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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Had to keep reading!
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...
Published on 29 Nov. 2001

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mmmm
Well, to start with I must say I like Fry in general - film, TV, writing, and I've read pretty much all fiction he's done so far.
"Making History"... Well, from the expressive means point of view there's nothing in particular: it's about as straightforward as Dan Brown. Similarly, the plot is bland and painfully predictable, putting it firmly on par with other...
Published on 1 Nov. 2011 by Paul


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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
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good old bit of fun, 25 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 11 Dec. 2007
By 
Mrs. C. Large (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars self indulgent but still brilliant, 2 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More to be said than a normal good book, 9 Jan. 2005
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
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 simply for the sake of a good story, to 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 had existed in Europe at that time, whether Adolf Hitler had been born or not.
Besides the questions that arise in the reader's 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 brought into effect.
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. Perhaps the turn or events in the second half of the novel explains this, or perhaps just simply their age difference could be enough. Any character can be a complete cliché, while at the same time being a separate individual, another intriguing aspect into Fry's writing.
This is easily one of the best alternate history novels to be found anywhere. This is an excellent read, even for people who do not wish to trouble themselves with books that make them think. The story is amazing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, light-weight and highly enjoyable., 24 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
Having never read any of Stephen Fry's novels before I have to say I was surprised by how accomplished a writer he really is. The novel is pretty long at well over five hundred pages, but manages to remain extremely quick and light-weight reading throughout, with Fry's trademark sparkling wit lending the whole thing an admittedly slightly self-indulgent but nonetheless very intelligent tone.
The story is an extremely well thought through peice of sci-fi working around the old question of whether or not it would be justifiable to kill Hitler before he had a chance to commit his attroticies. There's a good understanding of history present here though and Fry avoids over simplifying his portayal of the people and the time, in fact lending the whole thing a great deal more complexity then most writers would have. The principle character is very relatable, he's sympathetic for all the same reasons as a Douglas Adams character but is very much Fry's creation and a protagonist who the reader can't help but like.
The story has enough thematic intricacies and philosophical questions to keep hardcore sci-fi fans satisfied but remains highly accessible throughout and as such never excludes the reader regardless of their personal taste and preferences.
This is an inventive little sci-fi adventure that should keep both newcomers and stalwart fans of the genre entertained for all of it's pretty considerable length. Definitely one to check out if you get the chance.
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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
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
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. Perhaps the turn or events in the second half of the novel explains this, or perhaps just simply their age difference could be enough. Any character can be a complete cliché, while at the same time being a separate individual, another intriguing aspect into Fry's writing.
This is easily one of the best alternate history novels to be found anywhere. This is an excellent read, even for people who do not wish to trouble themselves with books that make them think. The story is amazing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The clue's in the title, 17 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
The reviews below are an excellent summary of the plot and the pleasure of the read but here's my two pennies worth:
Let me tell you a bit about how clever the book is. And then, when I'm done telling you how clever it is, I'm going to tell you just how *clever* it is.
It's the plot, the language, the playing with history (don't be too put off - I only got a Grade 2 CSE but I kept up OK) and the playing with the reader that makes it such a great read.
Enjoy!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Stephen Fry were straight, I'd marry him, 9 Jan. 2007
By 
S. Bailey "will work for books" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
I absolutely adore this book. Only Stephen Fry could take something quite so clichéd as counterfactual history and make it simultaneously thought-provoking and side-splitting.

Cambridge historian Michael Young has finished his thesis on Hitler's early life; sadly, it's not quite all his supervisor would have hoped, being largely a fictional narrative of what Michael imagines young Adolf's life might have been. Collisions first with his girlfriend's new invention, a male contraceptive pill, and then Leo Zuckerman, the son of an SS officer posing as the Jewish developer of a time machine, lead Michael to hatch an infernal plot to ensure that Hitler never existed.

Well, you knew it wouldn't be as simple as that. The world without Hitler turns out to have been much worse, and Michael discovers that he's gay in a world where his love most definitely does not dare to speak its name. Michael can put the world back like he found it, or he can stand by his man, but not, apparently, both.

No doubt there are some deep thoughts to be had here about the nature of history, causality and human free will, but you wouldn't notice because Fry's only real nod to academia is to satirise it. Instead, he concerns himself with the comedy and the pathos, producing something bizarrely compelling.
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17 of 19 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
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
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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Making History
Making History by Stephen Fry (Paperback - 5 Aug. 2004)
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