“The Terrorist Who Wasn’t” differs from most alternate histories since It doesn’t focus on a single momentous event, like the Civil War, WWII, or the JFK assassination. Instead, it focuses on events of the final decade of the twentieth century, a transformative period with equal or greater impact on America’s future.
My previous alternate history, “The Victory That Wasn’t,” focuses on the Vietnam War. Reader feedback brought many positive comments from former service members and civilians who were part of that era. They enjoyed the book because they could vividly remember the people, places, and events that support the story. However, many contemporary adults are too young to remember the Vietnam years. I, therefore, wanted my new book to be a story set in a time remembered by anyone over thirty.
The 1990s began as a victorious time for America and ended with great uncertainty. The decade included proud high points and devastating low points. It began with a resounding victory against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army. Supported by a broad coalition of thirty nations, the quick triumph repositioned the US as the undisputed leader of the free world. And after decades of covert Cold War struggles, the USSR dissolved. It’s former satellite countries regained independence. Germany tore down the Berlin Wall and reunified the East and West Germany into a single country.
The decade also included an unusual three-candidate presidential race and a president elected by far less than a majority of voters. Meanwhile, trouble was brewing, quietly at first. The 1993 attack on the World Trade Center seems forgotten in the shadow of the horrific attacks of 2,001. Nevertheless, the 1993 attack killed six and injured more than one thousand people.
Though Americans experienced high anxiety regarding terrorism, the 1990s produced a stunning transformation due to technology. In 1990, only a small number of Americans had ever heard of the Internet. By 1999 the Internet was part of the daily life of every individual and business. This dynamic technology explosion empowered the financial world and the stock markets while masking the simmering economic problems that a few years later caused the longest recession and weakest recovery in history.
That’s the enigma that we call the 1990s. It provides a great platform for an alternate history novel.