Crossroads of Historical Divergence

Points of divergence are historical crossroads where there is a crucial choice historical actors have to make wherein an alternate decision will irrevocably change the outcome of the history we know.


Points of divergence are historical crossroads where there is a crucial choice historical actors have to make wherein an alternate decision will irrevocably change the outcome of the history we know. These events are affected by slight changes in the actual timeline with divergence in the actual decisions made not just by major characters but even insignificant minor characters as well.

What if no one radioed Washington D.C. on the attack on Pearl Harbor? Will Japan continued its relentless attack up to the West Coast and consider attacking the Panama Canal as well? Will San Francisco look like Yokohama in a Japanese-occupied California? These are some of the questions that are left unanswered. Here are points of divergence that would create different historical outcomes:

1. A Cuban Missile Crisis Gone Hot

Envisions a world where the military-industrial complex sabotages President John F. Kennedy’s attempts to negotiate peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In this case, the United States decided to invade Cuba where it eventually disintegrates into a nuclear war that destroyed the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China and a fallout cloud over Asia kills millions of people more. Meanwhile, New York, Washington DC, San Diego, Miami, and other cities were wiped out. However, all surviving nations renounce their possession of nuclear weapons – with the exception of the U.S., now under martial law.


2. Marilyn Monroe Survived

Marilyn Monroe, a.k.a. Norma Jean Baker, who died a mysterious death in 1962, at age 36, has always been a controversial topic even for alternate history writers. Journalist Mark Lawson's 1995 novel "Idlewild" explores a scenario wherein Monroe survived her suicidal episodes, President John F. Kennedy was not assassinated and their affair went on for another 30 years.

In a 1992 story for Entertainment Weekly, Douglas Mendin imagined that Monroe would survive, dedicate herself to serious acting and win an Oscar in 1965. She would then record a hit song with Frank Sinatra, make bad films, and give up acting in 1980 to look after her drug-addicted twin sons.


3. William Shakespeare became a renowned historian

In Poul Andersen's acclaimed 1974 novel "A Midsummer Tempest," he envisioned a world where William Shakespeare's plays are utterly accurate and he is renowned not as a creative genius, but as a great chronicler of history. Hence, fairies and other magical beings exist in this world, and the clockwork technology of Ancient Rome advanced to the stage where, in the age of Oliver Cromwell, steam trains are already running through England. The Industrial Revolution happened 200 years earlier!


4. Woodrow Wilson never became president

An interesting chain reaction might have happened if Woodrow Wilson never became president as envisioned in Gore Vidal's 1995 novel "The Smithsonian Institution." In Vidal's altered timeline, a teenage maths genius is mysteriously summoned to the Smithsonian Institution in 1939, where he glimpses the horrors of the Second World War. Determined to prevent it from happening, he goes back in history to seek the cause of it. He pins the blame on that bloody global war in President Woodrow Wilson’s vision for the League of Nations as it caused Germany’s struggles in the 1920s, paving the way for the rise of Adolf Hitler.


5. Frank Sinatra never existed

He did it his way but what if Frank Sinatra was never born? Well, a 2009 episode of "Family Guy" explored that possibility where Stewie and Brian found themselves in an alternate universe wherein everything is sweet and wholesome for non-Jewish. In this parallel world, Christianity never existed and the Dark Ages never happened. The reverse role was the norm as it was the dog doing their human master's thing. But what about Sinatra?

He never existed so there was no one who was able to influence the outcome of the 1960 election that elected President John F. Kennedy in our timeline. Instead, Richard Nixon was elected, and “totally botched the Cuban Missile Crisis, causing World War III.” This caused devastation all around them. Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t shoot Kennedy but shot Mayor McCheese instead.



6. Franklin Roosevelt was assassinated in 1933

We all know that FDR remains the longest-serving president of the United States but what if he was killed by an assassin's bullet before he even began his administration? Philip K. Dick and his acclaimed novel "The Man in the High Castle" examines the consequences of that historical divergence. Giuseppe Zangara has successfully assassinated President-elect Franklin Roosevelt and without his unifying personality, the United States became weak and the Axis won World War 2 in 1947.

As John Nance Garner assumed the role and later Republican John W. Brickner, the United States struggled during the Great Depression and eventually retreated itself to isolation so that the absence of a powerful and effective military force to stand in the way of the Axis, made it easier for Germany and Japan to win the war.

Fast forward to their version of 1962, slavery was re-instituted and few surviving Jews have held out. There was a technological leap forward with the Nazis inventing the hydrogen bomb and began supersonic air travel and space colonization.


7. Operation Sea Lion succeeded in knocking Britain out of the war

We all know that Germany wanted to invade the British Isles through a combined air and naval campaign that will saw the Wehrmacht crossing the English Channel and unleash their panzers towards London. Although the plan was shelved in 1940 in our timeline, military tacticians from the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst have revisited the operation should it succeeded.

They have started war games wherein they speculate about how different strategies might have changed history. You may also give the Hearts of Iron game a go and find out how it would unfold. It depends on who you want to believe is plausible.

Some alternate history buffs would say that the battle-hardened Germans were no match against the Home Guards as most of the regular British Army units are scattered throughout its far-flung colonies. On the other hand, other experts believe that the Germans would not have been able to withstand the might of the British Home Guards, the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Navy. The Germans would have been bottled up in the English Channel where it would have been severely weakened the German army, and hastened the end of the war.


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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger: Crossroads of Historical Divergence
Crossroads of Historical Divergence
Points of divergence are historical crossroads where there is a crucial choice historical actors have to make wherein an alternate decision will irrevocably change the outcome of the history we know.
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