What if history happened differently? From the Library of Alexandria to the Black Death, the Civil War to World War 2. Here are 6 must read alternate history books.
“What if” is a subject that gives authors complete freedom. Using historical events as a basis, the alternate history genre was born. Some entangle fantasy elements, while others change an outcome. How would the world be different if these tales were true?
Pre-Civil War Alternate History Books
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
The Great Library Series begins with this book. The whole premise: what if the Library of Alexandria never burned down?
The Great Library has unprecedented reach and delivers all content. But power is dangerous when personal book ownership is illegal.
Jess Brightwell enters the Great Library to be a spy. But, in his last few weeks of training before becoming a staff member, a friend commits heresy.
And Jess soon learns one thing. The Great Library values knowledge over any human life.
Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
What if the Black Plague killed 99% of the European population?
In this world, Buddhism and Islam are the two main religions. Christianity’s influence was destroyed with the plague.
Civil War/Slavery Alternate History Books
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
What if the Underground Railroad wasn’t a metaphor?
In this alternate history book, engineers and conductors are in charge of underground tracks and tunnels.
Cora, who lives on a Georgia plantation, is tired of living in slavery. So, when Ceasar, an arrival from Virginia, tells Cora about the underground railroad, they both make a run for it.
But, an escape is not that easy. As they run, a slave catcher is right on their heels.
This novel was both a Pulitzer Price Winner and an Oprah Book Club choice.
Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
What if the Civil War never happened?
Lincoln was assassinated before the Emancipation Proclamation and a compromise was reached. So, in this alternate history thriller, slavery continues in 4 states: The Hard Four.
Vicktor, a black man, works as a bounty hunter for his freedom. While on the trail of a runaway, Jackdaw, he tries to infiltrate an abolitionist group named The Underground Airlines.
But, as time passes, Vicktor discovers secrets that will change his future.
World War 2 Alternate History Books
Front Lines by Michael Grant
What if women signed up for the WW2 draft?
This first book in the Front Lines Series, this alternate history tale addresses World War 2.
Following three young women, this book is told from all 3 perspectives. Each has their reasons for signing up to fight the Nazis. Each has their own struggles while in the ranks.
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
What if the Nazis won WW2?
In 1956, the Axis Powers (The Third Reich and Japan) rule. To celebrate their Great Victory, they host a yearly motorcycle race across the continent. The winner is allowed to meet the isolated Hitler.
Yael is a former death camp prisoner. and part of the Resistance. Her mission has one goal: to win the race and…to kill Hitler.
Thanks to experimentation in the camp, she has the power to skinshift. But, she must use it to impersonate the only female racer-Adele Wolfe.
Nobody can know who she truly is. Or her true goal.
What is your favorite alternate history book? If you wrote one, what would you change in history?