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The Song Before It Is Sung: A Novel by…
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The Song Before It Is Sung: A Novel

by Justin Cartwright

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199659,063 (3.51)12

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Conrad Senior is left a legacy of papers and letters by his Oxford teacher and mentor, Elya Mendel, upon his death. They are an account of Mendel's friendship with a German, Axel von Gottberg, one of the conspirators who attempted to assasinate Hitler on July 20th 1944.Following the failed attempt, the conspirators were all hanged.
Conrad becomes obsessed with researching the event in an effort to write a true and honest account of the friendship between Elya and Axel and the brutal murder of these brave German men who tried to put an end to Hitler's leadership and show the world that there were still honorable German people. ( )
  HelenBaker | Nov 11, 2017 |
Ordinarily this wouldn’t have been my cup of tea, but I did decide, after reading the excellent ‘The Promise of Happiness’ that I wanted to read more by this author. This one was a bit different though -the early stages were so tough it was like trying to push a piano uphill. It was about eighty pages before things straightened out.

The story centres around a failed plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944 and is based on real events. A lot of effort goes into the analysis of the friendship between one of the conspirators and a Jewish scholar living in London at the time. A lot of the deep stuff passed me by I’m afraid, but as the momentum of the story picks up towards the end it is quite gripping and worth sticking with. The depth of the author’s research is reflected in the authentic feel of the sections that take place inside Nazi Germany, and in terms of reflecting the attitudes of Germans towards Hitler and his treatment of the Jews it was illuminating and thought provoking.

The relatively low star rating I have given this book relates to my personal experience of it, and my inability to grasp some of the points it was undoubtedly making. It cannot be denied that this is a stupendously intelligent piece of work, and on literary value alone should probably rank much higher. ( )
  jayne_charles | May 2, 2011 |
What a brilliant book! Serious, moving, and thoughtful. It's based on the story of the friendship of Adam von Trott, who was hung for his part in an attempt to assassinate Hitler, and Isaiah Berlin, the Jewish philosopher. In the book, von Trott and Berlin are fictionalised as von Gottberg and Mendel, and their story is told partly through the eyes of Conrad Senior, a modern would-be historian, who has been left Mendel's papers. Von Gottberg's and Mendel's life appear, at times,to be more real to Senior than his own life, with his marriage disintegrating. The structure of the book is complex, but not confusing - sometime set in the present, sometimes being set in the past, sometimes through letters. How much of the story is real, and how much fiction? Is it faction? To be honest, I just put this to one side, and just enjoyed it for what it is. ( )
1 vote michaeldwebb | Feb 15, 2010 |
I really thought that I would like this book. I'm fascinated by this time period, and the plots to assassinate Hitler have always intrigued me. However, this book was so boring that I had to force myself to read it. The author no doubt has a commanding vocabulary, but his writing style and word choices made the book a chore to read. I've read dry textbooks that had more life to them than this novel. ( )
  schatzi | Dec 10, 2009 |
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Sixty years after the death of Axel von Gottberg, who is executed for plotting the assassination of Adolf Hitler, the death of Axel's old friend, Elya Mendel sends Conrad Senior on a quest into the past to uncover the truth about Axel, his life, and his death.… (more)

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