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Letters of Note: Volume 2: An Eclectic…

Letters of Note: Volume 2: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence…

by Shaun Usher

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Have you ever wished that you could surreptitiously read someone elses mail? Not for any nefarious reasons, but just to get to know this person a little better. Just to see what they considered worthy of sitting down and writing about. This beautiful book satisfies that curiosity and provides an 'average' person look at the mindset via the personal written word of some 'not-so-average' folks. You will have heard of most of the writers, others will be new to you, but all of them have something interesting to say. It's a peek at their questions, love, despair, wonderings, wanderings, good news, and calamities.

The book contains copies (photo's) of some of the letters and notes that we never get to see unless we are the recipient. This book can be a slow read (a letter or two a day) and a compelling read on a rainy day. You'll find things that you never knew and just how much we all share as humans facings the same challenges and joys. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning about other people who thought that only the receiver would ever read their letter and how profoundly we are all the same. ( )
  TheFlamingoReads | Apr 9, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've read letters on the Letters of Note site from time to time, so I was excited to receive this from LTER. It is a finished copy, and is absolutely beautiful in hardback, with transcripts of the letters as well as photos of them in many cases. The subtitle promises an eclectic collection, and that is certainly delivered - from a letter from a woman Roman Britain inviting another woman to her birthday party to one from John Lennon to Eric Claption, and everything in between. I appreciated the inclusion of non-American letters, such as one from Che Guevara to his children and one from a prominent Czech socialist to her daughter shortly before her execution. Some letters are light-hearted and some are deadly serious. It took me a long time to read this book because it's not the kind of thing you really sit down with and read cover to cover, but instead visit for a few minutes here and there to see what treasures await. Treasures like a letter from Gene Wilder about his wardrobe for Willie Wonka, and a letter from Katherine Mansfield to her husband's mistress - you really never know what you might find the next time you open the book. One of my favorites is the letter the book ends with, which is from a British soldier describing the impromptu Christmas truce with some German troops in World War I. It's the kind of thing you've heard about, but reading it described to folks back home by someone who experienced it is amazing.

The book would be a great one to have on the coffee table. I'm sure it would draw people in to pick it up and whatever they find is likely to spark some sort of conversation! ( )
  ursula | Mar 16, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have (and love) Usher’s Lists of Note but missed out on the first collection of letters; after reading this, I’ll be sure to track a copy down.

Like Lists, this book is put together beautifully. The layout includes a short bit of background about each letter, a reproduction of the letter or a transcription (very helpful for olde time cursive), and, sometimes, a related image.

If there is an order to the letters, it isn’t obvious. (The subtitle says it is an Eclectic Collection!) I appreciated this — for all that they span thousands of years, people are pretty much the same.
  Sarahsponda | Mar 5, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love this book! It is lavishly printed, with full-page reproductions of the letters and, where appropriate, transcriptions and/or translations. Some of the material is from famous people, others from ordinary folks. Some is thousands of years old, others modern. And the letters come from around the world, such that one who reads the book can not help but be struck by how much we share with our fellow humans. My favorite letter included a thousand-of-years-old note from a young Egyptian man to his dead parents, complaining about his good-for-nothing brother and asking for them to (spiritually) intercede, and an amazing letter from a young Winston Churchill to the Boer commander whose prison camp he was about to escape during the Second Boer War. I received this wonderful book in a LibraryThing Giveaway. ( )
1 vote julieandbeli | Jan 31, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Shaun Usher’s Volume 2 of Letters of Note is, once again, fabulous. One can’t help becoming engrossed in each letter, shown in its original form and the letter-writer’s own hand. Seeing the actual penmanship adds so much to our mental imagery of the writer. Often a photograph accompanies the letter along with a brief write-up providing some background information pertaining to the letter or the relationship of the parties involved. For those of us with an inquiring mind, the diversity of the chosen letters creates a springboard for further research or inquiry into an author, person, or subject. Martha Gellhorn’s letter to Hemingway enticed me to pull out some of my Hemingway biographies. After reading the lively letter Mozart wrote to his cousin, Marianne, I found myself playing a few minuets on the old turntable! It’s just a delightful and eclectic assortment of correspondence from a wide range of famous people. No need to read from beginning to end—just open anywhere at anytime and learn something new and fascinating! I am left wondering, however, what will become of our knowledge of people in the future as letter-writing becomes more and more of a dying practice; as the majority of modern correspondence is left to electronic modes of communication such as emails, voice messaging, texting, and the like? Will any documents remain at all? For now though, we have the good fortune of insightful and dedicated people, like Shaun Usher. I’m hoping there’ll be a Volume 3!!! ( )
  curlylocks | Jan 27, 2017 |
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From the editor of the New York Times bestseller Letters of Note comes this companion volume of more than 125 letters, a collection of correspondence that spans centuries and place, written by the famous, the not-so-famous, and the downright infamous. Entries are accompanied by a transcript of the letter, a short contextual introduction, and an illustration--in most cases, a facsimile of the letter itself.… (more)

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