It’s no secret that I’m a lover of counterfactual/alternative history, and so a book like this gets snapped up by me. “The Prime Ministers who never were” by Francis Beckett is very much for the British politics junkie, as some of the “What ifs” are a bit obscure to a modern audience. Having said that, it’s great fun, and one or two of the short pieces, about, for example, Oswald Mosley leading Labour to victory in 1945 and creating a United States of Europe, or Norman Tebbit arranging the assassination of the IRA Army Council (including a current member of the Dail) is entertaining. It’s also, in its format, very much a dipper into rather than a read from start to end.
Of course, it got me thinking abaout Irish politics. Are there stories to be told about Michael Collins, and or maybe Sean Lemass becoming Taoiseach earlier (Something I have speculated on here) or what if George Colley had defeated Haughey in 1979? How radically different would Irish history have been then?
One final point about the book’s publishers, Biteback, who are creating for themselves a superb niche in putting out political without being boring books. A very savvy operation indeed.