On 20th July, l944, Adolf Hitler escaped death by a miracle in a failed bomb. He found the main conspirators, had them hung from meathooks and their executions filmed. Axel, Count von Gottberg, is one of those hanged by Hitler. Sixty years after his death, his old friend Elya Mendel leaves a legacy of papers and letters to former student Conrad ...
On 20th July, l944, Adolf Hitler escaped death by a miracle in a failed bomb. He found the main conspirators, had them hung from meathooks and their executions filmed. Axel, Count von Gottberg, is one of those hanged by Hitler. Sixty years after his death, his old friend Elya Mendel leaves a legacy of papers and letters to former student Conrad Senior. And, with the legacy comes a mysterious duty. Drawn into a web of jealousy, betrayal, passion and terrible misunderstandings, Conrad's own life and marriage begin to suffer as a result of his obsession with the events of that momentous day in 1944. "The Song Before It Is Sung" recreates the events of one fateful day which could have changed the world and ended the war, bringing Von Gottberg and Mendel vividly and brilliantly to life. Cartwright weaves an extraordinary story of human frailty, degradation and nobility, spanning Oxford in the nineteen thirties, pre-war Prussia and contemporary Britain.
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Publishers Weekly, 2007-05-14 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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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