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by Anton Powell
Classical Press of Wales (2013) 228pp £50 (ISBN 9781905125586)
Hindsight in ancient historiography has received considerable attention, especially of late. This highly attractive volume pursues a different, if inevitably cognate angle: the contribution that hindsight can make to our understanding of crucial moments in ancient history. Such a project does of course require a robust engagement with historiography, but considerably (and excitingly) exceeds its remit. Its agenda is not just to restate the importance of ‘what if’ history: it is predominantly, as Anton Powell makes clear in his crisp introduction, about writing history by asking ourselves what alternatives—real and perceived—were open to those who experienced certain historical events, how they went about predicting their future, and how they shaped their choices accordingly.
Christopher Pelling’s paper offers a second introduction to the whole theme that is also a most enjoyable tour de force, from Robert Harris’s Fatherland
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