Three days into 2013 and I’ve already wrapped up my first book of the year. Granted, it was only 105 pages and the last 15 pages of it were notes and acknowledgements, but it counts! It obviously didn’t take me very long to read but I found myself wishing it didn’t have to end.
Jeff Greenfield wrote one of my favorite books of 2011, Then Everything Changed, which examined three different political alternate histories. I’m kind of a sucker for alternate history, but the problem is that it is so rarely done well. Then Everything Changed was so different. Meticulously researched, using actual quotes from the real history mixed in with completely imaginary events, Greenfield created three very plausible alternate late 20th century histories.
In response to his book, he got a lot of mail asking him about other moments in history, but far and away the most asked about historical turning point people wanted him to write about was the razor-thin 2000 Presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. What he came up with involved a decisive Gore win, a controversial foreign policy decision and a very different September 11, 2001. I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the book – the way it unspools is half the fun – but rest assured, political and late-20th-century history junkies will not be disappointed. It also doesn’t take the easy road by signing on to how much more wonderful everything would have been had we been spared a Bush presidency.
43: When Gore Beat Bush is less a book and more a bonus chapter to Then Everything Changed, but I can hardly hold that against it. I wish Greenfield would write more of these because at 99 cents each – it’s a Kindle Single and also available in the Nook store – I would buy and read just about anything he would choose to write about.