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Making History

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  9,760 ratings  ·  625 reviews
In Making History, Stephen Fry has bitten off a rather meaty chunk by tackling an at first deceptively simple premise: What if Hitler had never been born? An unquestionable improvement, one would reason--and so an earnest history grad student and an aging German physicist idealistically undertake to bring this about by preventing Adolf's conception. And with their success ...more
Paperback, 575 pages
Published August 5th 2004 by Arrow (first published October 22nd 1996)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  9,760 ratings  ·  625 reviews

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May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Can you have a mid-life crisis at twenty-four? Or is it just the usual crisis of adulthood, something I was going to have to get used to until I doddered into oblivion? For the past year, I realised, I had been suffering from this pain, this leaking of hot lead in my stomach. Every morning when I awoke and stared at the ceiling and listened to Jane’s gentle snoring it flooded my gut, a dark swell of recognition that here was another pissing day to be got through as me. How can you tell if that’s ...more
Kara Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hugh Malcolm
Feb 16, 2009 rated it liked it
The book started well enough, young chap at Cambridge (Fry's alma mater) immersed in the history of Hitler, working towards spending his life at Cambridge in a paid capacity, is having a tough time with his hard-nosed scientist girlfriend who finally leaves him (I found her more interesting than our hero, stronger, and more capable of carrying a story, and was sorry to see her go). Young man makes a hash of his thesis, dissertation, whatever, by being way too inventive for historical research, b ...more
Apr 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
This was clearly not a success for me. Especially the literary level was very low: weakly portraited, one-dimensional characters, an occasional exciting moment but a lot of very boring moments, especially in the passages that have been written as a film script, and a really really dull final. The only interesting approach is that Fry tries to imagine what the consequences would be of attempts to change history, but even that is poorly executed. As a novel this does not exceed the level of cheap ...more
Thomas Strömquist
Probably my favorite fiction book by the wonderful Stephen Fry - when you have read his autobiography, my suggestion is to go for this one! The story, obviously, is about the changing of history and the consequences thereof. Wonderful, live and likeable characters (and some not likeable at all, of course) and has all the trademark Fry: English humor, wit, and beautiful language. At no point in this book this feels overdone, but I felt that he hit just the tone and pace here. The outcome of the m ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5 stars but whatever.

The story follows Michael D. Young, a 24 year old guy who is supposed to turn in his thesis to achieve his doctorate. He lives with his girlfriend Jane, who is a very clever ambitious Chemist (I think, idk anymore) and both of them are so different that this relationship isn't good for any of them. The thesis Michael writes focuses on Adolf Hitler and his mother but (because he is dumb, I can't find another reason for such a bad thesis) he writes it in prose. Lik
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
Thoroughly good book. The idea this book is based on is nothing new, people have discussed this many times, but this is the first time I have seen the idea written down.

It has been very well done, the different writing styles used keep you entertained. Michael and Leo are very good characters and some of their dialogue had me in stitches.

The first book I have read by Mr Fry, I will be back to read some more.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
I tried, I really did. I love Mr Fry but this was flat as a pancake, two dimensional in every respect. The first couple of chapters were like a flashback to some trip in my twenties, an acid burn. By the time it had pulled itself into something that aligned with my attention span, my attention had got up and gone out for a drink.

I followed it, leaving the book behind.

Sorry, I know that a great deal have really rated this, but for me it didn't mesh.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
When someone as talented, witty, and educated as Stephen Fry writes a book, you half-expect brilliance on every page. While his genius was clearly in evidence, it was only every other page or so where it struck me--still a helluva good rate.

Fry did not lack for ambition. But it was always going to be difficult to display humor, humanity, romance, and imagination when the fate of the whole continent's Jewish population was at stake. The book asks whither a world without Hitler. Fry's treatment an
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, historical
Slow to get started, but once the set up ended (around page 150), it got completely awesome and very interesting. Michael and Leo try to fix the world by making it so that Hitler was never born, except the world that results is even worse.

I loved the glimpses of the technology in the alternate world. I think the premise that the world ends up in a perpetual state of the 1950s is fascinating. I liked how Michael and Steve's relationship evolved, although I'd have liked to see a bit more of it. I
Amazing. My absolute favorite of Fry's excellent works, and one of my favorite books, period. Hilarious, it goes without saying. Intelligent, playful, silly/serious. Romantic. No one but Fry could write a book about Hitler that can make you cry with laughter.
"Sodding pants."
This was a great disappointment. The best part of the book was the alternate world that Fry imagined, with a very different outcome to the Second World War from the one we know.

I found the protagonist incredibly irritating, though I was presumably supposed to find him charming. For someone who is a PhD candidate in history at Cambridge University, his inability to see that removing Hitler from the picture would not change the disastrous situation in Germany after the First World War, and that of
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: 2008, fiction
This amazing novel is a blend of science fiction, history, and time travel, and I thought it brilliant. If you're over the age of sixteen, chances are that you have spent a minute or two - in school or outside of it - pondering what our world would be like if the Germans had won World War II, or if Adolf Hitler had never been born, and that's exactly what this novel is about. Fry explores a spectrum of potential realities: historical, political, scientific, cultural, and sexual, and his speculat ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think I read somewhere once that the first rule of timetravel is that you try to kill Hitler, and the second rule is that it either doesn't work, or things get even worse.

This book falls into the second category. So, in terms of concept, it's not entirely new, but the execution is really really good.

The book does an excellent job of capturing the human emotional level of the whole insane thing, and it's much funnier than you'd expect this kind of book to be.

This is not really a science-fiction
I wish I liked this book more, because I love Stephen Fry as an actor. But it started off so slow, like the first 200 pages were difficult to get through. After that was fine, but nothing that really blew me away and made the rating jump up for me. I wish I gave up on it, but the concept was so interesting that I was hoping it would get better. Unfortunately it was a bit too late and it didn’t redeem itself, so I was pretty disappointed with this one.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow - this book was amazing!
In the beginning, the switch between past and present was a bit odd and I had a hard time to find into the book. But after several chapters, you see how all of it fits to the story and then I couldn't stop reading. So I am really happy that I had the opportunity to read it & can only recommend it!
S.J. Higbee
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the first time I’ve picked up a Stephen Fry novel, and it was an enjoyable, if slightly uneven, experience. Thumbing through the opening pages, I noticed that this book was first published in 1996, which begins to make sense when considering some of the faultlines running through this alternate history offering.

The book is an intriguing premise – two men decide, for very different reasons, to tamper with history by ensuring the one man responsible for the rise of Nazi Germany is never b
Jenn "JR"
This was my first Stephen Fry book -- and I was a bit daunted by the 500+ page length. The writing is pretty fast moving -- heaps of details that make me feel like he's writing for a film, plus some sections where it's written like a film dialogue (not really sure why he's used this).

Essentially, the story is about a student working on his PhD dissertation which sounds like an even more purple style of prose than Erik Larsen (bless his heart) and is laughed off by his dissertation advisor. He cr
This book is about Michael Young, a PhD candidate in the field of history, and Leo Zuckermann, a professor. They both attend Cambridge and have a big interest in World War II, and in Hitler especially. Young is writing his thesis about Hitler's life, while Zuckermann creates a time machine. When these two people meet, they decide to eliminate one of the biggest evils that this world has ever known: Hitler. They succeed, but what they did not know is that the world may had been better off with Hi ...more
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, fiction
This is my first approach to Fry's books.

It is an entertaining read. He is a talented and cultured man and that it is what you see while reading.

A book is always embedded with the author's feelings likes and dislikes and opinions about anything. It is his "creature" after all. No surprises there. However, it may seem here that the story is just a necessary background against which Fry's impress many of its thoughts (academia's live and fauna, “Scientific” vs. “Humanist” views, English vs. Americ
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was the first book by Stephen Fry that I have read. It is an enjoyable easy read, dealing with one of my favorite genres, time travel.

I found the chapters that were written to mimic a movie scripts were very distracting, and don't really understand its use as a literary style. does Fry do this often?

The storyline is a fairly classic one, What would happen if you travelled back in time and prevented Hitler from being born?

The clever consequences of this action make this a very interesting r
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There are not so many books which manage to get in your head in such a way that you ask yourself all those questions even though you know you won't get an answer. And it does so in such a light way filled with humor but it talks about topics darker than the night sky. What if Hitler had never been born? Would have this world been a Utopia or would it be even worse? Is there always a worse possibility? And should we ever, if given the chance, tamper with time and past events and what not? What if ...more
Hadas Sloin
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Although it took me a while to get into it (the beginning of the book is slow), I greatly enjoyed "Making History".
Fry manages to take a well-discussed topic and a well-known (even worn) idea, and shape them into a funny and insightful story. Mostly, I'm amazed by his ability to meaningfully discuss such a complex and heavy topic, and still leave me with a smile on my face.
While I didn't like Fry's writing style and his peculiar protagonist at first, I learned to love them both by the end of th
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-copy
Loved this book from the first page, Stephen Fry has a wonderful turn of phrase and the way, which is so easy to read.

The story is different take on time travel and results in history being worse after the first bout of time travel than it originally was. However all things end up as they should by the end, or do they?

At times it was very funny, at other times quite serious, but a great read overall.
a little too long, but a fun ride nonetheless.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: notebooks, tbp-2018
I love the writing and the plot is one of the most fascinating ones I've read *-* ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bieb, read-in-2018
Although at the start it was a bit over the top
in enthusiasm (it read like every word was screamed out by the writer), I liked the book. It is original, witty and the way the main character experiences everything feels very true. It’s written very well.
Fry knows a lot. A lot of a lot. And speaks several languages. But yet, he doesn’t show it off. It’s all just for the good of the story.
I read it in Dutch, should have read it in English. I’m shure the British humor would have been even better - a
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
What if? This reminds me of a late-night student discussion of what would have happened if Germany had won WWII, what if Hitler hadn't been born, and what if you had the ability to change history. If you changed one thing, would that make the present better? In 'Terminator', somebody returning to the past changes the future for the better, but even though one butterfly flapping its wings in Japan can theoretically change events on the other side of the world, will removing one major agent for ev ...more
Dimitris Hall
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
"I don't know why I find it intensely erotic to stand naked before an open fridge, but I do. Maybe it's something to do with the expectation of a hunger soon to be satisfied, maybe it's that the spill of light on my body makes me feel like a professional stripper. Maybe something weird happened to me when I was young. It is an alarming feeling, mind, because all those assembled food-stuffs put ideas in your head you're on the rise. Stories of what you can do with the unsalted butter on ripe melo ...more
Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I really like Stephen Fry, and I love historical "counterfactuals", so this rambling thought-experiment hit all the right buttons for me...until the second half when the action shifts location from a spot on mid-'90s Cambridge to a less-than-believable alternative reality Princeton, NJ. And the "happy" ending was a real head-scratcher, let's just leave it at that.

One gets the impression that the author was pressed for time to get the book done and move on to other projects- what a curse it must
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Stephen John Fry is an English comedian, writer, actor, humourist, novelist, poet, columnist, filmmaker, television personality and technophile. As one half of the Fry and Laurie double act with his comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, he has appeared in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. He is also famous for his roles in Blackadder and Wilde, and as the host of QI. In addition to writing fo ...more

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