history by visiting some different Earths.' Matt Mitrovich, Amazing Stories
'Editor Gavriel Rosenfeld ... makes a convincing case in his introduction that Jewish historians have, for various reasons, been largely reluctant to jump aboard the counterfactual train. This book, he contends, is the first serious counterfactual examination of Jewish history. The flavorful and abundant food for thought to be found here suggests that it's probably about time.' Chris Leppek, Intermountain Jewish News
'Given the controversial nature of counterfactuals, then, it is quite an achievement that Gavriel D. Rosenfeld has gathered fifteen scholars to contribute to What Ifs of Jewish History: From Abraham to Zionism ... Some scholars will always want to know what happened, and some will always speculate. In What Ifs of Jewish History, the questions are more important than the answers. Recommended.' Elka Weber, Segula: The Jewish Journey Through History
What Ifs of Jewish History offers a compelling counterfactual history of the Jewish past. With chapters ranging from the analytical to the literary, leading Jewish historians address three thousand years of dramatic events and invite readers to indulge their imaginations and explore how the course of Jewish history might have been different.
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Even authors who don,t like counterfactuals like the onw who wrote on what if Rommel had won at El Alamein have written good counterfactuals story based on real events. On the one about the Afrika Korps there no alternate story a la Turtledove or Tsouras but the author says based on what happned in the former Soviet Union and the extrmination plans made by the mufti and the Third Reich leaders what would have happned .
This books is not only for jewish people(I am a french canadian or quebecer and born catholic) but for everybody who likes counterfactuals story. I could compare it to Robert Cowley book What If of American History.
Nazis win the Battle of El Alamein -- explains how the Nazis would have employed in the Middle East the same tactics used in the Soviet Union to destroy the Jews.
Final Solution completed -- describes what the Nazis would have done to preserve detailed information about the Jewish people after completing the Holocaust in Europe.
Holocaust averted -- describes the consequences of WW2 starting a year early, due to failure to reach agreement at Munich in Sep 1938.
The problem is that many of the essays are just dull. more like academic treatises than essays aimed at a wider audience. An additional problem is that there is little text explaining what did happen, making it difficult for a nonspecialist to determine the point of divergence.
All in all, a disappointment.