Start reading The Song Before it is Sung on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.
The Song Before it is Sung

The Song Before it is Sung [Kindle Edition]

Justin Cartwright
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
Kindle Price: £0.51 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £8.48 (94%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £0.51  
Hardcover --  
Paperback £7.19  
Audio, Cassette --  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: At least 60% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Product Description


`Cartwright sets up plenty of competing ideologies in an intelligent but accessible novel that ultimately questions what lessons we can truly hope to learn from the ever mutable narratives of history' -- Metro

`Cartwright's song does truly soar' -- Independent

`Justin Cartwright's new novel is a richly detailed evocation of one of the darkest periods of history, and an eloquent exploration of human fallibility and guilt' -- The Times

`A harrowing read about Hitler and execution, from one of our finest novelists' -- Independent

The Scotsman

Cartwright is a beautifully evocative writer; also one who makes you think.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 430 KB
  • Print Length: 270 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0747585947
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (20 July 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002ROKQN8
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,499 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one you should not miss 21 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very good book indeed. As other reviewers have noted it is a story based on the friendship of the emigre philosopher Isaiah Berlin and the German patrician Adam von Trott which foundered under the pressure of events in the 30s.

But it is much more than a thinly disguised recounting of that story. It is a satisfying, sad, very funny (at times) and completely engaging reflection on love, friendship, failure, happiness and different perceptions of honour. A measure of its strength and success is that although the outcome of the main plot and one or two sub-plots are known from the outset the story-telling never loses its rhythm or attraction. The intensity of the attempt to assassinate Hitler is very exciting when it enters the final sequence and the story holds the readers attention until the last page. There is no false resolution to the story to serve a spurious need to tie up ends. Life often ends as it begins -- in a messy way without purpose or any deep ulterior sugnificance -- which is itself one of the subplots. Excellent
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A portrait of heroic failure 7 May 2007
By Mr. F. Ledwidge VINE VOICE
This is one version of the story of the friendship between Isaiah Berlin and Adam von Trott, and a moving and credible journey it is. The novel brings to life not so much the academic life of the 1930s from which this friendship orginated, but the stresses in the German upper classes at that time.

This is also the story of their marginalisation. They had lost their power and influence , but never quite realised it. The Staufenburg plot, which forms the climax of this book, epitomised their heroic failure. This novel gets into the skin of the German aristocrat, and for that alone is well worth the read. The various sub-plots are well-constructed and carry the story forward with pace. This is a very good book.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This sounded so amazing from the reviews that i bought it outright instead of just downloading the normal sample. I f I hadn't done that, I probably wouldn't have bothered to finish it. The ideas are really interesting and it should work but for me the present day narrator is just far too annoying. I found it hard to believe he was some woman magnet as the book kind of implies as, from the way he behaves, in my head he was an infuriating loser!. I found myself either struggling to find him believable or else finding him incredibly annoying.

Having said that, there were elements of the story that were unbelievably moving and it was fascinating to get an insight into a resistance to the Germany being created by Hitler. It was also heartbreaking to know that the resistance was doomed to failure and, as the pace of events progressed, I found myself willing the plot to assassinate Hitler to succeed and for Von Staffen to survive, even though I knew that was not going to happen. Both tragic and moving, ultimately I was glad I persisted but wished I could have had more respect for Conrad. It was hard to see why he would have been entrusted with the task of collating the memoirs.
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Oxford book of ideas and their consequences 25 Mar 2010
By William Cohen VINE VOICE
Since I feel at a similar loose end to the narrator at this moment, I enjoyed this book very much. It's ambitious and just about comes off. To me it contrasted the conflict between striving for high ideals (Conrad and Axel), against the soulless pursuit of human ends (epitomised by Francine and Mendel). Even the drug-addled girlfriend seems to be favoured for her pursuit of the reckless and unconventional.

I enjoyed following the historical parallels, but I found there was not much point dwelling on them. Far better to see the novel on its own terms. All in all, a nourishing intellectual novel.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking 5 April 2008
Very few books seem utterly true to life as most of us live it. Very few books can reduce me to tears. This is one. It is a book of enormous beauty and absolute honesty. Bravo!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly compelling. 5 Mar 2007
The Irish Times described this as a truly great novel, and I agree. It's quite a complex book about two friends from pre-war Oxford, one a Jewish philosopher, one a Prussian nobleman, whose friendship founders when the

German goes back to Nazi Germany. Later he is hanged for his part in the plot of l944. All this is investigated by a student of the philosopher,

Conrad Senior. His obsession with what happened and his belief that the film of the hangings, made by Hitler, causes his marriage to fall apart.

Cartwright maintains the two narratives with compelling skill so that

I found I could barely breathe at times, and I certainly couldn't put the book down. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful...
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it now 14 Jun 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
How can anyone write a book this good? Justin Cartwright struggles to write an indifferent sentence, let alone a poor book, but this one must be his best yet.

Maybe Bloomsbury don't bother too much with promoting their authors - with J.K.Rowling in the stable why should they bother?- but the fact that Cartwright is still a minority taste suggests there is something profoundly wrong somewhere. The combination of deeply moving storyline, complex and minutely thought through personal relationships and philosophical dilemmas, all written in sublime prose, make this the novel of the year for me. Instantly, this book catapults into my all time top ten and, after a second reading, I suspect it will climb higher still. I couldn't recommend it more.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars WWII
this writing of the dramas behind the Hitler was illuminating, The book brought other aspects of this period. I WILL LOOK FOR OTHER jUSTAIN CARTWRIGHT BOOKS: Judith
Published 9 days ago by herbertcoleman
5.0 out of 5 stars this was a really gripping story. It made me think about the...
couldn't put this book down as I read about a German man who has the position of influence during the war and how he uses that influence and what that subsequently meant for his... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mishka Astle
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written story.
A very interesting book which describes the way in which the friendship of its two central historical characters is placed under intolerable strain by the rise of Nazism and the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by GreenInk
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my books of the year
So glad to have found this, even though the horror and sadness of it doesn't go away. Beautiful style, fascinating characters, great sense of place and time.
Published 5 months ago by serpentine
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Read
I bought this book after reading several of the reviews and have to say found it compelling in every way. Read more
Published 18 months ago by C. A. Price
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read.....
In July 1944 Hitler narrowly escaped assassination plotted by his own generals. His revenge was swift and gruesome. Read more
Published on 21 May 2012 by Wynne Kelly
2.0 out of 5 stars Moving & unforgettable re-creation of the Hitler bomb plot
This is a beautifully written novel about the effect on a contemporary author of his attempt to trace the developement of the failed plot to assassinate Hitler and its... Read more
Published on 19 Feb 2012 by Leopold
3.0 out of 5 stars Creating a song by singing it
This unusual novel was inspired by the friendship, strained by the outbreak of World War 2, between the Oxford-based Jewish philosopher Isaiah Berlin and the German aristocrat... Read more
Published on 5 Feb 2012 by Antenna
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, intelligent story!
I really enjoyed this book and could hardly put it down. The story was based around a true event in the second world war and was written with perception, compassion and superb... Read more
Published on 8 Oct 2011 by marshwader
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadfully dull
After reading 2 chapters, I gave up on this rather dull and boring book. Perhaps if you enjoy a more intellectual read, you will feel differently but if you like something that... Read more
Published on 8 Oct 2011 by R. Macrae
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Popular Highlights

 (What's this?)
books are the bees that carry the quickening pollen from one mind to another. &quote;
Highlighted by 21 Kindle users
We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. &quote;
Highlighted by 18 Kindle users
it is the inexplicable nature of consciousness to make personal meaning and significance out of the random. &quote;
Highlighted by 13 Kindle users

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
Detective Novel were the main character is gay 1 1 Jul 2011
See all discussions...  
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions

Customers Who Highlighted This Item Also Highlighted

Look for similar items by category