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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a biography
Although this is a long book at over 800 pages it is more than a biography of one man who started life in Weimar Germany and finished his life in England, and who almost single handed wrote the 46 volumes of The Buildings of England. It has two other strands; firstly why architecture and art history matter, and secondly the history of the politics and life under Nazi...
Published on 14 Sep 2011 by A. S. Goldingham

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars much too long
Nikolaus Pevsner was worth a biography. His life story was interesting, and his influence considerable. But was he worth 800 pages? Claire Tomalin's acclaimed biography of the prolific Charles Dickens is scarcely more than half the length of this. The problem seems to be that the author stumbled across a cache of personal material; and by golly she was determined to use...
Published 20 months ago by Stephen


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a biography, 14 Sep 2011
By 
A. S. Goldingham (Dorset, England) - See all my reviews
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Although this is a long book at over 800 pages it is more than a biography of one man who started life in Weimar Germany and finished his life in England, and who almost single handed wrote the 46 volumes of The Buildings of England. It has two other strands; firstly why architecture and art history matter, and secondly the history of the politics and life under Nazi Germany, war time Britain and the years of recovery, that shaped this man's life. Susie Harries has produced an extremely well researched biographical tour de force - the source notes cover about 30 pages and there are also page footnotes by way of explanation where necessary. I found it very hard to put down whenever other matters needed my attention.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare insight, 8 Nov 2011
I loved this book. For anyone who cares about the domestic, urban and political landscape that shapes their everyday world - this is about a man who also not only cared, but spent his life sharing his understanding and intellect with everyman if they were open or wise enough to listen. The fact that Sir Nickolaus's failings are recognised not only in the book, but to a large extent by himself, only underlines his value as a teacher and thinker. I was engrossed and will carry phrases from it with me: "...unused linen, for want of a cupboard", and while in internment, "..time for half a glass of landscape". The book is an illustration of what a person can achieve when they have the courage of their convictions alongside the humility to question themselves at every step. An illuminating and memorable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Susie Harries:Nikolaus Pevsner The Life, 9 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life (Pimlico) (Paperback)
Nikolaus Pevsner's life is an essential part of English architecture. He was one who became naturalized at an early period of his life and was knighted. His views are as valid as ever.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A unique book, 8 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life (Pimlico) (Paperback)
People have relied on the Pevsner guides for many decades: it is so good to learn about the man behind these invaluable studies of English buildings and Susie Harries book is so readable.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars much too long, 2 Nov 2012
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Nikolaus Pevsner was worth a biography. His life story was interesting, and his influence considerable. But was he worth 800 pages? Claire Tomalin's acclaimed biography of the prolific Charles Dickens is scarcely more than half the length of this. The problem seems to be that the author stumbled across a cache of personal material; and by golly she was determined to use as much of it as possible. So we get page after page on his relationship with his wife, the outline of which is clear early on, and as a specific example we get a page and a half on Pevsner's voyage on a liner to the USA in 1949.

There is good stuff here on the Buildings of England, and on Pevsner's other scholarly work, which covered an unusual range, but the book constantly gets bogged down in detail.

They do say it is harder to write a good short book than a long one.....
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Published Reviews, 15 Aug 2011
OBSERVER 7th AUGUST 2011 by GEORGE WALDEN: A towering account of the German-born scholar who chronicled England's most significant buildings ... A perfect blend of events, ideas and personal narrative, it is a masterpiece of the biographical genre 20 years in the making.

LITERARY REVIEW AUGUST 2011 by SIMON HEFFER: Susie Harries has produced one of the finest biographies I have read for years.

EVENING STANDARD 11TH AUGUST 2011 by KEIRAN LONG: ... monumental and very readable

GUARDIAN 12th AUGUST 2011by CRITICAL EYE: Few books have occasioned the contest of superlatives with which Susie Harries's 'Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life' has been greeted.

TIMES 13TH AUGUST 2011 by IAN FINLAYSON: This biography is an important and heroic work of reclamation and rehabilitation.

TELEGRAPH 13th AUGUST 2011 by PETER PARKER: a moving portrait of a seemingly distant age

FINANCIAL TIMES AUGUST 2011 by A N WILSON: This is a tremendous book about a subject that engages us all ... As befits the study of one of our greatest cultural historians, it is also a story of why architecture matters and, at a deeper level, how Europeans evolved the particular living spaces and political systems we see today.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal, touching and Fascinating, 6 Sep 2012
By 
T. Hodgson - See all my reviews
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Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life is an extensive, thoroughly researched and compulsive read. Suzie HArris gives life to Britains most celebrated Architectual historians through the skillful use sources and insight. Although released a year after Stephen Games'Pevsner The Early Life: Germany and Art the biography still feels fresh and in many ways rings more true. Harris gained access to a trunk of PEvsner's personal diaries from the family which he keapt almost religously from the age of 14 to the end of his life. These prove to be the most interesting aspect of the book as it allows Harris to use Pevsner's own most private thoughts and ideas in her re-construction of his life.

Born in Leipzig in 1902 into a bourgeois Jewish family Pevsner experienced many of the important cultural, political and historical events which shaped the modern world. From his early career in the Weimar republic he experienced the rise of NAzism (even naively becoming facsinated with movement for a short time) before losing his job in the univeristy due to his religion. Moving to Britain in 1933 the book then details his struggles to build a career in the difficult and snobbish world of British Architectural History. However it is in the level of personal detail that the story becomes fascinating PEvsners relationships with his family, his love for his wife Lola and their sometimes tempestous realtionship, and his personal self soubt all combine to leave the reader feeling that they actually new the man himself.

Although the book is probably aimed at readers who are familiar with PEvsner's work already it is nonetheless an enjoyable read for anyone who is interested in 20th century history and culture. Harris' prose style is effortlessly interesting and Nikolaus PEvsner's own humour and personality are transmitted fantastically.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pevsner a life, 16 Jan 2012
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Dr. Leon Kaufman (London) - See all my reviews
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This book is well researched but is far too long at 800 pages.Many will never have heard of Pevsner unless one was aware of his contributiion on buildings of England of which I have most.Part of the problem is that the author wishes to show off her knowledge of the history of art.On page 320 ther is an obvious error of the Cotswolds in which she writes of BROAD TOWN -no such place exists and it should be BROADWAY and the house is Snowshill manor and not Snowhill.The book is too specialised for the average reader and will probably appeal to lovers of art. Leon Kaufman
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, tepid, and over-rated, 23 Jan 2012
At a mere 800 pages long, and with no particular insights, this is a tepid piece of work, and it's hard to understand why the author undertook it, or why it took her so many years to say so little. Bevis Hillier wrote about John Betjeman at twice the length, and was obviously moved by a profound admiration, perhaps bordering on love; it's not obvious what Miss Harris's motivation has been. She shows no obvious understanding of her subject, or the world he moved in. A great disappointment.
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Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life (Pimlico)
Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life (Pimlico) by Susie Harries (Paperback - 4 April 2013)
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