The wife is watching this show about an American girl working in Paris.

After 10 minutes I realize that if I had a time machine I’d give a copy of The Guns of August to the German high command in 1913.

Just to make sure that they destroy the French Army and capture Paris and win the war by 1915.  Also to avoid getting into a war with the Russians.

For that matter I’d give the Prime Minister, Czar and Sultan a copy of the book too.

Without the Russians getting into the war there would be no Soviet Revolution, the Ottoman Empire wouldn’t have collapsed leading to a rise in Middle Eastern Islamism.

WWII and the Holocaust would have been averted.

And the snooty French would be crushed under the boot heel of the industrious Germans.

The British wouldn’t have gotten involved and neither would the Americans, meaning no long drawn out WWI, no Roaring 20, no Great Depression, and no FDR.

But mostly no insufferable French.

Now all I need is my time machine.


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By J. Kb

19 thoughts on “If I had a time machine…”
    1. What’s the German word for “shortcut”?


      Life is like Belgium. You just have to get through it.

      Why are the French nervous when Germans and Russians are feuding? Because for attacking Moscow we take a run-up from Paris.

      Who won the Tour-de-france 1940?
      The 7. Panzer Division

  1. “By the way, Homer – which is your least favourite country? Italy or France?” – “France.” – “Haha, nobody ever says Italy.”

    No one likes France. The countryside may be nice, the people may be nice but the package is an insufferable shit show of delusional megalomaniacs.

    1. Part of the way I view France comes from the realization they still think of Napoleon as a great man, the way some unreconstructed Russian communists think of Stalin. And when I’m in a cynical mood, I say that the purpose of the European Union is to finish the job that Napoleon started.

  2. Interesting idea and one of those time travel ones I’d never thought of. If you have room in your time machine, add to the 1913 German High Command’s reading list Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”.
    But the Guns of August – would they ever get some mileage out of that one.

  3. The Dreadnought arms race made war between Germany and Britain likely.
    Kaiser Willy’s diplomatic bungling made it inevitable- and was even bad enough to make the historic impossibility of an Entente between Russia, France, and Britain actually happen.

  4. Track down Robespierre in about 1770 and put a knife in his kidney as he stumbles home from the public house one night. You’ll solve most of the 19th and 20th Centuries problems then and there.

  5. Interesting thought.

    The only problem I see – other than a lack of some cheeses I’m fond of – is that as soon as events begin to deviate from the book, the book is no longer really useful. So while it will help to avoid the listed mistakes, it won’t necessarily guarantee a win. (e.g. if you keep Von Kluk in a command position, he’s going to make a wrong turn somewhere…) Likewise, the Russian Revolution could easily still happen, and might come out even worse.

    Now, if you came back with the plans for the AK-47 and the Leopard…

  6. Going to have to disagree with that.

    The number one use of a time machine would be to go a week into the past so you can use that witty reply you just thought of and win the argument with a epic mic drop moment.

    Number two would be travelling through time to prevent anyone else from creating a time machine.

    There will not be enough time for other endevours.

  7. What about taking your time machine and removing Mohammed before he goes all “Kill the Jews in Arabia”? Or maybe redirect him back into more peace, love, and charity; and less barbarian tribal raider and “Kill The Infidels!”?

    Would Constantinople have fallen? Would there have been Crusades? What would happen in Egypt if the Coptic Christians had more time to develop a civilization? What about Spain and their battle to drive out Isalm and also the Jews? Would Queen Isabella finance Christopher Columbus? Or would the Exploration of the New World have occurred centuries earlier? How would India have developed with the Mughals? What would the Mideast have been with out Timur the Lame? What would happen if there was no Ottoman Empire?

  8. All this serves to remind us that “alternate history” is a well established area of fiction. Science fiction writers do it a lot, no surprise there. Neil Smith had a fun one where Santa Ana was killed before the Alamo, and Texas remained an independent republic. (“Roswell, Texas”). Not to mention his “Probability Broach” series. Harry Turtledove did a whole bunch of them, though the later ones get rather tedious. But “Guns of the South” is quite good. And I also remember “The court-martial of George Armstrong Custer”.

    The nice thing about all these is that you can pick any event you like, large or small, change it, and then create the story of what the resulting world looks like. Some of the better stories resulting from this also tell you interesting things about the world we actually have.

  9. If I had access to your time machine, after you gave the relevant powers “The Guns of August,” I’d be tempted to go back and assassinate the Austrian Chief of the General Staff, Franz von Hötzendorf and maybe Emperor Franz Joseph as well. Without those two Austria may not have been so eager to ignore the Russian threat to declare war on the Austrio-Hungarian Empire in retaliation to a declaration of war on Serbia.

  10. Remember that time, six or seven years from now, when we invented time travel? Ahh, I can remember it like it was only tomorrow. What amazing adventures we are going to have had.

    We should do it all again yesterday!

Only one rule: Don't be a dick.

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