I, being the history dork that I am, love alternate history. I love the infinite possibilities, the looking at history from different angles etc.
But what gives the genre a bad name is when an author writes something so insanely implausible that it completely takes you out of the story.
The biggest example I can think if is David McCullough’s 1776.
I mean seriously, c’mon. We have the strongest empire on the planet get defeated by a bunch of colonialists. There are so many little things that would have to go right in order for that to happen. So many that it’s not realistic in the least bit. It goes from being a mental exercise to anti-British wankery.
Another one: The Battle of Thermopylae. On one hand we have the Persian army. Some historians say at least a million strong, and they were held off by what? A thousand Greeks at best? Heck, that entire war is so cliche redden. There is no way the Greeks could have beat the Persians, in that battle or any that followed.
Any other examples of writers forgoing logic and giving this genre a bad name?