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‘If It Had Happened Otherwise’—First World War Exceptionalism In Counterfactual History

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Chapter Summary

While any historical event or development has unique characteristics, historians use the term ?exceptionalism? to identify those which appear to have no equivalent. The counterfactual history website Uchronia lists in its database some 2,600 books, stories and articles of counterfactual history, together with 127 works of critical theory on the genre. This chapter involves the investigation of some 45 books and essays featuring a counterfactual First World War of some kind, 28 of which have been published since 1990. The counterfactual history shares the view of the First World War of popular culture: a uniquely terrible event in which to consider victory or defeat in a battle is meaningless, and that almost any outcome would have been better, or at least no worse, than the historical one.

Keywords: counterfactual history; exceptionalism; First World War; Uchronia



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