Author Phong Nguyen reads from his latest book, Pages from The Textbook of Alternate History, at today’s Mongoose versus Cobra Reading Series. “It is a book of stories that concern characters from history who, in these alternate histories, fulfilled their first ambitions,” said Nguyen via email. Often, the course of the world is shaped not only by the successes of powerful men and women, but also by their failures. Would America be the land it is today if Christopher Columbus had successfully found a Western sea route to Asia instead of landing on the Bahamas? How would the world have been different if Adolf Hitler had made it into art school or if Joan of Arc had decided to become a mother instead of a holy warrior? Nguyen has some ideas.