OU Instructor Constructs 'What If' History Lesson

Tuesday, October 26th 2010, 6:41 pm
By: News 9

Gan Matthews, News 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- A young instructor at OU has started a blog dedicated to "what if" questions ignored by historians. What if Abraham Lincoln wasn't assassinated? What if America lost World War Two?

Jeff Provine has rewritten history. Last summer, he started a blog on alternate history while recovering from a bout of food poisoning. One of his first subjects was Oklahoma's favorite son, Will Rogers.

"He's a comedy writer. He's a political activist. He's an innovator in aviation. He's all these things wrapped into one. And then he's just suddenly gone," said Provine.

In Provine's re-imagining, Will Rogers survived the plane crash in Point Barrow, Alaska, in 1935 and went on to bigger things; namely, the White House.

Provine also reworked the Battle of San Juan Hill so that Teddy Roosevelt died in combat.

"Without Theodore Roosevelt, we don't have him playing up the Republican Party," Provine said. "We don't have the trust busting. We have more kind of quieter McKinley economics. We get into quieter isolationism. World War One, we don't really get into that because the Spanish-American War got a lot of bad press."

Provine has provided a lot of different takes on history, but what do real historians think of the "what ifs?"

"I have a friend who says repeatedly that I tell him my ideas. And he says, well, real history is more interesting, which I suppose it is since it actually happened, much more complex."

Read Jeff Provine's blog.