"In Britain, academics often dismiss counterfactual history as a 'busman’s holiday.' Maybe so. But it can be an enlightening exercise to challenge the belief that what happened had to happen. Usually, it didn’t." --JACOB HEILBRUNN in a review of Jeff Greenfield's new alternative history on John Kennedy's two terms as president, if he weren't assassinated.
I love studying plausible alternative histories, because it teaches you two contradictory things: a) the importance of individual action in determining the course of history; b) the unimportance of individuals in determining the great sweep of history.
America's individualistic culture probably places too great an emphasis on the individual, as we try to understand history, whereas more collectivist cultures place too little emphasis on individuals as they try to understand history.