Fiction is all about imagination. Many authors like to imagine what would happen if certain historical events unfolded differently. If you love history, reading, and thinking outside the box, these are the alt history books you should check out:
The Underground Railroad
In Colson Whitehead’s novel about the Underground Railroad, there is a literal railroad running beneath America. Runaway slaves use this network to travel and escape trouble, but beyond that, this book doesn’t mess with history too much. It features a compelling cast of characters led by Cora, a young slave from Georgia whose mother disappeared when she was young. When she decides to run away with another slave named Caesar, her life will never be the same. Amazon purchased the rights and will be releasing a TV series based on the book, with episodes directed by Barry Jenkins.
The Plot Against America
What if Franklin Roosevelt lost the 1940 election? What if Charles Lindbergh, widely-believed to be a Nazi sympathizer, became president instead? In this Philip Roth novel, America turns on a dark path as the Lindberg presidency makes peace with Hitler-controlled Germany and establishes anti-semitism as the norm. Philip Roth himself is the narrator and he pulls from true experiences as a child in the 1940’s to capture the times.
The Years of Salt And Rice
When the Black Plague struck Europe, it killed ⅓ of the population. What if the disease had been most worse, and 99% of Europe perished? In this novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, Europe falls as the reigning empire, leaving the East to dominate. China reaches North America first and the Industrial Revolution begins in India. Christianity, a mostly European institution at the time of the plague, almost fades from existence. Told from multiple perspectives, this book is a fascinating look at a world very different from ours.
That Inevitable Victorian Thing
E.K. Johnston sets this book in Canada and asks the question, “What if the British Empire remained a superpower?” The plot follows the story of Victoria-Margaret, the crown princess, who is reaching the age where she must marry the most genetically-suitable suitor. Before her wedding, however, she gets one last summer to have fun. That’s when she meets Helena and August, and the three friends realize their lives (and the world) could be transformed.