The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick

January 2016


History is written by the victors…but what if we weren’t the victors? How might the history of America and the world look post 1945?

Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel The Man in the High Castle does a tremendous job of detailing some  key events around the World War II  years that fall in favor of the Axis powers as opposed to the Allies. These events consequently lead into an alternate history with the world under the regimes of super powers Nazi Reich and Imperial Japan. This is in stark contrast to traditional history where the United States and Soviet Union emerged as the primary global superpowers of WWII. Amazon Video has an excellent television adaptation of the novel with several notable differences. Without giving too much away, the read is well worth the time as the world we’ve come to know could very easily have been something completely different.

I was originally made aware of the television series and novel not too long ago by a friend from work. Seeing that we have numerous philosophical conversations on our daily trek down the Long Island Expressway (495), the awareness of this series was both intriguing and perplexing.  I took time to watch the series and listen/read the book simultaneously and they’re both great in their own respects.

The overwhelming question I couldn’t shake; what if this was truly reality in America during the 1960s? The 1960s in America were riled with numerous historical happenings including: The Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Muhammad Ali, the assassinations of JFK and RFK, The Cuban Missile Crisis, New York’s World Fair, Malcolm X, Super Bowl III, The Vietnam War, The British Invasion by the Beatles, Woodstock and Apollo 11 to the Moon. These are just a few major headlines to say the least. What if all that and much more never happened?

More so, the doctrine of the Nazi regime was primarily centered around supremacy of the Nordic Aryan race, evident from the Holocaust and other atrocities detailed in the Nuremberg Trials. The United States has serious racial and societal issues, as it is today in 2016, would there even be multiple races and religions in this country had the Axis won? How would Japan’s control of the Western United States influence the demographics and advances we’ve seen from tech sector over the last 30 years?

It’s hard to imagine what life would have been like had the Axis won WWII, just like its hard to imagine what America would have been like had the Confederates won the Civil War or what would be of the world if Alexander Fleming didn’t accidentally leave a Petri dish open resulting in the accidental discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin. Seemingly trivial acts or circumstantial outcomes we take for granted drastically influenced the world we live in today.

There are so many variations of the world today that could have been reality had a few events went just a little differently. The ironic takeaway is that while this is a fiction novel written of a very possible alternate history, we are currently writing the actual history for tomorrow.

The actions we take today will alter the course of history in one way or another.

How will our handling of the student loan crisis change the landscape of America’s finance and stability in the future? How will our reaction to North Korea’s testing of hydrogen bombs factor into another Great War or avoidance of one? How will the outcome of the upcoming presidential election affect the landscape of America’s position in International relations? How will the Cubs winning the World Series alter sports and entertainment…(Oh they still haven’t won anything since 1908??… sports are safe – I digress).

What are we doing today that will make the alternates of our actions and decisions create such paradoxical realities of days to come that our future selves and descendants wouldn’t fathom a world where this ‘reality’ could be a possibility?

We’re writing history, how do you want it to read? You decide. 


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