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The Origins of the Second World War

UK Publisher: Penguin

A. J. P. Taylor’s bestselling The Origins of the Second World War overturns popular myths about the outbreak of war.

One of the most popular and controversial historians of the twentieth century, who made his subject accessible to millions, A. J. P. Taylor caused a storm of outrage with this scandalous bestseller. Debunking what were accepted truths about the Second World War, he argued provocatively that Hitler did not set out to cause the war as part of an evil masterplan, but blundered into it partly by accident, aided by the shortcomings of others.

Fiercely attacked for vindicating Hitler, Taylor’s stringent re-examination of the events preceding the Nazi invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 opened up new debate, and is now recognized as a brilliant and classic piece of scholarly research.


Alan John Percivale Taylor was born in Lancashire in 1906. After studying at Oriel College, Oxford, he became a lecturer...