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Making History [Hardcover]

Stephen Fry
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Sep 1996
This novel is in essence about briefcases, but it also explores the themes of high-energy physics and its impact on male contraception; love and the morality of joint car ownership in the late-20th century; and the consequences to world history of altering the water supply of a small Austrian well.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; 1st ed. edition (19 Sep 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091791413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091791414
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 14.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 535,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Stephen Fry is one of Britain's national treasures and his television appearances include 'A Bit Of Fry and Laurie', 'Jeeves and Wooster', 'Blackadder', 'QI' and 'Kingdom'. His film roles include 'Peter's Friends' and 'Wilde'; and in the realm of television, the Emmy-award-winning 'The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive'. As a writer, he best known for his novel The Liar as well as his acclaimed autobiography Moab Is My Washpot, and his is the famous voice of the Harry Potter audio books.

Product Description


"Stephen Fry at his twinkling best" (Sunday Times)

"His best novel yet ... an extravagant, deeply questioning work of science fiction" (GQ)

"A sci-fi comedy that is also a time-travel thriller, constantly topical and always surprising... packed with the author's personal enthusiasm and hatreds, the former red-hot and the latter icy-black" (Literary Review)

"A powerful imaginative pull that keeps the pages turning while the tea goes cold and the cat gets the goldfish" (The Independent)

"A sprightly and entertaining read" (Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A novel of ideas - comical, historical, frightening and unputdownable. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Had to keep reading! 29 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Having enjoyed both Stephen Fry's autobiography, 'Moab is my Washpot', and his first novel, 'The Liar', I expected 'Making History' to run along similar lines. How wrong I was!
I must admit, it took a few pages before I got into the story, but once I did, I couldn't stop reading it! This story is written in Stephen Fry's usual witty, rambling way, yet still manages to be a gripping read. The story's concept is that of an alternative present-day life brought about by the non-existance of Hitler. However, the way in which Fry blends events of a 'changed' history with those taking place in an alternative present, makes for a thought-provoking read. I found that I couldn't wait to find out the changes that had occurred as a result. A refreshingly different, non-boring way of learning modern history - great stuff!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 11 Dec 2007
This was the first of SF's books I had read and didn't know what to expect. I started reading it and found the first couple of chapters hard to follow and couldn't see what the book was getting at. After about the 3rd chapter I found it difficult to put this book down and finished reading it in about a week. What a far fetched but excellent idea of fact/science fiction. Couldn't recommend it any more highly.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good old bit of fun 25 Nov 2006
Nazis. Gas chambers. Mass murder. Fun? OK that's an unusual quartet but it applies here. I read this because Stephen Fry is just a genial bloke with a sharp turn of phrase,... but with trepidation as the "what if Hitler had made a couple of different decisions" idea has been explored by so many people, it couldn't be original. Wrong! Somehow Mr Fry has used a hotchpotch of familiar ideas and merged them into an original story. OK, there are some easy ways to get out of difficult situations by blaming mysterious time travel "rules" (first seen in the original Star Trek - coincidentally Mr F is a fan I believe), but over all this is an appealing take on the "what if" idea. I certainly learned a lot about Herr Schicklgruber's pre WW2 years, and surpisingly this is the content, 3 years after reading the book, that has stuck with me. If you want to learn a little about history and enjoy a "ripping yarn" (SF is truly a Python of the 21st Century) at the same time, read this silly stuff.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars self indulgent but still brilliant 2 Nov 2005
It would be easy to give up after the first few pages, when it does look rather as if a creative writing student has been ordered to Write About What You Know. But once you are used to Stephen Fry's habit of playing at length with every concept it quickly becomes engrossing. The war scenes are remarkably authentic and the modern scenes often brilliantly witty. I never really liked his lapses into film scripts as they broke up the emotional tension, reminding us forcefully that the characters are fictional. But undoubtedly he does dialogue well. Most self indulgent bit (defnintely calls for a bit of editing) is Fry's long discussion of an IT system that would be better than Microsoft. (And they said the first Star Wars prequel had a dull plot. Somehow I thought alternative reality fiction would not focus so much on word processing software.) But this is a rare lapse. The gradually emerging love story is all the more affecting because it is done with such a light hand. By the end only a first class grouch could emerge without a lump in the throat.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a pants of a read. 21 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Who else could include the lyrics of Noel Gallagher, use the 'c' word with effortless charm, and dismantle European history without sounding like a pompous old tart trying to catch the zeitgeist? Stephen Fry's 'Making History' is probably his best novel to date. It's a pants of a read. The fiendishly clever circular plot weaves a story of breathtaking originality only to bite its own tail in a brilliant piece of intellectual experiment. What if the most evil man this century were to disappear from our history books? He investigates this premise and delivers a comedy so black you'll wonder who turned the lights out. His protagonist, Michael Young (who is, of course, as gay as a basket of tulips), starts out in Fry's now customary Cambridge academic landscape as a postgraduate about to complete his history thesis ("Das Meisterwerk"). A chance meeting with Leo Zuckerman, a physics scholar, eventually sees Michael thrown across the Atlantic into an alternative reality, Princeton USA. Here he encounters bigotry, racism and a government still frozen by cold war - only this time the enemy is Europe. It's here, in the second half of the novel, that Fry really burns rubber, reinforcing Bernard Shaw's notion that England and America are indeed divided by a common language. Apart from the obvious gag count, the really memorable moments in the book are when you realise what the author is up to. Genius or smart-a*se git? He is, of course, both.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More to be said than a normal good book 22 Mar 2004
By A Customer
I first read Stephen Fry about a year ago, starting with his novel, "The Liar." The humor and interesting plot alone were more than enough to keep me reading his books, but I found the differences between "Making History" and "The Liar" to be amazing. Fry goes from writing just simply for the sake of a good story, to suddenly having a very thoughtful book, providing different views on life and the situation in Europe after the 1920s. The novel challenges your views on what is better, along with what would happen if circumstances in the past had been different.
Really, would life be better if Hitler did not exist? "Making History" says that if Hitler had not risen to power, someone else would have. And if not him, then who? Someone who would use his power better, or worse? The same situation was existing in Europe, whether Adolf Hitler were born or not.
Besides the questions that arise in the readers mind, this book has much more of interest to it. Stephen Fry has an amazing ability to turn absolutely terrible situations into laughable comedy scenes, from being left by a girlfriend, to a battle in World War I. From there he can take his humor and disperse it, such that intensity, suspense, and drama are still effected.
The characters are strange but interesting. The young Englishman, Michael, seems to dislike American styles of living, while at the same time he adopts their words and language. He tries perhaps too hard to be cool, but at the same time he truly is himself. His girlfriend, who is intolerable of just about any nonsense, a character who cannot be lured into making herself ever look stupid or foolish, seems much the type of girl Michael is likely NOT to be with.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth picking up for a few giggles
Making History, first published in 1996, is a book written by Stephen Fry, and is essentially a long and thorough answer to the question If you could go back in time and kill... Read more
Published 17 days ago by
2.0 out of 5 stars There's a good story in there somewhere.
As a 200 page book, it would have been a reasonable, if hardly original, science fiction story. Or possibly, since there's no actual explanation of the 'science' part, a... Read more
Published 18 days ago by James Wilkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Absolutely captivating and a highly recommended read for anybody with the slightest interest in Nazi Germany. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Connor
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It!!!!
Great writing style and just the right mix of humour, cleverness and history, just what you' expect from Stephen Fry. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Andi
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read.
I keep reading it again and again (and again). I hope one day Making History 2 will be written! Hopefully soon!
Published 1 month ago by Ben
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!!!
compelling, thought provoking but not at all preachy or condescending and littered with wit throughout. the descriptions of Cambridge took me back to my university days.
Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Making (and remaking) History
A very humorously written story about the very darkest of events, the attempt by history student Michael Young and scientist Professor Leo Zuckermann, to change history by ensuring... Read more
Published 2 months ago by John Hopper
5.0 out of 5 stars A***
This book is a brilliant read. Very funny. Just what you would expect form the one of the masters of comedy.
Published 3 months ago by Crystal
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books
This book has it all - plot, suspense, fantasy, history, philosophy and of course humor and tears. Stellar combination of depth and entertainment. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Olga Spirina
4.0 out of 5 stars A brief history of history.
Thoroughly enjoyable yarn,but found the screenplay sections caused a little stutter in the narrative. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dee Lawrence
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