Books: Byron's Wooden Leg

IF IT HAD HAPPENED OTHERWISE

Edited by J.C. SQUIRE

320 pages. St. Martin's Press. $8.95.

The reader of history imagines himself to be at the very fulcrum of great events and thus at a gratifying distance from the morning mail or the evening news. There is no better way of keeping reality at bay, unless—and this is the admirable theory behind If It Had Happened Otherwise—the fulcrum of the great event is fancifully shifted a few centimeters, or removed entirely.

The scholarly wags whose work is reprinted in this celebrated collection of 14 essays (Otherwise was first printed in England in 1932) obviously had great...

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