I Wish I’d Been There, Book 2: European History

I Wish I’d Been There, Book 2: European History. If I were an aspiring or published historical mystery writer searching for new story ideas, then this is a must read book. Twenty academic historians are asked to write an essay on the one moment in European History they wish they could have attended. Although the majority of moments are political in nature (beginning with Alexander the Great’s death and ending with Germany’s surrender in WWII), there are also essays about critical points in art, music, theatre and science. As with any multi-authored collection, some contributors do a better job than others at explaining the background of each moment, its importance in time and what questions they hope could be answered by being present at the scene, but there are far more successes than failures.

Without a doubt I can see talented mystery writers creating new works surrounding these moments from the book: Hannibal crossing the Alps, the Spanish Armada commanders conferring after their first disastrous day in the English Channel, or the backstage drama as Picasso works with the Ballet Russes. And it’s no stretch to see the natural progression from Margaret MacMillan’s essay on meetings in 1918-19 between the French and English prior to the Paris Peace Conference to Mary Doria Russell’s historical novel, Dreamers of the Day, about the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference to the delegation meeting in post-war Egypt in Michael Pearce’s latest, The Mark of the Pasha.

For those that prefer American history to that of Europe, Book 1 in the series should be your choice.


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