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An encyclopedia of Robert Sobel's alternate history For Want of a Nail that anyone can edit!

For Want of a NailEdit

For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga is one of the classic works of alternate history. In it, business historian Robert Sobel wrote about an alternate world where the American Revolution was unsuccessful. However, instead of writing a novel set in an alternate timeline, Sobel chose to write a history book from an alternate timeline. The result is a history of an alternate North American continent from 1763 to 1971, including all the scholarly apparatus of an academic work: footnotes, a bibliography, three appendices, a map, an index, a preface by the author (an alternate Robert Sobel), and a critique by Professor Frank Dana, a hostile historian.

The book's point of divergence from our own history is a British victory at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777, leading to defeat for the American colonists in the American Revolutionary War, which is known in the alternate history as the North American Rebellion. Afterwards, the defeated colonies are reorganized into the Confederation of North America, a dominion of the British Empire that gradually gains complete autonomy over the next sixty years. Meanwhile, the defeated rebels leave the colonies to settle in northern Mexico, where they found the State of Jefferson. In 1820, Jefferson and Mexico merge to form the United States of Mexico. For Want of a Nail then follows the histories of these two North American nations as they interact with each other and with the rest of a changed world, down to the time of the book's publication in the early 1970s.


Like any history book, For Want of a Nail references thousands of people, places, events, and organizations, most of which are unique to the alternate history it describes. The Sobel Wiki exists to serve as an encyclopedia of this richly-detailed alternate world.

Although most of the articles are written from an in-universe point of view, they can also contain italicised information from the point of view of someone in our world (IOW).

For All NailsEdit

In 2001, a number of alternate history enthusiasts at the soc.history.what-if Usenet newsgroup (including Sobel Wiki creator Johnny Pez) joined together in the For All Nails project: to extend the Sobel Timeline past its original 1971 terminus, and to correct the various errors, contradictions, and improbabilities that For Want of a Nail suffers from. The result was a series of over 350 Usenet posts, mostly narrative vignettes of life in the Sobel Timeline, but also including newpaper and magazine articles, letters, and vitavision transcripts. Dan McDonald, one of the participants, began archiving the posts at his website, but real life intervened, as it so often does, and the archive remains incomplete. In order to remedy this deficiency, the Sobel Wiki includes a second archive of For All Nails posts here.

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Omar Kinkaid

Senator Omar Kinkaid.

The 1869 Mexican elections took place in August 1869 for the purpose of choosing the President and Congress of the United States of Mexico. It was the first election to be held after passage of the 1864 Presidential Election Amendment allowed for the direct election of the President. The result was the election of Senator Omar Kinkaid of the Continentalist Party.

Incumbent President Arthur Conroy had been pursuing increasingly radical reforms during his two terms in office. This aroused the opposition of most of his fellow Continentalists, including Senate Majority Leader Oscar Barkley of Jefferson and Senator Kinkaid of California. Both Barkley and Kinkaid were the beneficiaries of financial support from wealthy businessmen, the former from petroleum magnate Monte Benedict, and the latter from Bernard Kramer of the newly-formed transportation consortium Kramer Associates. At a meeting of the Continentalist caucus in July 1869, Conroy declined to run for a third term, instead supporting the candidacy of his Secretary of State, Lorenzo Días of Durango. However, Kramer and Benedict had agreed beforehand to support Kinkaid's candidacy, and Kinkaid won easily in the first ballot. Conroy reacted to Kinkaid's victory by saying, "I knew Kramer had power, but I did not realize its extent." (read more)

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