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Sobel, Robert

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

(1931-1999) US academic and author, almost exclusively of nonfiction studies in business history. His only sf novel, For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga (1973), is an Alternate History of post-Revolution America, written in the form of a textbook, with maps and hundreds of footnotes to imaginary sources. The Jonbar Point of the book is the victory of General Burgoyne at Sarasota in October 1777, as a consequence of which the Colonies are eventually forced to surrender to Britain, which creates a Commonwealth of North America in 1780. Dissident rebels move southwestwards into Mexico; after much conflict and constantly changing relations among the states of North America and a similarly transformed Europe, the twentieth century sees a private corporation detonate an atom bomb in June 1962, initiating a Cold War. In 1973 that war continues. After its republication in 1997, For Want of a Nail was given a Special Achievement Sidewise Award. [JC]

Robert J Sobel

born New York: 19 February 1931

died Long Beach, New York: 2 June 1999

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