I am reading a book that’s incredibly interesting, but at the same time extremely scary, and even downright chilling.

Edited by Dennis E. Showalter and Harold C. Deutsch, "If the Allies Had Fallen, Sixty Alternate Scenarios of World War II," is, just as its title implies, a look at key events of that time and how, with a different decision, thought or action here and there, they could have played out much differently, even to the point that the Allies might have lost the war.

These scenarios aren’t far-fetched. Rather, they’re extremely plausible, culled by three academic experts and written by a team of historians. These people study this stuff. They know what they’re talking about.

That’s what makes the book so compelling. It’s hard to put down.

It’s certainly something to think about, especially during the Memorial Day weekend that’s upon us. As we watch parades and honor all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to first secure our freedoms when our country was formed in 1776, and then defend and preserve them any number of times in the nearly 250 years since, we are reminded of how precious, fragile and priceless they are.

These men and women gave not only with their physical capabilities, but also with their intellectual ones as well. These wars were fought with both brawn and brains. Might and power came in both regards. One was just as important as the other in many respects. They were – and still are – indelibly linked, and the balance between them has always had to be just right, lest those freedoms be imperiled.

World War II was an important time frame in all of this. It was a beveling point in the history of the world as know it.

Indeed, as the book points out, what if:

- "One of the military attache plots to assassinate Adolph Hitler in the early spring of 1939 had been carried out successfully?

- "Joseph Stalin had heeded clear warnings of the German attack on Russia and launched a preemptive attack?

- "Hitler had striven to make allies of the Soviet people?"

- "The Japanese Navy had launched a second strike against Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941?"

- "The United States had been able to read the Japanese naval code with its message of the coming attack on Pearl Harbor?"

- "Hitler had not declared war on the United States after Pearl Harbor?"

- "General Douglas MacArthur had been left to surrender on Corregidor?"

- "The Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944 had been attempted in 1942? In 1943?"

- *In the days and weeks leading up to the Normandy invasion, the Germans had detected that ‘Operation Fortitude’ was a ruse?"

- "Hitler had permitted General Erwin Rommel to relocate his panzers near the Normandy beaches?"

- "Rommel had been present in Normandy when the attack was launched?"

- "The Allies had been repulsed on D-Day?"

- "Hitler had been killed during an assassination attempt on July 20, 1944?"

- "Hitler had not held up rocket research?"

- "The U.S. had responded favorably to Japanese peace overtures from the emperor’s entourage in late 1944 and early 1945?"

- "The United States had not bribed the Soviets to enter the Pacific war?"

- "No A-bomb had existed, or, if so, none had been dropped on Japan?"

- "A Japanese surrender had been sought by ‘demonstrating’ the A-bomb in a non-combat way?"

- "The Allies had invaded the Japanese homeland?"

- "The U.S. Navy had been fully rearmed in the 1930s and had been truly prepared in December 1941 to fight a two-ocean war?"

- "Due to critical engineering and production difficulties, the B-29 had not become operational at all in 1944?"

- "Hitler had won the war?"

- "Hitler had been able to negotiate peace with Britain in June-July 1940?"

- "Germany had conquered Britain, most probably by invasion, in the summer of 1940?"

- "Peace or an open-ended truce had been negotiated between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1942-43?"

Yes, what if….?