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The Song Before It Is Sung

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The Song Before It Is Sung Cover

ISBN13: 9781596912687
ISBN10: 1596912685
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. He had the main conspirators brutally strung up on meat hooks. Among the executed was Axel von Gottberg, a German Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who returned home in 1934, to the dismay of his Oxford friends, particularly Elya Mendel.

Sixty years later, Elya, now a distinguished professor, leaves behind a collection of papers and letters to a former student, Conrad Senior, and asks him to find out the truth about Axel, whom he had condemned as a Nazi sympathizer. But the more Conrad tries to uncover the truth, the more complex he finds the relationship between the two friends, especially in their involvement with two beautiful English cousins. As Conrad investigates obsessively, his own life comes apart. Weaving darkly through these complex stories is an infamous film of Axel's execution; a film which Conrad is desperate to find, for reasons he can barely understand himself.

Wonderfully written — and based on true events — The Song Before It Is Sung is a novel of profound and sensitive insight into the human condition, spanning Oxford in the 1930s, prewar Prussia, and contemporary Britain and surpassing all of Cartwright's previous works in its scope and ambition.

Review:

"'Based on the lives of Adam von Trott and Isaiah Berlin, Cartwright's unsttling 12th novel follows Axel von Gottberg, a German, and his friend Elya Mendel, a British Jew, both Rhodes scholars at idyllic 1930s Oxford. Gottberg returns to Germany in 1934, ostensibly to rally opposition to Hitler, but Mendel publicly denounces him as a Nazi. Sixty years after Gottberg was executed for his role in the failed German coup of 1944, a dying Mendel entrusts his papers to a former student, Conrad Senior, and bids him to discover whether he had unjustly condemned his late friend. Senior, an insouciant writer whose life is a shambles, is transfixed by Gottberg, a 'man of courage and action,' a womanizer with an 'operatic' flair and a love for Hegel. Cartwright's treatment of the unsuccessful attempt on Hitler's life in 1944 is gripping. Conrad fails to see what an ambiguous figure Gottberg was — diffident about the fate of the Jews and finally concerned less about his country than his own achievements. The prose can be surprisingly hackneyed, while the characters rarely rise above caricature. It is difficult to discern whether the novel's sophistry, soap opera dialogue and lionizing of the ineffective German resistance are ironic. (July)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[B]eautifully conceived and written....[T]his novel surely places Cartwright in the company of the finest English novelists at work today." Seattle Times

Review:

Mr. Cartwright's impressive achievement lies in his ability to penetrate beyond easy moral certitudes, to evoke the recent past and, not least, to make the reader understand just how much was at stake back then." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"[A] heartbreaking roman à clef." Denver Post

Synopsis:

On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. He had the main conspirators brutally strung up on meat hooks. Among the executed was Axel von Gottberg, a German Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who returned home in 1934, to the dismay of his Oxford friends, particularly Elya Mendel.

Sixty years later, Elya, now a distinguished professor, leaves behind a collection of papers and letters to a former student, Conrad Senior, and asks him to find out the truth about Axel, whom he had condemned as a Nazi sympathizer. But the more Conrad tries to uncover the truth, the more complex he finds the relationship between the two friends, especially in their involvement with two beautiful English cousins. As Conrad investigates obsessively, his own life comes apart. Weaving darkly through these complex stories is an infamous film of Axel's execution; a film which Conrad is desperate to find, for reasons he can barely understand himself.

Wonderfully written--and based on true events--The Song Before It Is Sung is a novel of profound and sensitive insight into the human condition, spanning Oxford in the 1930s, prewar Prussia, and contemporary Britain and surpassing all of Cartwright's previous works in its scope and ambition.

Synopsis:

On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. He had the main conspirators brutally strung up on meat hooks. Among the executed was Axel von Gottberg, a German Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who returned home in 1934, to the dismay of his Oxford friends, particularly Elya Mendel.

Sixty years later, Elya, now a distinguished professor, leaves behind a collection of papers and letters to a former student, Conrad Senior, and asks him to find out the truth about Axel, whom he had condemned as a Nazi sympathizer. But the more Conrad tries to uncover the truth, the more complex he finds the relationship between the two friends, especially in their involvement with two beautiful English cousins. As Conrad investigates obsessively, his own life comes apart. Weaving darkly through these complex stories is an infamous film of Axel's execution; a film which Conrad is desperate to find, for reasons he can barely understand himself.

Wonderfully written—and based on true events—The Song Before It Is Sung is a novel of profound and sensitive insight into the human condition, spanning Oxford in the 1930s, prewar Prussia, and contemporary Britain and surpassing all of Cartwright's previous works in its scope and ambition.

Justin Cartwright is the author of In Every Face I Meet, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize; Leading the Cheers, which won the Whitbread; White Lightning, which was shortlisted for the 2002 Whitbread; and, most recently, The Promise of Happiness, which won the 2005 Hawthornden Prize and the South African Sunday Times Fiction Award. He was born in South Africa but has lived all his adult life, since graduating from Oxford, in London.
On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. He had the main conspirators brutally strung up on meat hooks. Among the executed was Axel von Gottberg, a German Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who returned home in 1934, to the dismay of his Oxford friends, particularly Elya Mendel.

Sixty years later, Elya, now a distinguished professor, leaves behind a collection of papers and letters to a former student, Conrad Senior, and asks him to find out the truth about Axel, whom he had condemned as a Nazi sympathizer. But the more Conrad tries to uncover the truth, the more complex he finds the relationship between the two friends, especially in their involvement with two beautiful English cousins. As Conrad investigates obsessively, his own life comes apart. Weaving darkly through these complex stories is an infamous film of Axel's execution; a film which Conrad is desperate to find, for reasons he can barely understand himself.

Wonderfully written—and based on true events—The Song Before It Is Sung is a novel of profound and sensitive insight into the human condition, spanning Oxford in the 1930s, prewar Prussia, and contemporary Britain and surpassing all of Cartwright's previous works in its scope and ambition.

"This tour de force explores the 'paper-thin divide between idealism and delusion,' while resonating on many levels. Sure to reward any reader concerned with the issues of that appalling time."—Library Journal
 
"In July 1944, a serious attempt was made on Adolf Hitler's life. That actual event serves as the basis for a darkly effective fictionalized depiction of one man's participation in the conspiracy, by a prizewinning South African-born novelist. The group members who attempted to take the fuhrer's life were tried and executed in a horrible fashion, among them a young Prussian count, called here Axel von Gottberg, who had been educated at Oxford in the 1930s and there became the close friend of Elya Mendel, an English Jew who eventually became a distinguished professor. In the present day, Mendel has left his collection of letters from Axel to a student, Conrad Senior, whose charge is to organize the papers. Consequently, he is faced with sorting out the dimensions of their relationship. The Count caused a rift between himself and Mendel when he returned to Germany in 1934 and published a letter in an English newspaper that made him appear to be a Nazi sympathizer. The twin themes upon which this novel is constructed—personal betrayal and vicarious living (Senior finds himself 'living more fully' through Mendel's and the Count's lives)—greatly entice readers' interest on political, historical, and intellectual levels."—Brad Hooper, Booklist (starred review)
 
"Based on the lives of Adam von Trott and Isaiah Berlin, Cartwright's unsettling twelfth novel follows Axel von Gottberg, a German, and his friend Elya Mendel, a British Jew, both Rhodes scholars at idyllic 1930s Oxford. Gottberg returns to Germany in 1934, ostensibly to rally opposition to Hitler, but Mendel publicly denounces him as a Nazi. Sixty years after Gottberg was executed for his role in the failed German coup of 1944, a dying Mendel entrusts his papers to a former student, Conrad Senior, and bids him to discover whether he had unjustly condemned his late friend. Senior, an insouciant writer whose life is a shambles, is transfixed by Gottberg, a 'man of courage and action,' a womanizer with an 'operatic' flair and a love for Hegel. Cartwright's treatment of the unsuccessful attempt on Hitler's life in 1944 is gripping. Conrad fails to see what an ambiguous figure Gottberg was—diffident about the fate of the Jews and finally concerned less about his country than his own achievements."—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Justin Cartwright is the author of In Every Face I Meet, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Commonwealth Writer's Prize; Leading the Cheers, which won the Whitbread; White Lightning, which was shortlisted for the 2002 Whitbread; and, most recently, The Promise of Happiness, which won the 2005 Hawthornden Prize and the South African Sunday Times Fiction Award, forthcoming this spring as a paperback. He was born in South Africa but has lived all his adult life, since graduating from Oxford, in London.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

ErnieY, August 12, 2007 (view all comments by ErnieY)
This is a gripping, enriching portrait of actual events explored through the lens of a fine novelist with a sense of the moral and political ambiguity. It concerns the entanglement of the lives of Elys Mendel (British political philosopher Isaiah Berlin) and Axel von Gottberg (German aristocrat Adam von Trott), two fellow Rhodes scholars, who become caught up in the unfolding vortex of powerful forces that led to World War II and the persecution and death of millions of Jews. Seen through the eyes and quotidian life of one of Mendel's student decades later, the plot is driven by Conrad Senior's obsessive drive to untangle the central puzzle of this afflicted relationship: the contradiction between von Gottberg's friendship-straining letter to a British newspaper exonerating the Germans of Jewish persecution in thirties; Germany and his eventual participation in the unsuccessful military plot to kill Hitler. As the moral equivocations and political conundrums unravel, author Cartwright highlights the tension between the role of individual action and contingency in history and the seeming ineluctability of larger structural elements that brought Nazism to power, unleashed the cunning of unreason, and triggered a devastating world war.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781596912687
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Cartwright, Justin
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Subject:
General
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
World war, 1939-1945
Subject:
Anti-nazi movement
Subject:
London (england)
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20070710
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Product details 288 pages Bloomsbury USA - English 9781596912687 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Based on the lives of Adam von Trott and Isaiah Berlin, Cartwright's unsttling 12th novel follows Axel von Gottberg, a German, and his friend Elya Mendel, a British Jew, both Rhodes scholars at idyllic 1930s Oxford. Gottberg returns to Germany in 1934, ostensibly to rally opposition to Hitler, but Mendel publicly denounces him as a Nazi. Sixty years after Gottberg was executed for his role in the failed German coup of 1944, a dying Mendel entrusts his papers to a former student, Conrad Senior, and bids him to discover whether he had unjustly condemned his late friend. Senior, an insouciant writer whose life is a shambles, is transfixed by Gottberg, a 'man of courage and action,' a womanizer with an 'operatic' flair and a love for Hegel. Cartwright's treatment of the unsuccessful attempt on Hitler's life in 1944 is gripping. Conrad fails to see what an ambiguous figure Gottberg was — diffident about the fate of the Jews and finally concerned less about his country than his own achievements. The prose can be surprisingly hackneyed, while the characters rarely rise above caricature. It is difficult to discern whether the novel's sophistry, soap opera dialogue and lionizing of the ineffective German resistance are ironic. (July)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[B]eautifully conceived and written....[T]his novel surely places Cartwright in the company of the finest English novelists at work today."
"Review" by , Mr. Cartwright's impressive achievement lies in his ability to penetrate beyond easy moral certitudes, to evoke the recent past and, not least, to make the reader understand just how much was at stake back then."
"Review" by , "[A] heartbreaking roman à clef."
"Synopsis" by ,
On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. He had the main conspirators brutally strung up on meat hooks. Among the executed was Axel von Gottberg, a German Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who returned home in 1934, to the dismay of his Oxford friends, particularly Elya Mendel.

Sixty years later, Elya, now a distinguished professor, leaves behind a collection of papers and letters to a former student, Conrad Senior, and asks him to find out the truth about Axel, whom he had condemned as a Nazi sympathizer. But the more Conrad tries to uncover the truth, the more complex he finds the relationship between the two friends, especially in their involvement with two beautiful English cousins. As Conrad investigates obsessively, his own life comes apart. Weaving darkly through these complex stories is an infamous film of Axel's execution; a film which Conrad is desperate to find, for reasons he can barely understand himself.

Wonderfully written--and based on true events--The Song Before It Is Sung is a novel of profound and sensitive insight into the human condition, spanning Oxford in the 1930s, prewar Prussia, and contemporary Britain and surpassing all of Cartwright's previous works in its scope and ambition.

"Synopsis" by ,
On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. He had the main conspirators brutally strung up on meat hooks. Among the executed was Axel von Gottberg, a German Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who returned home in 1934, to the dismay of his Oxford friends, particularly Elya Mendel.

Sixty years later, Elya, now a distinguished professor, leaves behind a collection of papers and letters to a former student, Conrad Senior, and asks him to find out the truth about Axel, whom he had condemned as a Nazi sympathizer. But the more Conrad tries to uncover the truth, the more complex he finds the relationship between the two friends, especially in their involvement with two beautiful English cousins. As Conrad investigates obsessively, his own life comes apart. Weaving darkly through these complex stories is an infamous film of Axel's execution; a film which Conrad is desperate to find, for reasons he can barely understand himself.

Wonderfully written—and based on true events—The Song Before It Is Sung is a novel of profound and sensitive insight into the human condition, spanning Oxford in the 1930s, prewar Prussia, and contemporary Britain and surpassing all of Cartwright's previous works in its scope and ambition.

Justin Cartwright is the author of In Every Face I Meet, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize; Leading the Cheers, which won the Whitbread; White Lightning, which was shortlisted for the 2002 Whitbread; and, most recently, The Promise of Happiness, which won the 2005 Hawthornden Prize and the South African Sunday Times Fiction Award. He was born in South Africa but has lived all his adult life, since graduating from Oxford, in London.
On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. He had the main conspirators brutally strung up on meat hooks. Among the executed was Axel von Gottberg, a German Rhodes Scholar at Oxford who returned home in 1934, to the dismay of his Oxford friends, particularly Elya Mendel.

Sixty years later, Elya, now a distinguished professor, leaves behind a collection of papers and letters to a former student, Conrad Senior, and asks him to find out the truth about Axel, whom he had condemned as a Nazi sympathizer. But the more Conrad tries to uncover the truth, the more complex he finds the relationship between the two friends, especially in their involvement with two beautiful English cousins. As Conrad investigates obsessively, his own life comes apart. Weaving darkly through these complex stories is an infamous film of Axel's execution; a film which Conrad is desperate to find, for reasons he can barely understand himself.

Wonderfully written—and based on true events—The Song Before It Is Sung is a novel of profound and sensitive insight into the human condition, spanning Oxford in the 1930s, prewar Prussia, and contemporary Britain and surpassing all of Cartwright's previous works in its scope and ambition.

"This tour de force explores the 'paper-thin divide between idealism and delusion,' while resonating on many levels. Sure to reward any reader concerned with the issues of that appalling time."—Library Journal
 
"In July 1944, a serious attempt was made on Adolf Hitler's life. That actual event serves as the basis for a darkly effective fictionalized depiction of one man's participation in the conspiracy, by a prizewinning South African-born novelist. The group members who attempted to take the fuhrer's life were tried and executed in a horrible fashion, among them a young Prussian count, called here Axel von Gottberg, who had been educated at Oxford in the 1930s and there became the close friend of Elya Mendel, an English Jew who eventually became a distinguished professor. In the present day, Mendel has left his collection of letters from Axel to a student, Conrad Senior, whose charge is to organize the papers. Consequently, he is faced with sorting out the dimensions of their relationship. The Count caused a rift between himself and Mendel when he returned to Germany in 1934 and published a letter in an English newspaper that made him appear to be a Nazi sympathizer. The twin themes upon which this novel is constructed—personal betrayal and vicarious living (Senior finds himself 'living more fully' through Mendel's and the Count's lives)—greatly entice readers' interest on political, historical, and intellectual levels."—Brad Hooper, Booklist (starred review)
 
"Based on the lives of Adam von Trott and Isaiah Berlin, Cartwright's unsettling twelfth novel follows Axel von Gottberg, a German, and his friend Elya Mendel, a British Jew, both Rhodes scholars at idyllic 1930s Oxford. Gottberg returns to Germany in 1934, ostensibly to rally opposition to Hitler, but Mendel publicly denounces him as a Nazi. Sixty years after Gottberg was executed for his role in the failed German coup of 1944, a dying Mendel entrusts his papers to a former student, Conrad Senior, and bids him to discover whether he had unjustly condemned his late friend. Senior, an insouciant writer whose life is a shambles, is transfixed by Gottberg, a 'man of courage and action,' a womanizer with an 'operatic' flair and a love for Hegel. Cartwright's treatment of the unsuccessful attempt on Hitler's life in 1944 is gripping. Conrad fails to see what an ambiguous figure Gottberg was—diffident about the fate of the Jews and finally concerned less about his country than his own achievements."—Publishers Weekly

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