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The Course of German History

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  95 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
One of A.J.P. Taylor's best-known books, The Course of German History is a notoriously idiosyncratic work. Composed in his famously witty style, yet succinct to the point of sharpness, this is one of the great historian's finest, if more controversial, accomplishments. As Taylor himself noted, 'the history of the Germans is a history of extremes. It contains everything exc ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published May 18th 2001 by Routledge (first published 1946)
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I picked up this book on a whim from the library, mostly because my German history between Charlemagne and the world wars was completely lacking. I ended up actually reading it as an anthropological study of the history of history – or something like that. Taylor was purposely being rather absurd in his claims, such as "... after Bach, Lutheran Germany had no cultural existence" (10) and phases like "an attempt without meaning" (165) to describe any democratic or non-fascist political moves. His ...more
Jeremy Thin
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ridiculous, preposterous but enjoyable.
Will Tomsett
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Taylor is always an enjoyable read and so this gets a minimum of three stars for me.

However it is very much a book of its time and suffers from a view of the German character as being docile morons led by warlike and anti-democratic leaders. Worth remembering that this was written in 1945!

Nonetheless despite the slightly ridiculous underlying argument, it is an entertaining and informative read which gives a good overview of German history between 1803-1939.

This edition (Routledge 1988) reall
Ben Craik
Taylor's book is a product of its time. To my mind - with it's twenty-first century sensibilities - it is too concerned with high politics and far too polemical.
David Sutherland
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Simply a brilliant history book for those students of German history and for those wishing to read a superb summary of nineteenth and twentieth century German history up to July 1945. The preface sets the tone of Taylor's critical assessment of Germany and the Germans. For those accusing Taylor of holding brutal anti-German views, he reminds the reader that "the facts made it for themselves" - facts which indeed stand before us all to see, to learn, and to try and understand.

The first chapter s
Shyam Sundar Sridhar
Apr 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: History buffs
Shelves: history-modern
I started off this book with high expectations, having read AJP Taylor's "Origins of the Second World War". However, Taylor is nauseatingly Germanophobic. He doesn't hide his opinions about the Germans at all. He starts by claiming that they are barbarians, have always been so and will always remain so, unless they are civilized under the weight of foreign military power. He traces a "German national character" to the time of the Germanic invasion of the European plains - a character that repudi ...more
carl  theaker
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ww2
Excellent book, which is renown itself. A recent review regarding
its reprinting inspired me to read it. First published right after wwii,
it remains in print to this day which is an endorsement of its insights.

Which I've since read where people don't necessarily agree with them!

Appears that Taylor was a bit of personality of the day, appearing on
radio talk shows and panels of all sorts in his day 40-50s.
Not a typical description for the 'stodgy' British historian.

It is one of those books where
Edmund O'Connor
Jun 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Taylor's prose, especially here, is always laced with a flair for the dramatic and eye-catching. It is difficult to imagine a historian with a less clear-cut view of the subject at hand, which is refreshing in a field where so many hedges and qualifications can be offered up as to obscure whatever point is hesitantly being made.

However, the reverse of that is that Taylor brusquely dismisses or ignores any fact and trend that does not fit his thesis. While it is understandable that he had very go
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beware, this author assumes his reader is fairly well versed in the history of the period. Refreshingly frank account of rise of Germany from 1815. Showing Hitler as not so much an aberration, but a continuation of expansionist German policy. I found some of the descriptions of the internal politics of Germany in the 1877-1914 period especially enlightening in better understanding the origins of WWI and the ineptitude really of German government, a truly great power in the hands of an immature, ...more
David Lowther
AJP Taylor was one of the finest popular historians of the Twentieth Century. Much, but not all, of his writing was aimed at people interested in history rather than students of it.
The Course of German History was written during the final months of the Second World War. The closing chapters, covering the period from the fall of Bismarck to the defeat of Hitler, are superb and would help anyone trying to figure out why there were two such devastating wars in the Twentieth Century.
I found the re
David Nichols
Apr 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A great book for German-haters, written by an Englishman at the very end of World War Two. It contains two of Taylor's most famous quotes: one on the 1848 Revolutions - "German history reached its turning point and failed to turn" - and the other on Hitler, whose only flaw, according to the author, was that he was a German.
David Warwick
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating, deeply provocative book by one of Britain's most famous and celebrated historians.

Deeply scathing about certain perceived "tendencies" in German history, most of which would be rejected by more considered historians, but very thought provoking and extremely readable all the same.
David Thornber
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
AJP Taylor's opinion. But he has been there and seen a lot. Worth reading.
Jul 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
College textbook for German history course.
Madeeha Maqbool
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written in 1945, this was bound to be biased against the Germans. Even so, it's an excellent way to get started and does have some invaluable insights. Just don't take it as the last word.
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Alan John Percivale Taylor was a British historian of the 20th century and renowned academic who became well known to millions through his popular television lectures.