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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Idea Well Executed, 26 July 2009
By 
Steve Farr (Warwick, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
Ever since reading Philip K Dick's Man In The High Castle I have been interested in the counter histroical novel and the Second World War has always been a good time to set such a book.

Stephen Fry carries this off really well, without going into a massive amount of detail on the results of the changes, he instead concentrates on the means, to much good effect. There is also a fascinating, although not necessarily accurate, picture of the young Adolf Hitler. The sub-text being, thank god he was a bit of an idiot.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply put, one of the best books I've read, 30 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
I have the utmost respect for Stephen Fry as an actor, comedian, a person, and now an author. This is the only book I have ever read in a day from start to finish.
Having never read a book by Fry I wasn't sure how he would deal with such a potentially moving subject, whether he would blazen it in his trademark wit or write in a solely serious manner, yet somehow he manages both with effortless ease. The characters are beautifully believable and the factual parts suprisingly accurate. I also found the book strangely moving, but I find anything to do with Hitler, the Holocaust, etc. strangely moving. It will surely be made into a film at some stage simplified by parts of the text in film script.
Overall, as you may have guessed, I book I would recommend without hesitation to anyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating exploration of what might have been . . ., 24 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
Fry explores the question that we all sometimes wonder: how would the last century have turned out if Hitler hadn't been born? The sci-fi techniques involved in achieving that aim are a somewhat unlikely, but somehow it's credible that Cambridge dons are bright enough to achieve the impossible. The altered world that Fry portrays is entirely realistic. I won't give away any details but it is a fascinating example of how totally unlikely the real world is. The chances of the world ending up as it is today are tiny, and random events such as the birth of Hitler were absolutely necessary for the modern world to be moulded as it is. Most young Britons alive today are only in existence because of the Second World War. Without it, and the subsequent 'baby boom' generation, there would be no Amazon.co.uk, possibly even no Internet. A whole different population would have been born into a different world, and morals, prejudices, and thinking would all be changed. The only thing this book ignores (which it has to for dramatic reasons) is that the hero wouldn't actually exist without Hitler, and that when he 'makes history' he would really be 'unmaking' himself, but that wouldn't be much of a story, so full marks to Stephen Fry for creating a convincing and enjoyable narrative that overcomes these drawbacks. Highly recommended page turner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice entertaining read..., 31 Aug 2009
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
A: None of what follows ever happens
B: All of what follows is entirely true
The story lived up to both the statements said right at the beginning.

Fry's writing style keeps you moving from page after page even it were a lot of rumblings. If Hitler wasn't born - the alternative history was interesting. Time machine dead lock of going back and forth keeps your grey matter alive for a while. Touch of timely comedy gives it a relaxing read. Fry's language out shines the science nooks of infertility tablet and time machine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beatiful, moving story - with sci-fi and jokes too!, 18 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
What the other reviewers don't mention is how moving this book is. It may be a highly competent sci-fi alternative history story. It may have many literary allusions and witty jokes in it, all things one can expect from Stephen Fry. But the core of it (for me at least) is that it is a very touching and affecting love story. Making History can be many things to many people, and therefore I would recommend without reservation it to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Somebody chain this man to a desk and make him write books every day!, 15 May 2009
By 
Ms. A. Busby "Andrea" (Bradford, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
I read this book on a long coach journey and found it so absorbing that five hours passed without me hardly noticing. When I did look up from the book I half expected to see all the road signs in German and nazi soldiers patrolling the motorway service station.
Fry is such a good writer. His use of language is effortless and his ability to tell a story pours from each page. Buy This Book!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making History, 29 Mar 2010
By 
Ankur Banerjee (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
Making History doesn't have anything to do with a cat trying to eat a goldfish. It's a story whose basic premise revolves around the question - what would world history be like if Adolf Hitler never existed? Although it is never mentioned, the idea of `many worlds' is an interpretation of quantum mechanics (in case you don't what it is the preceding link should give you an overview of what the topic is about). Don't worry if you aren't that much into physics because the book barely gets into any scientific details, instead choosing to focus on the human angle.
Stephen Fry - Making History (back cover)

The story's protagonist is a history PhD student at Cambridge called Michael Young who is fascinated by Hitler's origins. He writes his dissertation on the childhood / youth of Hitler and how that affects him to where he reached later in life - not in the form that most theses are written in but in the form of a story. At this point in the beginning of the novel, chapters alternate between what is happening in Michael's life and a fictionalized account of Hitler's childhood. The latter gives moment for pause and makes you think about the place (not geographically speaking) that Hitler came from. I point this bit out not as a spoiler but because his parents are referred to by their first names (Alois and Klara) without `Hitler' being mentioned - to those who didn't know this bit of historical fact, those chapters might seem confusing at first.

Serendipitously, a physicist at his college called Leo Zuckerman comes across this dissertation and becomes fascinated by it, since he tortured by the guilt that his father supervised executions of Jewish people at Auschwitz. Leo has been working on a device allows small quantities of matter to be transmitted to the past. Soon, Michael and Leo get it into their heads that they must change the course of by ensuring that Hitler is never born. They plan to do this by infecting the water supply of the town Hitler was born in with a new, highly potent contraceptive substance nicked by Michael from his girlfriend's laboratory.

I won't give rest of the story away, for this is where it kicks into high gear. Michael wakes up the day after they try their little experiment to find that he's woken up in America - at Princeton University. At first he doesn't realize what is going on, and his sudden change in behaviour alarms his friends. It turns out the the Michael we know in the last few pages has replaced the Michael in this parallel universe - a universe in which Hitler was never born. The novel continues alternating between Michael's life and scenes from (the now altered) world history. Michael soon finds out that his plan didn't exactly work out.

The novel is a bit long, but Stephen Fry goes to great lengths to keep you interested. By mixing up chapters from the past and the present he keeps you wanting to read finish a chapter as fast as possible to find out what is happening in the other story thread. Yes, the stories are intertwined, so you can't just skip chapters. Fry also throws in variations, like writing certain chapters as screenplay for a movie.

Making History is an engaging novel which makes you ask a lot of philosophical questions - can we really change the course of history, and even if we can do we want to / should we? It shows how the smallest changes can set off a chain reaction that grows into something immense. Also, if you're a history buff - or even a guy who doesn't know much about this period of world history - then this book is quite informative. The parallel universe history is fictionalized but it still has hints of actual history from our world.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very, very classy sci-fi, 9 Oct 2003
By 
Nigel Collier (Hull) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
I like Stephen Fry a lot. He's one of those people who you feel you should note whatever authors, newspapers, music etc. he likes and find out how he stands on gay rights, the war against terror and reality TV, because, somehow, you feel if he doesn't tally with your own view, then maybe you have to question yourself. He's extremely clever and extremely funny; he can move seamlessy from Bertrand Russell to Derek and Clive and tell a damn fine tale to boot.
Making History has a fairly standard time-travelling premise - in fact it's pretty trite really: go back in time, erase Hitler from history and save the world, and more specifically the Jews, from the cataclysm of WWII and the Holocaust. For the first half of the book it appears that it this premise doesn't really have more depth or complexity than Back to the Future or Total Recall; the same themes are explored, like the sheer weirdness and culture shock which would face a time traveller landing in an entirely foreign time and place, plus the all important chaos theory that changing something in the past sends out all kinds of ripples and affects much more than you can ever anticipate. Of course, the material in Making History is far more grave than just whether Marty McFly can save his mum from the evil clutches of Biff Tannen, and the richness of characters and locations is a far cry from Arnie's movies. But the premise and themes are much the same. That is, until you get into the latter part of the book. THEN things become a great deal more complex, exquisitely crafted and intertwined with plots and alternate, parallel realities twisting around each other in the most intriguing and mesmerising way.
I think it was a little overproofed and a little TOO clever at times though. Fry's intellect is something you just sit back and soak up, open mouthed. But in this book he parades it about to the extent that you can actually see it through the words on the page. There are two major stories running parallel with each other more or less throughout the book and more or less taking alternate turns as chapters, one contemporary, one set on the Western Front during The Great War. As a device, the 'two parallel stories' is almost essential when writing a story of this time-travelling nature. Fry also switches the writing style from 3rd person narrative, to movie script format for certain chapters. There may be an argument for this, but I missed it.
As a story teller and writer he is peerless though. His English is wonderful, his intimate knowledge and understanding of the subject masterly. The authors' axim of 'writing about what you know' doesn't really restrict Stephen Fry - he seems to know just about everything. It must be fraught having to put yourself in the place of someone pitched into an entirely foreign place and time. Getting their reaction to the situation right is hard. Getting the environment right is fraught too - it will be recognisable but different; you have to consider everything, every mundane little detail, don't assume anything is naturally going to be like what you already KNOW about that time and place. In Asimov it's fairly easy because you can make up anything, in Das Boot it's easy because it's all there in the history books and diaries. In Making History though, you're rewriting history, caught between two stools, you're inventing characters and places and major world changing events, but people have some idea of whether you're doing it realistically or not.
It's a very good read, and it would make a FANTASTIC movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative and addictive, 16 Oct 2000
This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
Much about "Making History" is worthy of praise: there were plot twists around every bend, which kept the book from sinking into one of those dime-a-dozen sci-fi novels. I found the diolouge witty and very distinctive of the author -- readers of his other books will not be disappointed in this one. Though the action does start out slowly, the inner monologue of the main character is full of fresh, somewhat cynical views on everyday objects (numbers for one) and is amusing in and of itself. The ending was satisfying and the reader does not get the feeling that Fry took "the easy way out". Much recommended for anyone who likes a good book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A-MAZ-ING, 15 May 2009
By 
K. Alliston - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Making History (Paperback)
My first Stephen Fry book and I LOVED it! What has taken me so long? Really clever,but accessible, but then what else would you expect? Fry always comes across as a person who wouldn't belittle you and rub his intelligence in your face. What a fab idea for a book.
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Making History
Making History by Stephen Fry
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