Wednesday, July 20, 2011

For Want Of A Nail by Robert Sobel - Book Review

For Want of a Nail was written by author Robert Sobel (1993-1999) in the year 1971. At that time Sobel, who was a business historian, was between contracts, and so wrote For Want of a Nail to give himself something to do.

Basically, the point of divergence occurs in 1777 when the British win the Battle of Saratoga, during the American Revolutionary War. In 1778 the colonists are forced to capitulate to the British, many of the Founding Fathers, such as George Washington, are imprisoned, while Thomas Jefferson and others are executed in London.

To remedy the causes of the war, the British reorganize the colonies into the Confederation of North America, giving the colonies more control over their own affairs while reserving some powers to Great Britain.

Many of the formers rebels leave the CNA to escape British rule. Heading west they occupy roughly the area that Texas would be in real life, and form the State of Jefferson, an independent country. In 1805, Mexico is engulfed in a drawn-out civil war, which Jefferson enters in 1817 when Andrew Jackson leads an army to capture Mexico City.

Jackson then engineers the combination of the two countries to form the United States of Mexico.

The book presents itself as a college-level history text from that world, covering the historical, political, social and economic events from 1763 to 1970.

This is probably the most detailed alternate history fiction ever written. And what's more impressive is that Sobel wrote it to give himself something to do in his spare time.

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