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- For others named John Taylor, see John Taylor.
Alan John Percivale Taylor (March 25, 1906 – September 7, 1990) was a renowned British historian of the 20th century. Taylor was probably the best-known British historian of the century and was certainly one of the most controversial.
Life and work
Early Life & Career
Taylor was born in Birkdale, near Southport, brought up in Lancashire, and educated at various Quaker schools and the Bootham School in York. In 1924, he went to Oxford to study modern history. His wealthy parents held strongly left-wing views, which Taylor inherited. In the 1920s, Taylor's mother was a member of the Comintern and one of his uncles a founding member of the British Communist Party. In his youth, Taylor himself had been a member of the British Communist Party from 1924-1926. Taylor broke with the Communist Party over what he considered to be the Party's ineffective stand during the 1926 General Strike. After leaving the Communists, Taylor was an ardent Labour Party supporter for the rest of his life. Despite his break with the Communists, Taylor visited the Soviet Union in 1925 and again in 1934, and was much impressed on both visits.
Taylor graduated from Oriel College, Oxford in 1927. After working briefly as a legal clerk, Taylor began his post-graduate work, went to Vienna, Austria to study the impact of the Chartist movement on the Revolution of 1848 in Vienna. When Taylor's topic turned out to be unfeasible, he switched to studying the question of Italian unification over a two year period, which resulted in his first book, The Italian Problem in European Diplomacy, 1847–49 in 1934. Taylor's main mentors in this period were the Austrian-born historian Alfred Francis Pribham and the Polish-born historian Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier. The opposing influences of Pribham and Namier can be seen in Taylor's writings on Austria-Hungary until the publication of his 1941 book The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918, which was published in a revised edition in 1948. Taylor's earlier writings reflected Pribham's favourable opinion of the Habsburgs; his later writings show the influence of Namier's unfavourable views about the Habsburgs. In The Habsburg Monarchy, Taylor stated that the Habsburgs saw their realms entirely as a tool for foreign policy and thus could never build a genuine nation-state. In order to hold their realm together, the Habsburgs resorted to playing one ethnic group off against another, and promoted German and Magyar hegemony over the other ethnic groups in Austria-Hungary.
Taylor went on to lecture in history at Manchester University before becoming a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford in 1938, a post he held until 1964. After 1964, when Oxford refused to renew Taylor's term, Taylor was a lecturer at the Institute of Historical Research in London, University College of London, and the Polytechnic College of North London. At Oxford, Taylor was an extraordinarily popular professor who had to give his lectures at 8:30 AM in order to prevent over-crowding in his classroom.
Until 1936, Taylor was an opponent of British rearmament, as he felt that a re-armed Britain would ally itself with Germany against the Soviet Union. After 1936, Taylor fervently criticized appeasement, a stance he would disavow in 1961. In 1938, Taylor denounced the Munich Agreement at several rallies; later he would compare the relatively smaller number of Czechoslovak dead with the number of Polish dead.
World War Two and Cold War
During World War Two, Taylor served in the Home Guard, and befriended émigré statesmen from Eastern Europe such as the former Hungarian President Count Mihály Károlyi and the Czechoslovak President Dr. Edvard Benes; these friendships helped to enhance Taylor's understanding of the region. His friendship with Benes and Károlyi may help explain his friendly portrayal of these two leaders, in particular Károlyi who Taylor portrayed as a saintly figure. Taylor was later to proudly claim that he advised Benes to embark upon the expulsion of the entire German population of Czechoslovakia after the war. During the same period, Taylor was employed by the Political Warfare Executive as an expert on Central Europe. During the war, Taylor lobbied for British recognition of Josip Broz Tito‘s Partisans as the legitimate government of Yugoslavia. World War Two further increased Taylor’s pro-Soviet feelings as he was always profoundly grateful for the Red Army's role in destroying Nazi Germany.
Throughout his life, Taylor was basically sympathetic to the Soviets. Likewise, Taylor was bitterly anti-American, blaming the United States for the Cold War, to which he was opposed. In the 1950s and 1960s, Taylor was one of the leading lights of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Despite his pro-Soviet feelings, Taylor was not entirely blind to the crimes of the Soviet regime. In 1948 he attended and did his best to sabotage a Stalinist cultural congress in Wrocław, Poland. Taylor's speech, which was broadcast live on Polish radio and via speakers on the streets of Wrocław on the right of everyone to hold different views from those who hold power was enthusiastically received by the delegates and was met with thunderous applause. Taylor’s speech was clearly intended as a rebuke to a speech given by the Soviet writer Alexander Fadeyev the previous day who had demanded absolute and total obedience on the part of everyone to Joseph Stalin. However, despite this act of dissent, Taylor always felt that the United States was the principal threat to world peace and that the Americans were guilty of far worse acts than the Soviets. For this reason, Taylor never visited the United States, despite receiving many invitations.
Taylor's speciality was Central European, British and diplomatic history, especially the Habsburg dynasty and Bismarck. Taylor held fierce Germanophobic views. In 1944, he was temporarily banned from the BBC following complaints about a series of lectures he gave on air in which he gave full vent to his anti-German feelings. In his 1945 book, The Course of German History, Taylor argued that National Socialism was the inevitable product of the entire history of the Germans going back to the days of the Germanic tribes. Taylor was an early champion of what has since been called the Sonderweg (Special Way) interpretation of German history; namely that German culture and society developed over the centuries in such a way as to make Nazi Germany a preordained conclusion. In particular, Taylor accused the Germans of waging an endless Drang nach Osten against their hapless Slavic neighbours since the days of Charlemagne. For Taylor, Nazi racial imperialism was only a continuation of policies pursued by every German ruler.
Taylor was a prolific writer who wrote dozens of books and hundreds upon hundreds of articles and book reviews. Starting in 1931, Taylor worked as book reviewer for the Manchester Guardian, and from 1957 onwards, Taylor served as a columnist with the Observer newspaper. From these writings, Taylor helped to popularise the term the Establishment to describe Britain's elite. Some have credited Taylor with first coining the phrase "the Establishment" in a 1953 book review, but this is disputed. On August 29, 1953 Taylor while reviewing a biography of William Cobbett in The New Statesmen Taylor wrote "The Establishment draws in recruits from outside as soon as they are ready to conform to its standards and become respectable. There is nothing more agreeable in life than to make peace with the Establishment-and nothing more corrupting". Taylor often took stands on the great issues of his time. As a Little Englander, he was opposed to the British Empire, against Britain's participation in the European Economic Community and NATO, and he demanded British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. Taylor argued in a 1976 speech in Dublin that it would be best for Britain if London would agree to letting the IRA, whom Taylor regarded as freedom-fighters, expel the entire Protestant Unionist population of Northern Ireland in the same manner that the Czechoslovak government had expelled the ethnic Germans of the Sudetenland after World War Two.
However he became a good friend of and wrote the biography of the Conservative Lord Beaverbrook who strongly believed in the British Empire and whose entry into politics was in support of Andrew Bonar Law a Conservative leader strongly connected with the establishment of Northern Ireland. Despite his disdain for most politicians in his writings, Taylor was fascinated by politics and politicians and often cultivated relations with those who possessed power. Besides for Lord Beaverbrook, whose company Taylor very much enjoyed, Taylor’s favorite politician was the Labor Party leader Michael Foot, who Taylor often described as the greatest Prime Minister Britain never had.
In international affairs, Taylor was opposed to the existence of West Germany, which Taylor saw as a dangerous neo-Nazi state; demonstrated against the Suez War of 1956, though not the Soviet crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, which Taylor believed had saved Hungary from a return to the rule of Admiral Miklós Horthy; championed Israel, which Taylor saw as a model socialist democracy threatened by reactionary Arab dictatorships and condemned the Korean War and Vietnam War. In 1950, Taylor was again temporarily banned by the BBC when he attempted to deliver a radio address against British participation in the Korean War. After a public outcry, the BBC relented and allowed Taylor to deliver his address.
Taylor was fearless in championing unpopular people and causes. In 1980, Taylor resigned from the British Academy to protest against the expulsion of the art historian and Soviet spy Anthony Blunt, which Taylor saw as an act of McCarthyism. Closer to his work as a historian, Taylor championed less government secrecy and more open access to government archives, and, perhaps ironically for a staunch leftist, fought for more privately-owned television stations. Taylor’s experiences with being banned by the BBC had led him to appreciate the value of having multiple broadcasters rather than having just one broadcaster that could easily silence those it disapproved of by banning them.
In regard to the government archives, Taylor's lobbying campaign was partly successful as he was able to persuade the British government to replace the 100 Year Rule, which sealed government papers for a century, with the 30 Year Rule, which sealed government documents for thirty years. Taylor had wanted a 20 Year Rule, but was still well satisfied with the 30 Year Rule as a vast improvement over the 100 Year Rule.
Philosophy Of History
Taylor’s approach to history was a populist one. Taylor felt that history should be accessible to all and was fond of the monikers applied to him, namely the “People’s Historian” and the “Everyman’s Historian”. Taylor usually favoured an anti-Great man theory of history with instead of history being dominated by towering figures of genius, rather in Taylor's view history was made for the most part by towering figures of stupidity. Taylor specialized in narratives suffused with irony and humour that were meant to entertain as much as they informed. Taylor was fond of examining history from odd angles and exposing what he considered to be the pomposities of various historical characters. In particular, Taylor was famed for “Taylorisms”: witty, epigrammatic, and sometimes cryptic remarks that were meant to expose what Taylor considered to be the absurdities and paradoxes of modern international relations. Taylor’s determination to bring history to everyone helps to explain his frequent appearances first on radio and later on television.
He was one of the first television historians. In 1957, 1957-1958 and in 1961 Taylor starred in a number of TV shows on ITV in which he lectured for a half-hour per show without the benefit of notes and with perfect delivery on a variety of topics such as the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the First World War. Taylor had a famous rivalry with the right-wing historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, whom he often debated on television. One of the more famous exchanges between Trevor-Roper and Taylor took place in 1961. Trevor-Roper had stated “I’m afraid that your book [The Origins of the Second World War] may damage your reputation as a historian”. To which, Taylor replied “Your criticism of me would damage your reputation as a historian, if you had one”.
The origins of Taylor’s dispute with Trevor-Roper went back to 1957 when the Regius Professorship for History came open at Oxford. Despite their divergent political philosophies, Taylor and Trevor-Roper had been friends ever since the early 1950s, but with the possibility of the Regius Professorship, both men lobbied hard for the prestigious position. The Conservative Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan awarded the title of Regius Professor to the Tory Trevor-Roper rather than the Labourite Taylor. In public, Taylor declared that he would have never accepted any honour from a government that had “the blood of Suez on its hands”. In private, Taylor was intensely disappointed and furious with Trevor-Roper for holding an honour that Taylor considered rightfully his. From that time on, Taylor never missed a chance to disparage Trevor-Roper’s character or scholarship. The famously combative and feisty Trevor-Roper in his turn reciprocated these feelings in full. The feud between Trevor-Roper and Taylor was given much publicity by the media not so much because of intrinsic merits of their disputes but rather because their acrimonious debates on television made for entertaining viewing. Likewise, the various articles written by Taylor and Trevor-Roper denouncing each other’s scholarship, in which both men’s considerable powers of invective were employed with maximum effect, made for entertaining reading. Beyond that, it was fashionable to portray the dispute between Taylor and Trevor-Roper as a battle between generations. Taylor, who in fact nearly a decade older than Trevor-Roper, was with his populist, irreverent style was represented by the media as a symbol of the younger generation that was coming of age in the 1950s-1960s. Trevor-Roper who was unabashedly old-fashioned (Trevor-Roper was one of the last Oxford dons to lecture while wearing the professor’s robes) and inclined to behave in a manner that the media could and did easily portray as pompous and conceited, was represented as a symbol of the older generation. A subtle but important difference in the style between the two historians was their manner of addressing each other during their TV debates: Trevor-Roper always addressed Taylor as “Mr. Taylor” or just simply “Taylor” while Taylor always addressed Trevor-Roper as “Hugh”.
Another frequent sparring partner on TV for Taylor was the writer Malcolm Muggeridge. The frequent television appearances helped to make Taylor the most famous British historian of the 20th century. It was a measure of Taylor's fame that he was featured in a cameo in the 1981 film Time Bandits. Historians normally do not possess sufficient fame with the general public to be offered movie cameos. He was also mentioned by name (and subsequently slain by a mounted knight resembling King Arthur) in the cult classic, Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail , more evidence of his fame with the general public. Another foray into the world of entertainment occurred in the 1960s when Taylor served as the historical consultant on both the stage and film versions of Oh, What A Lovely War!. Though Taylor possessed great charm, charisma, and a sense of humour, as he aged, he presented himself as and came to be seen as cantankerous and irascible by the public.
In 1954, he published his masterpiece, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918, and he followed it up with The Trouble Makers in 1957, a critical study of British foreign policy. The Trouble Makers was a celebration of those who had criticized the government over foreign policy issues, a subject dear to Taylor's heart. The Trouble Makers had originally been the Ford Lectures in 1955 and was Taylor's favorite book by far. Ironically, when invited to deliver the Ford Lectures, Taylor was initially at a loss for a topic, and it was his friend Alan Bullock who suggested the topic of foreign policy dissent. In 1961, he published by far his most controversial book, The Origins of the Second World War, which earned him a reputation as a revisionist.
As an active socialist, Taylor saw the existing capitalist system as wrong on both practical and moral grounds. He felt that the status quo in the West prevented an international system that would be just and moral from coming into being. In particular, Taylor saw the status quo as incredibly unstable and prone to accidents. A recurring theme in Taylor's writings was the role of accidents in deciding history. In Taylor's view, leaders did not make history; instead they reacted to events. In Taylor's view, what happened in the past was due to sequences of blunders and errors that were largely outside anyone's control. To the extent that anyone made anything happen in history, it was only through their mistakes. Thus, in his biography of Bismarck, Taylor argued that the Iron Chancellor had unified Germany more by accident than by design.
Origins of The Second World War Controversy
These ideas were most clearly expressed in The Origins of the Second World War, where Taylor argued that the widespread belief that the outbreak of war in 1939 was Hitler's plan was wrong. Taylor's thesis was that Hitler was not the demoniacal figure of popular imagination, but in the field of foreign affairs, just a normal German leader. Citing Fritz Fischer, Taylor argued that the foreign policy of the Third Reich was the same foreign policy of the Weimar Republic and the Second Reich. Moreover, in a partial break with his view of German history advocated in The Course of German History, Taylor argued that Hitler was not just a normal German leader, but also a normal Western leader. As a normal Western leader, Hitler was no better or worse than Stresemann, Chamberlain or Daladier. Taylor's argument was that Hitler wished to make Germany the strongest power in Europe, but he did not want or plan war. The outbreak of war in 1939 was an unfortunate accident caused by mistakes on everyone's part.
Most notably, Taylor portrayed Hitler as a grasping opportunist with no other beliefs other than the pursuit of power and anti-Semitism. Taylor argued that Hitler did not possess any sort of programme, and his foreign policy was one of aimless drift and seizing chances as they offered themselves. Even Hitler’s anti-Semitism Taylor did not consider unique as in a foreshowing of the arguments that Daniel Goldhagen was to make decades later, Taylor argued that millions of Germans and Austrians were just as ferociously anti-Semitic as Hitler was, and thus there was no reason to single out Hitler for sharing the beliefs of millions of others. The Origins of the Second World War set off a huge storm of controversy and debate that lasted for years.
The reaction to The Origins of the Second World War was almost unanimously negative when it was published in 1961. At least part of the vehement criticism was due to the confusion in the public’s mind between Taylor’s book and another book published in 1961, Der Erzwungene Krieg (The Forced War) by the American neo-Nazi historian David Hoggan. Taylor himself strongly criticized Hoggan’s thesis that Germany was the innocent victim of an Anglo-Polish conspiracy in 1939 as nonsense, but many of Taylor’s critics confused Taylor’s thesis with Hoggan’s. Most of the criticism centered around Taylor’s arguments for appeasement as a rational political strategy, his depiction of World War Two as an “accident” caused by diplomatic blunders, his portrayal of Hitler as a “normal leader”, and what many considered his flippant dismissal of Nazi ideology as a motivating force. Leading the charge against Taylor was his arch-enemy Trevor-Roper, who contended that Taylor had willfully and egregiously misinterpreted the historical evidence. In particular, Trevor-Roper criticized Taylor’s argument that the Hossbach Memorandum of 1937 was a meaningless document because none of the scenarios outlined in the Memorandum actually occurred. In Trevor-Roper’s opinion, what really mattered about the Hossbach Memorandum was that Hitler clearly expressed an intention to go to war sooner rather than later in the Memorandum, and it was Hitler’s intentions rather his plans at that precise moment in history which mattered. Other historians who strongly criticized The Origins of the Second World War included such diverse scholars as Isaac Deutscher, Louis Morton, Barbara Tuchman, Ian Morrow, G.F. Hudson, Elizabeth Wiskemann, W.N. Medlicott, John Lukacs, Karl Dietrich Bracher, Frank Freidel, F.H. Hinsley, John Wheeler-Bennett, Golo Mann, Lucy Dawidowicz, Gordon A. Craig, A. L. Rowse, Raymond Sontag, Andreas Hillgruber, and Yehuda Bauer. Of all these critics, it was Rowse, who once been a close friend of Taylor's, who attacked Taylor with an intensity and vehemence that was second to only Trevor-Roper’s attacks.
In general, the opinion of most historians is to side with Taylor’s critics rather than Taylor in this debate. However, The Origins of the Second World War is regarded as a watershed event in the historiography of the origins of World War Two. In general, historians have praised Taylor for the following:
- By showing that appeasement was a popular policy and that there was a continuity in British foreign policy before and after 1933, Taylor forever shattered the then-popular view of the appeasers as a small, degenerate clique which had mysteriously hi-jacked the British government sometime in the 1930s and who had carried their policies in the face of massive public resistance.
- Likewise by portraying the leaders of the 1930s as real people attempting to deal with real problems, Taylor made the first strides towards attempting an explanation for the actions of the appeasers rather than merely condemning them.
- By showing that the Anschluss was enormously popular in Austria, Taylor helped to discredit the then-popular notion of Austria as a victim of Nazi aggression brought unwillingly into the Reich.
- By highlighting certain continuities in German foreign policy between 1871-1939, Taylor helped to place Nazi foreign policy in a wider perspective, through the exact degree of continuity is still subject to considerable debate.
- By focusing on the improvised character of German and Italian foreign policy, Taylor helped to create a debate over the degree that fascist states were fulfilling a programme versus taking advantage of events.
- Finally, by showing that Hitler just as often reacted as acted, Taylor offered a balance to previous accounts where Hitler was portrayed as the sole active agent and the leaders of Britain and France as entirely reactive.
In the aftermath of the controversy occasioned by The Origins of the Second World War, many felt that Taylor was discredited forever as a historian, a point reinforced by the University of Oxford’s refusal to renew his teaching term in 1964. However in 1965, Taylor rebounded with the spectacular success of his book English History 1914-1945, Taylor’s only venture into social and cultural history, where Taylor offered a loving, affectionate portrayal of the years between 1914-1945. English History 1914-1945 was enormous bestseller and in its first year of print sold more then all of the previous volumes of the Oxford History of England had combined. Through Taylor felt there was much to be ashamed of in British history, especially in regard to Ireland, Taylor was very proud to be both British and more specifically English. Taylor, who was fond of stressing his Non-Conformist Northern English background saw himself as part of a grand tradition of radical dissident and protest that Taylor regarded as the real glorious history of England.
Though Taylor normally preferred to portray leaders as fools blundering their way forward, it is fair to add that Taylor did think that individuals sometimes could play a positive role in history. Taylor's heroes were Vladmir Lenin and David Lloyd George. But for Taylor, individuals like Lloyd George and Lenin were the exceptions, not the rule. Another individual Taylor admired was the historian E.H. Carr, who was Taylor's favourite historian and a good friend.
One of Taylor’s finer moments occurred in the 1960s when he became the first English language historian and indeed the first historian after Hans Mommsen to accept the conclusions of the book The Reichstag Fire by the journalist Fritz Tobias that the Nazis in fact had not set the Reichstag on fire in 1933 and that Marinus van der Lubbe had acted alone. What Tobias and Taylor argued had happened was that the new Nazi government had been looking for something to increase its share of the vote in the upcoming elections of March 5, 1933, so as to activate the Enabling Act and that van der Lubbe had serendipitously (for the Nazis) provided that something by burning down the Reichstag. Even without the Reichstag fire, the Nazis were quite determined to destroy German democracy. In Taylor’s opinion, van der Lubbe had made their task easier by providing a pretext. Moreover, the German Communist propaganda chief Willi Münzenberg and his OGPU handlers had manufactured all of the evidence implicating the Nazis in the arson. In particular, Tobias and Taylor pointed out that the so-called "secret tunnels" that supposedly gave the Nazis access to the Reichstag never existed. At the time Taylor was widely attacked by many other historians for endorsing what was considered to be a self-evident perversion of established historical facts. In particular, so-called “new evidence” suddenly emerged that seemed to implicate the Nazis in the crime, and was taken as proving the falsity of Tobias-Taylor thesis. Unfortunately, for the proponents of the Nazis as the arsonists’ theory, all of the “new evidence” also turned out to be forgeries by the Soviet secret police the KGB and the East German secret police, the Stasi. Today, it is universally accepted by historians that Tobias and Taylor were correct about van der Lubbe as the sole arsonist.
In his 1969 book, War by Timetable, Taylor examined the origins of World War One. In this book, Taylor concluded that though all of the great powers wished to increase their own power relative to the other great powers, none of the great powers consciously sought war before 1914. Instead, Taylor argued that all of the great powers believed that if they possessed the ability to mobilize their armed forces faster than any of the other great powers, this would serve as a sufficient deterrent to avoid war and allow them to achieve their foreign policy goals. Thus, all of the general staffs of the major powers developed elaborate timetables to mobilize faster than any of the rival great powers. When the crisis broke in 1914, though none of the statesmen of Europe wanted a world war, the need to mobilize faster than could potential rivals, created an inexorable movement towards war. Thus, in this way, Taylor claimed that the leaders of 1914 became prisoners of the logic of the mobilization timetable, and the said timetables that were meant to serve as deterrent to stop war instead relentlessly brought war instead.
Taylor also wrote significant introductions to British editions of Ten Days that Shook the World, by John Reed, and The Communist Manifesto, writing from a virulently anti-communist position. It might be noted that Taylor was an advocate of a treaty with the Soviet Union, something that has been tied to his apparent support of Appeasement in his work on the road to the Second World War.
Taylor lived in Disley, Cheshire for a while, where Dylan Thomas (who was his first wife's lover) was his guest; he later provided Thomas with a cottage in Oxford so he could recover from a breakdown. Taylor was married three times. His first wife was Margaret Adams who Taylor married in 1931 (divorced in 1951) and whom he had 3 children by. She was frequently unfaithful towards her husband, but she was the love of Taylor's life. His second wife was Eve Crosland whom Taylor married in 1951 and divorced in 1974; he had two children by her. Even after divorcing his first wife, Taylor continued to live with her in a common-law relationship while maintaining a household with his second wife; this was a virtually bigamous marriage. Much of Taylor's prolific output was motivated by his need to both support his legal and common-law wives. Taylor's third wife was the Hungarian historian Éva Haraszti whom he married in 1976.
Taylor was badly injured in 1984 when he was run-over by an automobile while crossing a street. The effect of the accident coupled with the effects of a stroke led to Taylor’s retirement in 1985. In his last years, Taylor endured Parkinson's disease, which left him incapable of writing. Taylor’s last public appearance occurred at his 80th birthday in 1986 when a group of his former students such as Sir Martin Gilbert, Alan Sked, Norman Davies, and Paul Kennedy organized a public reception in his honour. Taylor had, with considerable difficulty, memorized a short speech, which he delivered at his reception in a manner that managed to successfully hide the fact that his memory and mind had been permanently damaged by the stroke. In 1987 he was committed to a nursing home in London, where he died in 1990.
Taylor possessed a magnificent literary style, which allowed him to get away with many of his more frivolous ideas, such as that the major cause of the First World War was the wrong turn taken by the chauffeur of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. Taylor's views were those of a quirky, idiosyncratic, and flamboyant individualist who adopted the stance of a professional contrarian and gadfly in order to challenge orthodoxies and thus move society towards what he regarded as more humanist behaviour.
- The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918, 1941, revised edition 1948.
- The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918, 1954.
- The Origins of the Second World War, 1961.
- War by Timetable, 1969.
- Beaverbrook, 1972.
- Bismarck: The Man and Statesman, 1955.
- The course of German history: A survey of the development of Germany since 1815, 1945.
- Europe: Grandeur and Decline, 1967.
- The First World War: an illustrated history, 1963
- Germany's first bid for colonies 1884–1885: a move in Bismark's European policy, 1938.
- How wars begin, 1979
- How wars end, 1985.
- The Italian problem in European diplomacy, 1847–1849, 1934.
- The last of old Europe: a grand tour, 1976.
- A Personal History, 1983.
- Politicians, socialism, and historians, 1980.
- An Old Man's Diary, 1984.
- Revolutions and revolutionaries, 1980.
- The Second World War: an illustrated history, 1975.
- The Trouble makers: dissent over foreign policy, 1792–1939, 1957.
- The War lords, 1977
- English History 1914–1945 (Volume XV of the Oxford History of England), 1965.
- Letters to Eva: 1969–1983, edited by Eva Haraszti Taylor, 1991.
- From Napoleon to the Second International: essays on nineteenth-century Europe edited with an introduction by Chris Wrigley, 1993.
- From the Boer War to the Cold War:essays on twentieth century Europe, edited with an introduction by Chris Wrigley, 1995.
- Bosworth, Robert Explaining Auschwitz and Hiroshma: History Writing and the Second World War, 1945-90, London: Routledge, 1993.
- Boyer, John "A.J.P. Taylor and the Art of Modern History" pages 40–72 from Journal of Modern History, Volume 49, Issue #1, 1977.
- Burk, Kathleen Troublemaker: the life and history of A.J.P. Taylor New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.
- Cole, Robert A.J.P Taylor: the Traitor within the Gates London: Macmillan, 1993.
- Cook, Chris and Sked, Alan (editors) Crisis and Controversy : Essays In Honour of A. J. P. Taylor, London : Macmillan Press, 1976
- Dray, William "Concepts of Causation in A.J.P. Taylor's Account of the Origins of the Second World War" pages 149–172 from History and Theory, Volume 17, Issue #1, 1978.
- Gilbert, Martin (editor) A Century of Conflict, 1850-1950; Essays for A.J.P. Taylor, London, H. Hamilton 1966.
- Hauser, Oswald "A.J.P. Taylor" pages 34-39 from Journal of Modern History, Volume 49, Issue #1, 1977.
- Hett, B.C "Goak Here: A.J.P. Taylor and the Origins of the Second World War" pages 257-280 from Canadian Journal of History, Volume 32, Issue #2, 1996.
- Johnson, Paul "A.J.P. Taylor: a saturnine star who had intellectuals rolling in the aisles" page 31 from The Spectator, Volume 300, Issue # 9266, March 11, 2006.
- Louis, William (editor) The Origins of the Second World War: A.J.P Taylor and his Critics, New York: Wiley & Sons, 1972.
- Martel, Gordon (editor) The origins of the Second World War reconsidered: A.J.P. Taylor and the historians London; New York: Routledge, 1986, revised edition 1999.
- Mehta, Ved Fly and Fly Bottle: Encounters with British Intellectuals, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962.
- Robertson, Esmonde (editor) The Origins of the Second World War: Historical Interpretations, London: Macmillan, 1971.
- Sisman, Adam A. J. P. Taylor: A Biography London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994.
- Smallwood, J. "A Historical Debate of the 1960s: World War II Historiography-the Origins of the Second World War, A.J.P. Taylor and his Critics" pages 403–410 from Australian Journal of Politics and History, Volume 26, Issue #3, 1980.
- Williams, H. Russell "A.J.P. Taylor" from Historians of Modern Europe edited by Hans Schmitt, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 1971.
- Wrigley, Chris (editor) A.J.P Taylor: A Complete Bibliography and Guide to his Historical and Other Writings, Brighton: Harvester, 1982.
- Wrigley, Chris (editor) Warfare, Diplomacy and Politics : Essays In Honour Of A.J.P. Taylor, London : Hamilton, 1986.