When I first became interested in alternate history in high school, one of the early books I read was The Domination and its sequel Drakon, both of which are part of S.M. Stirling's Draka series. The series is controversial in the AH community--although it's considered one of the major founding texts of the sub-genre (alongside Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South, which is more a time-travel story ), its plausibility is somewhat lacking to say the least. Stirling himself said the point of the series is that everything that can go wrong does.
On the forum, the user whose handle is reddie suggested a "realistic quasiDraka"--a cold war between the United States and "the apartheid juggernaut" (a sort of super-South Africa under white minority rule). That got the creative wheels turning. I wrote an embryonic timeline that served as both a homage to and critique of the Draka world and within a few years wrote "Coil Gun" (my first professional sale; it first appeared in Pressure Suite: Digital Science Fiction #3) and later "Picking Up Plans in Palma." I've got some ideas for additional short stories and even a trilogy of novels depicting the events of WWIII from the perspectives of, among others, some (surviving) cast members of "Palma," but I'm focused on other projects right now.
However, since SM Stirling has the appendices and timeline from the three books that went into The Domination available online, here's the current version of the timeline where the two stories take place. It's still a bit patchy in places and it's a work in progress. After all, this is the sixth iteration of the timeline and I might well end up making a seventh, especially if I end up writing novels set in the universe.
*Although a point of divergence in the late 16th Century might "butterfly" the United States completely, I still need it to be there for story reasons. However, we have a completely different cast of Founding Fathers and a very different war. The same with the U.S. Civil War.
*One of the first major enemies the Afrikaners face is the Sultanate of Oman. They don't get a lot of notice in most histories I've read, but they get their due here. And having taken a class where Oman's history was explored in greater depth, I'm revising that aspect of the story. Hint: Just because two nations are enemies at one point doesn't mean they can't become allies later, especially if one experiences a major problem.
*The French Revolution isn't corrupted or ultimately repressed. However, there is a proto-fascist Bourbon pretender who causes trouble later. Furthermore, the French ally/puppet the Batavian Republic remains in existence for much longer than in our history. Although I haven't integrated that into the existing TL or v.7.0, basically the Dutch East India Company forsakes Amsterdam for Cape Town, giving the Afrikaners the Netherlands' Asian possessions right away. This helps explain their rapid expansion, which the disease environment in Africa would make very, very difficult to say the least.
*The 1848 revolutions are much, much more successful. However, that doesn't mean the French Republic and the newly-united Germany are going to be friends...
*There's a more successful analogue to the Taiping Rebellion. Thanks to the influence of the Afrikaners, it's more orthodox in its beliefs. Instead of being Jesus's brother, the leader of the rebellion believes himself to be something akin to Jehu, only called by God to destroy the Qing Dynasty rather than the House of Ahab.
*There's still a Soviet Union, but Leon Trotsky ultimately succeeds Lenin and not Stalin. Why I use real-life personalities for this when I don't for the American Revolution or Civil War is beyond me. This will require some changes...
*Project Orion. Oh yes. If you want more information, here's a really cool book.