Posted 20 hours ago

Making History

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The story is full of plot holes, but Richard R Grant’s narration alone means you should give this a go. 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. 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). This is the first time I’ve picked up a Stephen Fry novel, and it was an enjoyable, if slightly uneven, experience. When these two people meet, they decide to eliminate one of the biggest evils that this world has ever known: Hitler.

Barely two stars, one being for the alternate outcome for Europe that Fry imagined and described well and succinctly.All in all, it’s an interesting book with an interesting premise and if you enjoy alternate histories, I highly recommend it. Fry is good at writing minor characters memorably and the flashes of humour helped alleviate what could have been a grim read, given the subject matter. The book is structured in an odd fashion, and I felt like I wasn't following it properly quite often, but still enjoyable, and I think it warrants a second read/listen. 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. However, the result isn’t what they bargained for… As a former history student, I thoroughly enjoyed Fry’s thorough approach to the historical content and had no problem with the leisurely start.

I think anyone interested in history would find this an interesting read - if they can push through the beginning (should it not appeal). I also learned a few things about history - I can't believe I never knew that "Nazi" was merely the first four letters of the full name of the political party that Hitler helped to found, for instance.Together, they hatch a plan to modify the machine such that it can be used to send something back into time. I learnt something about WW2 (and WW1) and have something to chew on with regards to human nature and the results of WW1. I was at a party in New York when that review came out, and Bret Easton Ellis came up to me and gave me a big hug and said: “I'm so happy that someone now has the worst review I've ever read. That result could not have been achieved solely by sterilizing Jewish men through the "Braunau Water". The storyline is a fairly classic one, What would happen if you travelled back in time and prevented Hitler from being born?

What-if" exercises are interesting when you've got someone to give you proper context along the way. I was also quite amused by the comparisons between "American" and English" expressions in the book, as a Canadian, is was 50/50 as to which one was more familiar to me. But tinkering with timelines is more dangerous than they can imagine and nothing - past, present or future - will ever be the same again. Proposed screenplays joust with dryly written history, academese wrestles with Michael's cheeky speech. 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.

Spent the first few chapters wondering what on earth was going on, but after a few chapters the story starts falling together into a fantastic, imaginative and thought provoking tale.

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