Then Everything Changed

Then Everything Changed

Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics : JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan

Book - 2011
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A brilliant and brilliantly entertaining tour de force of American politics from one of journalism's most acclaimed commentators.

History turns on a dime. A missed meeting, a different choice of words, and the outcome changes dramatically. Nowhere is this truer than in the field where Jeff Greenfield has spent most of his working life, American politics, and in three dramatic narratives based on memoirs, histories, oral histories, fresh reporting with journalists and key participants, and Greenfield's own knowledge of the principal players, he shows just how extraordinary those changes would have been.

These things are true: In December 1960, a suicide bomber paused fatefully when he saw the young president-elect's wife and daughter come to the door to wave goodbye...In June 1968, RFK declared victory in California, and then instead of talking to people in another ballroom, as intended, was hustled off through the kitchen...In October 1976, President Gerald Ford made a critical gaffe in a debate against Jimmy Carter, turning the tide in an election that had been rapidly narrowing.

But what if it had gone the other way? The scenarios that Greenfield depicts are startlingly realistic, rich in detail, shocking in their projections, but always deeply, remarkably plausible. You will never think about recent American history in the same way again.
Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, c2011
ISBN: 9780399157066
0399157069
Branch Call Number: 973.92 GRE 2011 22
Characteristics: xiv, 434 p. ; 24 cm

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AaronAardvark1940
Sep 05, 2017

This book was in the Schusterman-Benson display on alternate facts, and is definitely a fun read.
Greenfield put a tremendous amount of research into this book. He uses three major "what if" situations, blended with historical facts, to create alternate American histories. What if the pre-inaugural 1961 assassination attempt on JFK had succeeded, what if Sirhan had not murdered RFK, what if Ford had not said there was no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe? His fantasies have the taste of real possibilities, although the RFK scenario seems a bit stretched to me.

j
june2813
Jul 26, 2012

Greenfield is a credible and well respected journalist who used his skills to render a very plausible alternative set of outcomes, which had their origins in presidential history. He stays very firmly rooted in actual fact and lets the
"what if" portion of his tale spin out logically. Greenfield has liberally used the well documented political style and often the words of the these historical figures to flesh out his speculative possibilities.
If there was any flaw I found his wry humorous manner of assigning heavily covered news events to different people, such as Gary Hart having a liason with a staff intern, a bit smarmy. But overall it's a good read and if nothing else, I learned everything old is new again.

g
GrumpyDave
May 05, 2011

Entertaining bit of speculative fantasy. The book is well-written, and I found it to be a compelling read. I found it difficult to put down. Some readers may feel that the author's speculations in the book lean too much to the left, but I think such speculation is justifiable, considering how the national political environment has shifted to the right. The author is not writing a purely fictional account of what could have happened, but does base his speculations on events and attitudes of the periods. Anyone who wonders what might have been if ... should enjoy reading this book.

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