[[quoteright:335:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/2flags_9651.png]]
[[caption-width-right:335:The Confederation of North America versus the United States of Mexico]]

''For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga'' by economic historian Robert Sobel is a 1973 AlternateHistory textbook that details the counterfactual trials and tribulations of the North American continent from 1763 to 1971. It's considered a TropeCodifier, if not the TropeMaker, of more hard-nosed approaches to alternate history that move away from the outlandish geopolitical shenanigans in works like TheManInTheHighCastle [[note]]where Nazi Germany has filled in the Mediterranean and split the United States with Japan[[/note]] or ''Literature/BringTheJubilee'' [[note]]a book that features a Confederate States of America that took over all of the nations south of it[[/note]]. The book eschews any conventional fictional story, and embraces alternate history for its own sake, serving as an inspiration for writing communities like AlternateHistoryDotCom (which is especially evident from the [[http://web.archive.org/web/20010312172615/http://www.alternatehistory.com/gateway/reviews/FWOAN-review.html glowing review]] it received from Ian the Admin, the site's founder.) The book also won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History (Special Achievement category) in 1997.

The PointOfDivergence is the arrival of reinforcements for British General Horatio Gates during the Battle of Saratoga, which turns the tide of the American Revolutionary War to the favor of the United Kingdom, which then stamps out the rebellion. Afterward, the colonies are reorganized into the more centralized and autonomous Confederation of North America (CNA), while thousands of revolutionaries that weren't executed or imprisoned sojourn westward, founding the nation of Jefferson in the place Texas would have been. Under the charismatic yet steady leadership of AndrewJackson, it unifies with the neighboring Republic of Mexico to create the United States of Mexico (USM) in 1820. The new republic is soon embroiled in a continental power struggle with the Confederation of North America.

Although historical figures factor heavily in the beginning, such as ThomasEdison essentially inventing most modern technology, there are also new faces in the CNA and the USM, such as the idealistic automobile mogul Owen Galloway and the histrionic liberal governor Richard Mason, the nepotistic narcissist Benito Hermíon, as well as the [[MagnificentBastard bastardy]] CorruptCorporateExecutive Bernard Kramer who leads his company Kramer Associates in attaining dizzying heights of power. Throughout this entire book, one finds that two hundred years of history becomes a lot more interesting when you don't know what happens next.

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!!This book provides examples of:

* AllohistoricalAllusion: [[spoiler: Benito Hermíon, the first Mexican dictator, share a first name with Benito Mussolini.]]
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: InUniverse the American "rebels", George Washington especially, who has his character and competency lambasted by the unsympathetic (alternate persona) of the author.
* AlternateHistory: A TropeCodifier work of the genre, see below.
* AlternateTechline: Before 1903, the people of this world have cars; however, they don't develop nuclear weapons until 1962.
* AmbitionIsEvil: Subverted, as some of the ambitious characters merely go onto become pragmatic and competent leaders. Although there are shades of this with Bernard Kramer.
* AmericaSavesTheDay: Subverted. Neither the Confederation of North America or the United States of Mexico does anything akin to the United States of America's entry into UsefulNotes/WorldWarI or UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, as the former mostly stays neutral and the latter is merely prone to opportunistic land grabs.
* AmericaTakesOverTheWorld: Although the book is centered on this region, it seems as though the equivalent of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar for this timeline takes place between two superpowers on the North American continent, perhaps even three if one counts [[MegaCorp Kramer Associates]] due to their Mexican origins.
* AndrewJackson: The first president of the United States of Mexico.
* AnyOneCanDie: And not just because it covers so much history. [[spoiler: Among them Governor of the North Confederation Daniel Webster, Indianan Grand Council member Dudley Graves, and two Mexican presidents: Pedro Hermión and Omar Kinkaid.]]
* AuthorAppeal: Precise economic details and systems, [[JustifiedTrope appropriate]] because this is the field that the author is a professional in, both InUniverse and out.
* AuthorAvatar: Robert Sobel, who is also an economic historian in this timeline as well.
* BalkanizeMe: Quito and Rio Negro both secede from Brazil when it gained independence following the Trans-Oceanic War.
* BananaRepublic: [[spoiler: The United States of Mexico becomes one:]] Populist dictator? Check. [[spoiler: Latin American? Check. Controlled by a multinational corporation? Double check.]]
* BombThrowingAnarchists: Vaguely alluded to during the 1880s, where revolutionaries are essentially looters and pillagers that cause considerable turbulence in Europe during the “Bloody Eighties”.
* CallARabbitASmeerp: “Vitavision” for television, “locomobile” for the automobile, and so on.
* CheeseEatingSurrenderMonkeys: France easily capitulates to German invasion during the Global War.
* CityOfSpies: Michigan City was crawling with Mexican spies out to steal nuclear secrets until they were busted in 1969.
* {{Climax}}: The Rocky Mountain War is one of sorts, as it occurs about midway in the book and is the only time in the story where [[spoiler: the CNA and USM are in an actual shooting war between each other.]]
* CoattailRidingRelative: [[spoiler: Benito Hermíon in relation to his father, Pedro Hermíon.]]
* UsefulNotes/ColdWar: Has an analog in the "War Without War", which pits the CNA against the USM.
* CommieLand: {{Averted}} entirely as far as we know, which implies that in our timeline, the United States indirectly contributed to the creation of [[CreateYourOwnVillain the Soviet Union.]]
* ConspicuouslyPublicAssassination: [[spoiler: Pedro Hermíon is subject to one in 1851.]]
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Some of the actions taken by Kramer Associates leaders are somewhat shady.
* {{Dystopia}}: The United States of Mexico has shades of it. For instance, slavery doesn't get abolished there until 1920 and [[spoiler: it was a PoliceState with the backing of a MegaCorp in the intervening years.]]
* CultColony: Manitoba is a beacon for Utopian philosophers and radicals of all stripes... yet remains the land without politics.
* CultOfPersonality: One springs up around [[spoiler: Pedro Hermíon following his death.]]
* DecidedByOneVote: In the CNA, the People's Coalition only won a majority in the Grand Council by two seats in the 1938 elections.
* DeepSouth: The Southern Confederation in the CNA, appropriately enough.
* DividedStatesOfAmerica: The continental United States of America never comes to be, and thus what would have been its territory is divided between the Confederation of North America and the United States of Mexico.
* DoomedMoralVictor: Washington and his revolutionaries, from an American point of view.
* DownerBeginning: From an American point of view, as John Adams, Sam Adams, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, Robert Paine and Roger Sherman are all executed, while George Washington is sentenced to life in prison.
* DracoInLeatherPants: InUniverse, Robert Sobel is accused of doing this to Kramer Associates (and the CNA) as a whole.
* {{Eagleland}}: The Confederation of North America is mostly a Type 1, while the United States of Mexico falls hard into a Type 2.
* EasilyConqueredWorld: The Russian Empire during the Great Northern War, which has Alaska and Siberia taken from it in the course of two years by the increasingly powerful United States of Mexico. France also falls into this trope during the Global War.
* EthnicMenialLabor: A staple of the United States of Mexico.
* EqualOpportunityEvil: It's subtle, but [[spoiler: the Mexican dictatorship is led by Benito Hermíon, a part of the Hispano minority, and Bernard Kramer, a German immigrant.]]
* EverythingIsBigInTexas: Texas, here called Jefferson, is the place where the American Revolutionaries sojourn after their uprising is crushed.
* FalseFlagOperation: Features into many of the political machinations in the book.
* FanFiction: Primarily embodied in the ''For Want of All Nails'' web project. (Found here: http://www.kebe.com/for-all-nails/ )
* FantasyConflictCounterpart: The Global War for UsefulNotes/WorldWarII and conditions similar to the Cold War are present in the rivalry between the CNA and the USM.
* FantasyWorldMap: There's a map in the frontispiece of the book, which makes it reminiscent in purpose and placement of this trope. (Seen here: [[http://static1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130208010529/fwoan/images/b/b3/Sobel.jpg]].) Some fans regard it as dubious because a few details contradict those in the the book; at least one fan has gone to the trouble of making their own version ([[http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_OU9Nfqi6PdA/TPOsNYQRlxI/AAAAAAAAAPY/OQprzu_8eL0/s1600/FWOAN.png]].
* {{Fiction500}}: Kramer Associates' executives.
* FictionalCounterpart: The United Workers of the World, compared to the RealLife International Workers of the World. The same also applies to the Confederation Bureau of Investigation.
* FictionalDocument: All over the place, with extensive footnotes to dozens upon dozens of (fictitious) works.
* FictionalPoliticalParty: For the CNA there was or is the (Unified) Liberals, the (National) Conservatives, and the People's Coalition. Meanwhile the USM has the Continentalist, Liberty, United Mexican and Progressive parties, with divergent periods of mainstream establishment due to the chaotic politics of the country.
* FlyoverCountry: In the CNA, the Confederations of Indiana, Northern and Southern Vandalia ([[AndZoidberg and Manitoba]]) all qualify as this.
* ForWantOfANail: Without the success of the American Revolution, there is no French Revolution, and it's thus implied that the edge of radical revolutionary politics was dulled in this world. Socialism has marginal influence, fascism seems to have never come to be, and there is no analog to the Soviet Union.
* FootnoteFever: An important part of its verisimilitude and flavor.
* FounderOfTheKingdom: Republic, more like, but Andrew Jackson is this for Mexico.
* FullCircleRevolution: [[spoiler: The United States of Mexico escapes from the yoke of British oppression... to later become one of the most oppressive regimes on the face of the planet.]]
* FramingDevice: An undergraduate history book... [[AlternateHistory from a world where history went a little bit differently.]]
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Bernard Kramer went from an immigrant miner to a CorruptCorporateExecutive who is responsible for [[spoiler: installing a dictator in Mexico.]]
* GovernmentAgencyOfFiction: The Confederation Bureau of Investigation, among others.
* GovernmentInExile: The Revolutionaries, who go onto found the Republic of Jefferson (which becomes the USM).
* GreyAndGrayMorality: Part of what gives this book verisimilitude is its restrained portrayal of the morality of both sides despite some InUniverse AuthorAppeal.
* GuiltComplex: Governor-General Richard Mason has a big one for the CNA's sidestepping of the Global War, which informs his foreign policy.
* HegemonicEmpire: The British Empire, naturally.
* HeroWithBadPublicity: The CNA under the governorship of Richard Mason donated tons of money abroad, for which they get almost no appreciation.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: There are some mostly in the earlier part of the book that get prominent roles, but this tapers off towards the end.
* HistoricalHeroUpgrade: Thomas Edison develops this world's versions of television, the automobile and “airmobile” before 1903.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: InUniverse accusations are lodged at the author for making the leaders of the United States of Mexico slightly more incompetent and immoral in contrast to the Confederation of North America.
* HitlersTimeTravelExemptionAct: Yet another notable ''aversion'', because nothing like the Holocaust ever takes place and there is never anyone even remotely as bad as Hitler described in the book.
* HonestCorporateExecutive: Owen Galloway is portrayed as one to some extent.
* InsistentTerminology: It's the "North American Rebellion", not the AmericanRevolution.
* InSpiteOfANail: Andrew Jackson still becomes president of a United States, Karl Marx has the same economic philosophy and Thomas Edison is an inventor. Germany still unifies in some fashion and bests France in a war that takes place in the late 19th Century, before the Russian Empire collapses in the early 20th Century.
* IstanbulNotConstantinople: New Grenada remains, in lieu of Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela.
* KangarooCourt: The Constabulary in trying alleged Moralistas, who would be detained in internment camps after being found guilty.
* [[Creator/KarlMarx Karl Marx]]: Appears with a largely identical worldview, but with less influence in comparison to other philosophers.
* KarmaHoudini: Bernard Kramer and his successors.
* KingIncognito: [[spoiler: Deposed Emperor Hermíon when he flees the palace after its surrounded with Kramer Associates' sponsored soldiers.]]
* LaResistance: The perpetrators of the American Revolution, who don't see their goals achieved.
* LandslideElection: The CNA's 1933 Grand Council elections featured the Liberal Party snatching up 104 seats, and the People's Coalition only taking the 46 that remained.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: In addition to the title of the RealLife book, the InUniverse name for it (''Scorpions in a Bottle'') is a reference to a speech made by Pedro Hermión about the continental rivalry between the Confederation of North America and the United States of Mexico.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Dozens of characters come in and out of focus, which is [[JustifiedTrope understandable]] considering it covers approximately two centuries of history.
* MalcolmXerox: Philip Harrison, founder of Black Justice, who wanted to wage war against the other races and found a separate state for black people, before dying in a gun battle in 1948.
* ManBehindTheMan: Bernard Kramer, who [[spoiler: set up Benito Hermíon as dictator.]] and his successor, Diego Cortez y Catalán, who [[spoiler: has the real power during Benito Hermíon's reign, and later ousts him.]]
* MeaningfulName: [[spoiler: [[BenitoMussolini ''Benito'']] Hermíon.]]
* MegaCorp: Kramer Associates.
* MenDontCry: Averted by Governor-General Richard Mason.
* MiddleEasternCoalition: Following the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire as well as the Global War, the Middle East remains unified under the German protectorate of Arabia.
* MilitaryCoup: Happens in the [[spoiler: United States of Mexico.]]
* NamesTheSame: The Great Depression, only it takes place from 1880 to 1882, corresponding more with the economic downturn experienced in our timeline during the 1890s.
* NaturalizedName: Bernard Kramer, a German immigrant who became a world-class Mexican industrialist, can be inferred to have this.
* NGOSuperpower: Kramer Associates, which is treated as its own world-class power later on in the book and [[spoiler: even develops nuclear weapons before anyone else in the world.]]
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Granted, this is alternate history, but Owen Galloway has many parallels with Henry Ford in particular as an innovative industrialist in the automobile business with a large public platform.
* NoHuggingNoKissing: Justified because this is essentially an overview of history, but one could plausibly assume almost all of the main characters are bachelors.
* NouveauRiche: Bernard Kramer and his successors qualify as this.
* OneBookAuthor: Of a sort, as Robert Sobel never revisited this world or the AlternateHistory genre in his career as an economic historian before [[AuthorExistenceFailure he died in 1999]].
* OneFederationLimit: ''The Confederation'' of North America and the ''United States'' of Mexico.
* OneManIndustrialRevolution: Thomas Edison.
* OneNationUnderCopyright: Kramer Associates have ''de facto'' control over Taiwan, the Philippines, Brazil, Argentina and likely other nations; Mexico was also this for a while.
* OppressiveStatesOfAmerica: [[spoiler: The United States of Mexico]] gains a PoliceState.
* PerfectPacifistPeople: {{Downplayed}}, but the Confederation of North America only fights one notable war in the two centuries of its existence.
* PleaseSelectNewCityName: Fort Pitt (and possibly all of Pittsburgh) is renamed Burgoyne, and becomes the capital of the Confederation of North America.
* PointOfDivergence: As it's printed on the cover, "if Burgoyne had won at Saratoga".
* PoliceState: A type of governance that [[spoiler: the USM]] finds it hard to shake away.
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: In addition to the questionable nature of Andrew Jackson championing a multiethnic Mexican republic, James Billington serves as the black governor-general of the CNA from 1950 to 1953, and the author notes that he heard no substantive criticism based on his race.
* PragmaticVillainy: Kramer Associates, whose support of [[spoiler: the Benito Hermíon dictatorship]] fluctuates according to how much it benefits them.
* PresidentEvil: [[spoiler: Benito Hermíon is a (dubiously) elected leader of the USM, and his goal soon escalates into a plot to TakeOverTheWorld.]]
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: Again, {{downplayed}}, nonetheless the United States of Mexico is frequently bellicose and prone to foreign interventionism.
* {{Quebec}}: Becomes a more or less self-ruling associated state of the CNA in 1889.
* QueenVicky: Shows up in the timeline briefly.
* RagsToRiches: Bernard Kramer goes from being a miner immigrant to founding one of the most successful corporations in all of this world's history.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: When they aren't being overly idealistic, the leaders of the Confederation of North America tend to be this.
* RecursiveCanon: The book exists within its own world as “Scorpions in a Bottle”, by the same author.
* RebelLeader: UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington is chief among them.
* RichardNixonTheUsedCarSalesman: Abraham Lincoln appears briefly as a railroad lawyer.
* RonTheDeathEater: The author does this to the United States of Mexico, as well as the American revolutionaries, according to InUniverse critique of the author.
* SchizoTech: A subtle example, but one reviewer noted that there are televisions before there are nuclear weapons, despite the interdependent nature of these technologies' development.
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney: Kramer Associates, frequently.
* SecretPolice: The Constabulary in the United States of Mexico.
* SelfMadeMan: Bernard Kramer (see RagsToRiches above).
* ShownTheirWork: Much of the statistics and descriptions of economic processes in the book clearly show the author's professional background in the subject, especially when it comes to innovative programs like the National Financial Administration in the CNA.
* SlaveLiberation: Is delayed in Mexico until ''1920''.
* SlidingScaleofAlternateHistoryPlausibility: A Type 1, with no obvious AlternateHistoryWank or clear instances of AlienSpaceBats.
* SlidingScaleofGenderInequality: Level 1, as there are very scarce mentions to women at all in the work.
* SpaceFillingEmpire: Germany could be considered an example of this, having most of continental Europe and the former Ottoman Empire under its rule after the Global War.
* StrawmanPolitical: Erich Neiderhoffer describes his plan for workers to buy out their own plants like this: “no one would be an exploiter, everyone would be an exploiter”.
** Governor-General Richard Mason is a Liberal who describes his aid to other countries as motivated by guilt, while being prone to breaking down and crying. His critics are described as "the only sober people at a drunken orgy, trying to discuss serious matters with individuals in a state of advanced inebriation."
* TakeOverTheWorld: The aim of [[spoiler: Mexican Emperor Benito Hermíon]].
* TheAlliance: Subverted, because the CNA avoids entering the Global War in arms with the United Kingdom (likewise with Spain, who declares neutrality despite a pre-existing alliance).
* TheBadGuyWins: Not necessarily the 'bad guy', but more of the 'antagonist' in the perspective of Americans, as the British Empire succeeds in crushing the American Revolution.
* TheCommonwealthOfNations: A parallel to it arises in the United British Commonwealth of Nations.
* TheEmpire: [[spoiler: Mexico becomes this under Benito Hermíon.]]
** Imperial Germany succeeds in conquering most of continental Europe during the Global War, although they've been met with some widespread opposition a few decades into their rule.
* TheEmperor: [[spoiler: Benito Hermíon declares himself this over Mexico.]]
* TheFederation: The British Empire, primarily through the Confederation of North America, is portrayed like this. It becomes only more so with the 1906 foundation of the United British Commonwealth of Nations.
* TheGeneralissimo: [[spoiler: Benito Hermíon fits this trope to a T.]]
* TheMigration: The Wilderness Walk qualifies as one, which is a mass exodus of American revolutionaries to Mexico who founded what would become the USM.
** The Galloway Plan also counts, wherein the disaffected peoples of the CNA were urged to migrate westward with generous financial backing.
* ThePlague: An influenza epidemic occurs during the Global War, piling onto the misery.
* TheRepublic: The CNA acts like this throughout the story, generally favoring more progressive policies than their westward counterpart.
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: There are only three named female characters in the entire book, none of which have very significant roles. Women's suffrage within the CNA, given in 1908, is also only addressed in a footnote.
* TheTheocracy: From what we know, this is averted like it is with [[CommieLand "communist"]] or fascist nations.
* TheWildWest: The United States of Mexico takes on a wild west character for most of its history due to its location and founding ideology.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: Much of the action described in the Bloody Eighties.
* ThomasEdison: A more prolific inventor in this universe.
* TropeCodifier: For hard-nosed AlternateHistory written like a non-fiction work, with extensive enumeration of a truly divergent timeline.
* UnexpectedSuccessor: James Billington to Bruce Hogg for the General-Governorship of the CNA, not only because Billington was black, but because Perry Jay was seemingly groomed for the succession by Hogg before he suffered his massive stroke.
* UnitedEurope: With the exception of the United Kingdom, Spain and a few others, Germany has successfully unified Europe after the Global War.
* UnreliableNarrator: Frank Dana, in his InUniverse critique of the book, implies that Robert Sobel may be one.
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: The executives of Kramer Associates, implied to be InUniverse AuthorAppeal.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: Diego Cortez y Catalán to [[spoiler: “Emperor” Hermíon.]]
* YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters: One of the draws of the book is how the author views the American Revolution in a society where it failed, as he is obviously more critical of them.
* WeAllLiveInAmerica: The RealLife American author Robert Sobel depicts a parliamentary system... [[FridgeLogic that draws up impeachment measures in lieu of a vote of no confidence.]]
** This is a case of RealityIsUnrealistic, as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom ''can'' be impeached. Nonetheless, its [[BoringButPractical more practical and common to just hold a vote of no confidence.]]
* WhamEpisode: [[spoiler: The assassination of Pedro Hermíon.]]
** [[spoiler: The assumption of power by his son could count as well.]]
* WideEyedIdealist: Many of the CNA's politicians fall into this trope.
* WikiRule: Can be found here: http://fwoan.wikia.com/wiki/Sobel_Wiki
* WitchHunt: See KangarooCourt above.
* WriterOnBoard: An InUniverse example, as the alternate Robert Sobel is an Australian that resides in Taiwan; the latter is essentially a Kramer Associates protectorate and the former is party to the United British Commonwealth of Nations. As such he frames Kramer Associates and the CNA in a rosy light, in comparison to the United States of Mexico.
* WrittenByTheWinners: The Confederation of North America, as noted above, doesn't see the United States' founding fathers in a particularly favorable light.