Quentin Deluermoz is professor of history at the University of Paris. Pierre Singaravelou is professor of history at King's College London and at the University Pantheon-Sorbonne. Stephen W. Sawyer is professor of history at the American University of Paris.
Our political activities are based on the presumption that choices matter. But historians rarely consider roads not taken and the chain of consequences that a different direction at a crucial turning point could have had. Quentin Deluermoz and Pierre Singaravelou push us to pose such questions, and hence to reconsider how we think about history. -Frederick Cooper, author of Citizenship, Inequality, and Difference: Historical Perspectives In this wonderful book, Quentin Deluermoz and Pierre Singaravelou show counterfactual history has itself a long and rich history. Ever since Tite-Live, Edward Gibbon, Louis Geoffroy and Niall Ferguson, social actors and intellectuals have been describing some of the many historical paths and bifurcations which did not happen. The book offers a fascinating analysis of this body of discourse, its uses and misuses. A must-read by two of the most innovative historians of their generation. -Thomas Piketty, author of Capital and Ideology Impeccably documented, A Past of Possibilities provides an impressively broad survey of the usages of counterfactual reasoning in various disciplines, weaves epistemological reflections with critical assessments, spells out methodological recommendations, and outlines how these can inform the teaching of history in various settings: a remarkable and multi-faceted achievement. - Ivan Ermakoff, author of Ruling Oneself Out: A Theory of Collective Abdications