Making History

Making History

A Novel

Book - 1997?
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Random House, Inc.
Those of us who have already discovered Stephen Fry know him as the brilliant British comedian behind TV series such as Jeeves & Wooster and Blackadder, and the author of two enormously funny novels, The Liar and The Hippopotamus. But his new film (in which he plays Oscar Wilde) and his new novel (this one) represent a somewhat alarming departure from his previous work: They're more serious. Though humor is still an essential ingredient of both, Fry's fans are finally getting to witness the emotional depth that this brilliant polymath usually keeps hidden.

In Making History, 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 is launched a brave new world that is in some ways better than ours--but in most ways even worse. Fry's experiment in history makes for his most ambitious novel yet, and his most affecting. His first book to be set mostly in America, it is a thriller with a funny streak, a futuristic fantasy based on one of mankind's darkest realities. It is, in every sense, a story of our times.

Baker & Taylor
An aging German physicist prevents Hitler's birth, with fortunate and unfortunate results

& Taylor

The British comic actor best known for his role in the TV series Jeeves and Wooster presents his third novel, in which an aging German physicist prevents Hitler's birth, with fortunate and unfortunate results. 25,000 first printing. Tour.

Publisher: New York : Random House, [1997?]
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9780679459552
Branch Call Number: Fiction FRY S
Characteristics: xi, 380 pages ; 25 cm


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Dec 23, 2013

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 be to be as clever and talented in diverse fields as Mr Fry is! Still, it gets my qualified recommendation on the strength of the passages about the life and times of young Hitler, and also Fry's chin-strokingly evil invention of the man who could have taken his place were he never born.

Sep 12, 2012

In addition to thoroughly enjoying this thoughtful alternate history, which will definitely appeal more to fans of language than of plot at the beginning, I was delighted by passages in which the action is narrated in the form of a screenplay script. The author did a brilliant job of telling certain sections of the story in this format and I gained valuable and completely unexpected insight into how a screenplay is written!

crankylibrarian Sep 30, 2011

A spine tingling alternate history thriller, based on that hoary ethical cliche: what if you could go back in time and murder Hitler? Would it make any difference? Michael Young, a Cambridge graduate student who has just completed his dissertation on Hitler's childhood, unexpectedly finds out when he meets a mysterious German physicist named Zukermann. Together, they manage to retro-engineer the Hitler family history to forestall young Adolf's birth...while setting in motion a disastrous chain of consequences resulting in an America that no self confident, liberal gay intellectual could live in. Will Michael and Zukermann be able to reverse the damage they've caused...or will they make things still worse?

Nov 20, 2010

My husband brought this home from some kind of fund-raising book sale at work, so I said "What the heck", and placed it by my bed.

It's a pleasant read, following the misadventures of a gawky and rather immature grad student Michael Young who has just finished his thesis on Hitler's early life. The first half of the book's chapters alternate between what is happening to Michael as he attempts to submit his paper, and what is actually written in his paper. The second half of the book deals with aftermath of a time-travel experiment Michael hatches with an ancient professor with his own dark secret.

Two sections of the book are written in movie script form (presumably for easier narration), and I found this a bit clunky, but on the whole, I enjoyed the book. I'm not sure how memorable it is, but it does raise (for me anyway) the rather startling question: "Is genocide by death camp preferable to genocide by mass sterilization?"

Feb 03, 2010

A fun light read, with some dark, thoughtful undertones: What is the role of the individual v. society in history; and How thankful should we be that things are not worse and to whom should we be thankful?


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Sep 12, 2012

"In this life, you are either a rat or a mouse. Rats do good or evil by changing things and mice do good or evil by doing nothing." p. 364


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