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Alternative History Fridays: Impressing Stalin

Would Stalin wear a mind-controlling bowler?  Probably not.The war in Europe was a wrap, and President Truman turned his haberdasher’s mind to the problem of Stalin.

How do you impress a man like Uncle Joe “I’ve killed 20 million of my own people” Stalin?

Perhaps a nice bowler hat? He wondered what Stalin’s hat size was — he’d never gotten the hang of guessing. He had some of his best scientitians working on a mind control device that could be implanted into the hat. But Truman had no faith in this plan — Stalin was too paranoid to wear a gift from him.

There was the atomic bomb. If he dropped that on Japan, maybe that would scare Stalin . . . but he didn’t think so. The man was just too bloodthirsty, and he didn’t have any compunction about throwing his people into a meat grinder if he had to, so how would vaporization of his armies be any worse? Besides, then the Russians would build one, and the atomic bomb did scare the hell out of him. They were lucky that Hitler didn’t finish his before the Allies took Berlin.

No, he needed something truly shocking. Something so horrific that even Stalin would be intimidated. Truman took another sip of his bourbon and looked into the deep amber of the Kentucky sour mash. And had an inspiration.

Thus, the alcohol bomb was born — a device that could change the chemistry of alcohol and turn it into water. For an inveterate scotch-drinking psychopath like Stalin (and your humble scribe), there could be nothing more terrifying.

This is from The Skwib’s archives, and was originally inspired by this July, 2005 story in the New Scientists: Researchers think Truman did bomb Hiroshima to scare Stalin. You want funny hats. These are very funny.


  1. Devious! Save the beer.

  2. Perhaps they could build a version that destroys all higher proof alcohol and leaves the beer and wine intact.

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