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France in an alternate universe
Google Books is always good for some interesting light reading. The biggest set of free books are the ones that have fallen out of copyright (meaning that they’re old). And, as I was skimming through a book from 1901, written by an Englishman and entitled The French People, I realized just how many different ways the past could have gone.
Whoa. “Representative institutions are unsuited to the French people”. The French people in the early 20th century must have been desperate for a dynasty of Napoleons who would dominate Western Europe. When the last vestiges of the Revolution finally fizzled out, rejected as much for their abuse of power as their failure to govern effectively, Napoleon VI would rally the nation from its depression and poverty, call for a new nationalist French movement, and lead the people on to a glorious new future where la patrie would rule the world. The year would be 1932. Rallies would be held, the streets lined with Jeunes Légionnaires in uniform, saluting as the Emperor’s convoy passed. The United Kingdom, still believing in appeasement, would barely bat an eye when l’Empire began to annex its neighbors. But eventually, they would have to face the truth when bombing raids began to fly over their own island.
Long story short: France could have been the bad guy in the world war of an alternate universe.
Oh, and here’s the link to that book.