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on 20 August 2015
Taylor's authority is etched on each page, the master of his craft as he weaves the endless bickerings, jealousies, vber-strident pride and posturing of politicians and leaders between the two world wars. Though he does appear to err on the side of British thinking, this is understandable for a man of his time and with more opportunity to study primary and other historical records. In this he is helped by being a contemporary of the events, and therefore armed with his own observations pertinent and undiminished by the passage of time.

I really appreciated a one volume history purely about the origins of the war. Too many histories of the Second World War dwell briefly on the road to war, peddalling the same 'truths' with too little regard for the thought processes and frailties of the powers concerned. Here we have a version that ascribes, not carefully planned assaults on The Versailles Treaty by Hitler, but opportunistic leaps and bounds opened by events and taken advantage of.

I would recommend this book and a thoroughly informative and compelling read in its own right, but also to those interested in the two wars and would appreciate a fifferent perspective at odds with received history.
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on 10 March 2017
AJP Taylor has the ability to put you in the position of the various players in the unfolding historical drama - acting with imperfect information, blinded by the assumptions and beliefs of the day, and peering into an uncertain future. So many historical narratives fail to bring events to life in this way, because the benefit of hindsight can convey a false sense of inevitability to the eventual outcomes.

I'm not sure that he gives Hitler's capacity for evil its due share of attention, but this is not to contradict the thought-provoking insights that he gives. A first-rate read.
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on 2 August 2017
This is a dense ('factually'), annoying, contradictory, idiosyncratic, challenging and often quite ridiculous read, that keeps you on your toes.
I didn't commence to read this book critically, but in the light of the rave reviews, I didn't expect 'raving'. No doubt in 1961 (when published), this book created a sensation. Now??
AJP seems to have started with a thesis, and sets out to prove it. He puts forth an analysis, & then uses his own analysis or views to prove it.I think he fell in love with controversy for its own sake, sometimes with jaw-dropping results.
A central theory, Hitler didn't long term plan, he waited for circumstances and events to come to him (AJP is not kind to other historians eg A Bullock re long term plans). These 'circumstances' are a little freely interpreted, but AJP accepts that Hitler's ambition was mastery of Europe (possibly the world). Eggs and omelettes come to mind. Is the cause more important than the result? perhaps so, but. Besides which, his Army/LW always seems to be ready to a planned schedule/date of action, well in advance.
There are a few inaccuracies, due to post-1961 information? They do however throw doubt on some of the rest of the text.
This book is still provides an interesting angle worthy of perusal.
Controversy is useful, it challenges pre-conceptions.
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on 3 January 2015
I've read parts of some of the scholarly reviews of this work posted here; enough to know I'm not scholarly enough to support or refute them. However, I would ask you to read this book if you were brought up to think that Hitler and the Nazis were the sole cause of World War Two. For example, the deliberate(?) attempt to starve Germany by the terms of the Versailles Treaty played a very big part; enough I think to say that Hitler would never have risen to power if the demands of the treaty had been more realistic.
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on 21 June 2017
A very controversial book,stating that Hitler was not a megalomaniac, but an ordinary German politician, but well worth a read, it is eye opening and shows how any piece of evidence can be used for a number of view points if used correctly (or incorrectly). I should point out that this book is in no way antisemitic and was actually written by a life-long supporter of the Labour Party, which makes it all the more surprising. It will likely change the way you view the Nazi German hierarchy.
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on 6 January 2016
Written over half a century ago it is still a fascinating read and essential for those interested in how the Second World War came about. Taylor challenges a lot of the assumptions about Hitler but is in no way an apologist for him. It is more that he reflects upon the actions of people like Chamberlain.
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on 23 April 2016
This book was obviously written with the intention of causing controversy and as a result it can be argued that Taylor was selective in his approach to evidence, there is no attempt to question this view, but rather to undermine previous historical publications and replace them with an opinion disregarding complete blame on Hitler. However, in doing so Taylor opened up fresh and un-explored avenues to future historians, developing more modern explinations and perhaps a more accurate balance of responsibility in which the German population and Allied failures can be questioned.

I am dyslexic so apologies for errors
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on 5 January 2015
This really is a must read for all history enthusiasts. Taylor takes a pretty different approach to analysing Europe's descent into war - he looks at factors other than Hitler, where other historians have not. Whether you agree with him or not, it really widens the mind to the other contributing factors many have forgotten about.
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VINE VOICEon 28 November 2014
This is a classic but very controversial book. Taylor's views (in essence that Hitler didn't plan WW2 but opportunistically reacted to events) have been challenged by many. The jury is still out but it remains essential reading for the serious student.
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on 24 January 2016
I like the readability and style

I able fascinated about the facts I didnt know and their relevance to today's world
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