The lives of famous individuals are often just the opposite of what they wished for themselves.
What if Adolf Hitler had realized his dream of an art career and never turned to politics? If Joan of Arc had fulfilled her prediction that she would become a wife and mother and been spared fiery martyrdom at the stake? If Judas had saved Jesus of Nazareth, Napoleon had kept Louisiana for the French, Benjamin Franklin had become a clergyman?
Imagine that Christopher Columbus actually found a sea route to Asia, his intended destination, rather than the Americas.
Phong Nguyen explores possible pasts in which icons of history made different choices -- and got what they wished for - during the official release party for his new book Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History on Tuesday, January 7, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Nguyen teaches fiction writing and American literature at the University of Central Missouri. He is editor of Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing and author of Memory Sickness and Other Stories. He directs the Unsung Masters Series, for which he edited the volume, Nancy Hale: On the Life & Work of a Lost American Master.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore. RSVP at kclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407.