New Zealand As It Might Have Been 2, by Stephen Levine (ed)
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In 2006 NEW ZEALAND AS IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN introduced a new way of looking at New Zealand’s national experience – its history, society and politics, even its rugby – as 15 authors considered what could have been rather than simply what was. Now this new book offers a further 17 portraits of ‘New Zealand as it might have been’ – a mix of short stories and commentaries, some whimsical, others grim, each offering a perceptive and plausible new slant on significant events and personalities. NEW ZEALAND AS IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN 2 extends the range of ‘what if’ scenarios to include literary figures – among them New Zealand’s most famous writer, Katherine Mansfield – as well as the country’s internationally respected national hero, Sir Edmund Hillary, examining moments in their lives when, with only a modest degree of adjustment, things could well have taken an entirely different turn. Political and military events also feature, with New Zealand’s fate under German rule after the First World War, and under Nazi occupation during the Second, challenging reminders of the country’s insecure position in a world at war. Other chapters revisit the meaning of ANZAC Day, the possible effects of a postwar visit by Winston Churchill, and New Zealand’s avoidable choice to fight alongside the Americans in Vietnam. From Hone Heke’s 19th-century challenge to British sovereignty through to the enactment of women’s suffrage – from The Moyle Affair to the foreshore-and-seabed dispute, and on to John Key’s decision to hold a new referendum on MMP in 2011 – this second volume of ‘alternative history’, NEW ZEALAND AS IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN 2, offers a variety of visions of a country that nearly was: 17 possible pasts, leading to 17 unique and different New Zealands.
‘New Zealand as it might have been excels at the strategic re-lighting of our past’
New Zealand Books
‘Like the additives beloved of petrol companies, these questions clean the cylinders of the brain. … there is enough provocation to fuel a hundred pub and party arguments about what might have been’
Gerald Hensley, Dominion Post
‘If changing the world from a static and predictable place appeals, you may be as stimulated and entertained by New Zealand as it might have been as I was’
New Zealand Jewish Chronicle
‘ … visions of how our history might have developed if key events had taken a different course … The ‘what ifs’ of history are of more than academic interest. The realisation that things could easily have been different is a powerful tonic to those who would like to make them different today. … The benefit of this exercise is to be reminded that nothing in history was predestined, no decision was cast in stone and nor is it still.’
Editorial, New Zealand Herald
‘… the historians contributing here have gleefully taken part and cooked up multiple versions of our possible pasts’