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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 19 March 2012
Well written, well argued and authorative. If you buy only one book on WW2, make it this one. Don't be dissuaded by the whingers the book offended by its bravery.
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on 8 July 2001
A genuine contribution to history, written for the layman in a human style that portrays the characters moods and mood swings very effectively. In reality, written from the British point of view. I agree that it should be called Origins of the Second World War [in Europe] and is far too Euro-centric, especially written from the point of view of the Western Powers. Successfully reverses a number of perceptions which are locked in the British psyche. More importantly, it sets the British politicians minds within the context of public opinion - especially, the large public mandate for the national governments (similiarities with Tony Blair in that popularity is not linked with decisive leadership). At the end of this book, it is quite clear why statemen like Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Lord Curzon etc did not dominate the twenties and thirties - the public had been sold the "war to end all wars" line and the lie needed a compelling external threat before the government could get off the hook. A truly exciting book.
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on 21 February 2009
Taylor's is a classic explanation of the main causes of WW2, but new research by people such as Victor Suvorov, have now shed more light on how the war developed from a minor dispute over Danzig into a global conflict. Although Hitler undoubtedly had the ultimate objective of gaining living space in the East, he did not create a precise timetable, nor did he have any clear idea as to how he was going to implement his plans. He sleepwalked his way into the conflict by following his own intuition, rather than any cogent plan. He also completely misread British intentions in 1939, and how their policy towards Germany changed radically from appeasement to confrontation, once Hitler had occupied Bohemia-Moravia and Memel.
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on 2 August 1999
Taylor's account of the origins of the war is a fascinating dive into the twisted saga that was the Third Reich. Propounding the theory that Hitler was a master of patience who let the Appeasment-happy politicians of the West hand Czechoslovakia, Austria, and eventually Poland over to him, Taylor's arguments are compelling and definitive. While not detracting from the horrors of the Reich, it becomes clear that the political aspect of Hitler's empire was focused on getting the most he could while avoiding war, not planning for or encouraging it. The second edition contains Taylor's reply (in a forward) to the many critics and historians who debased the work as monstrous upon its initial publication, but like all the best of Taylor's work, it seeks only to dig for the truth, not an absolution of morality.
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on 11 February 2009
This is a Brilliant book. It displays the events that led to the second world war with ease and delicacy. He writes in a fashion that allows the reader to follow, cronologically, through from the great Hitlers invasion of the Rhineland to the Munich Crisis and the following 6 months to war on September 3rd. It offers many view pionts from retrospect but also from the time.

It is a must read. Please get this book if you want a thrilling read.
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on 28 August 2015
Opens your eyes to the double dealing and skulduggery that went on before the war by England and France.
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on 6 January 2016
A controversial interesting read. Well written and even witty in some parts. Although I believe that Hitler was solely to blame for the outbreak of war, I do not agree that he was an opportunist with no plan, being lucky if opportunities arose. Mein Kampf pretty much explains Hitler's thinking and I felt Taylor fell into the same trap as Hitler's contemporaries in underestimating him or not taking his politics seriously. I agree that the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh and unworkable, given Germany's innate power, especially economic. Sooner or later Germany would have to be confronted again, be it militarily or by finding some accommodation for her hegemony.

An interesting read, recommended.
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on 26 December 2009
An excellent book, which is provocative, lucid and whose arguments are soundly based on the facts. In other words, it is all anyone could reasonably expect from a work of history.

Without wanting to spoil what is an excellent read, suffice it to say that Taylor's thesis is that German foreign policy up to 1939 was pretty much what might have been expected from any self respecting government, Nazi trappings not withstanding. Along the way, he buttresses this by debunking the myth that Germany was set on global conflict, making some very useful comments regarding the so-called Hossbach Memorandum on November 1937. He also reminds us that the popularly accepted story of Dr Hacha's visit to Berlin in March 1939 is far from being an accurate representation of the facts.

Of course, the book is not perfect. For example his Keynesian-coloured comments on economics are plain wrong. And yes, it can be argued that his focus could usefully have been widened beyond the key powers of Western Europe. But this would have made it a longer book without in any way altering the conclusions reached.

In sum, this is surely one of the relatively few books about the origins of the second world war that is likely to add anything new to the reader's understanding. It is definitely worth buying whether you agree with Taylor or not and provides a most useful counterpoint to the Churchillian orthodoxy that still dominates the historiography of world war two.
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on 11 March 1998
Dubbed as a "revisionist history" when the book was first written, A.J.P. Taylor's scholarship has withstood the test of time and a fresh reading is testimony to his prophetic skills. Mr. Taylor's work demonstrates that there are no blacks and whites but only grays in the world of realpolitik. His work is both for the casual reader as well as for students of history. (Naushad Shafkat)
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on 19 April 2011
Was Taylor seeking a new perspective on the origins of World War II or was he being deliberately controversial in order to make a name for himself in the pantheon of 20th century historians? Whatever his motives, this book is stimulating, thought provoking and essential reading for both students of history and those, like me, who grew up during this turbulent period.
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