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Noble Endeavours: The life of two countries, England and Germany, in many stories by [Seymour, Miranda]
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Noble Endeavours: The life of two countries, England and Germany, in many stories Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Length: 512 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled

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Review

'[Seymour's] account of the First World War is both riveting and moving... a gripping read and a new and strangely uplifting perspective on relations between these two countries' Literary Review

'Most readable and compulsive... By writing her book as a patchwork of individual tales, Seymour allows this story of torn loyalties and proliferating influences to retain its messiness and its colour' Guardian

'Miranda Seymour's thesis in her hugely entertaining and absorbing study Noble Endeavours, which keeps the political, military and diplomatic dimensions as a framework and focuses on two centuries of personal relationships, families and friendships to make the case' Daily Telegraph

'Seymour's high-minded, wide-ranging new history... is a gallery of pen portraits of those who, over four centuries, have happily crossed between England and Germany with little sense of strain or antagonism, only admiration and fondness' Sunday Times

'Miranda Seymour deserves to be hailed for her courage, generosity, imagination and decency' Observer

'Seymour's masterstroke is to engage and teach us by letting the stories of real people shine through... a timely reminder of a delicate, deeply felt relationship between two countries' Daily Express

'An impressive work and a welcome balance to the plethora of histories of the two world wars' The Spectator

'Noble Endeavours expands like an accordion, stories opening into more stories, and the whole propelled by prose that is lean and intricate. The book, which could be read for style alone, is an education and a handshake not only with the past, but with the present. A noble endeavour, indeed' Telegraph

'Seymour provides an eloquent, perceptive and often moving account of that broader, longer and more benign sweep of history' The Times

'Noble Endeavours is indeed a noble endeavour, encyclopaedic in its scope, beautifully organised and written, and very moving, as these two cousinly nations are driven asunder by war. A wonderful subject' Michael Frayn

'An ambitious study' The Lady

'An arresting account of a complex and multi-faceted subject' Country Life

'Miranda Seymour's research is meticulous, and many of her vignettes are lively and perceptive' Caroline Moorehead, Times Literary Supplement

'This is an impressive, meticulously researched and thought-provoking history... the book is indeed a noble endeavor, worth of admiration' History Today

'Miranda Seymour celebrates the old bond [Anglo-German relations] through the lives of diplomats, artists, musicians, political refugees and migrant workers with energy, enthusiasm and affection. An absorbing, heartening read' --Tablet

About the Author

Miranda Seymour, author of the award-winning In My Father's House has written many acclaimed novels and biographies, including lives of Mary Shelley, Robert Graves, Ottoline Morrell and Helle Nice, the Bugatti Queen.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6540 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AHENDBM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #266,921 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A dense book packed with incident, anecdote and a huge cast of real characters. Miranda Seymour feels like an author who cares deeply about her subjects. Sometimes it feels that a little more background would be useful. for example she mentions " Charlie Albany" a few times, being interested in Victorian history, I knew the story about how he came to be Duke of Saxe-Coburg , but my husband who also read the book did not and had to look for an explanation of who he was. It would have also helped me to have a map of the German states before unification. That said the author has managed to complete a tremendous task and retells the stories so well. Many passages are very moving, Sir Edward Goschen meeting his wounded son at the station especially so.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Miranda Seymour is dismayed by the fact that nearly 70 years after the end of the Second World War the popular media still play on a negative image of the Germans. She has collected a large number of stories of friendly, mutually admiring and/or creative encounters and also marriages between Britons and Germans from 1613 onwards. Some of these are well-known: literary figures, artists, diplomats and politicians; but the majority of them are not. We are introduced to a plethora of unfamiliar individuals. Miranda Seymour is an experienced writer of fiction, non-fiction and children's books; so it is surprising that here her writing is in a few places dense to the point of near-indigestibility as we are swamped with names and with relationships which are hard to remember: an appendix with a few family trees or an expansion of the individual index entries would have been very helpful. Elsewhere the book is more readable, and there are many anecdotes, some amusing, some sad, some touching.

The author knows a great deal about the lives of her characters and feels compelled to spill out everything she knows, so much so that there is a frequent loss of focus on the book's theme, Anglo-German relations; and I also think there is sometimes more detail about political events than is needed. The book is something of a mishmash of high politics and private lives.

The heyday of friendly feelings between the two countries was the period between the late 1790s and 1880s. A large number of Germans actually came to live in Britain - in the 1840s there were some 30,000 German immigrants: workers many of whom spoke no English, and of course middle and upper-class Germans who were attracted to a country ruled by a German dynasty.
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Format: Hardcover
Miranda Seymour's new book is a noble endeavour indeed. By tracing the history of Anglo-German relations from the marriage of James 1's daughter to the Elector Palatine in 1612 to the attempts by Benjamin Britten and others to promote reconciliation after the Second World War, Seymour brilliantly shows that, the horrors of the Holocaust notwithstanding, there is far more that unites the two peoples than divides them. Best of all, the book is a treasure trove of individual stories of the politicians, poets, princes and priests, whose sympathies, like those of the author, span both countries. Outstanding!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has way too many stories and a lot of superfluous detail! I think the focus of the book often gets lost. Definitely needs some sort of character list to refer back to. And while the premise of the book is interesting, charting the relationship both culturally and politically between Germany and Britain, somehow the relationship becomes an end in and of itself. And can someone explain this statement to me. "perhaps it was still more valiant [read 'noble' here,] of Pevsner to continue, until the eve of the war, to defend the very regime [Nazi Germany!] that had deprived him of his livlihood, his academic status...and his homeland." (The words in brackets are mine). She goes on to say that his loyalty to Hitler and Nazi Germany was "heroic" and "does not disgrace him." I think for some of us, that claim is a little hard to take. There may have been some improvements in Germany with the Nazis, but at a huge and terrible price (and that was becoming apparent by 1939!).

While I have always felt that it is a shame to reduce Germany to 12 ignoble years, it is quite understandable that given Germany's role in the destruction of millions of people, that many of us would find it difficult to resurrect her former glory. This country still has a lot to answer to, even 70 years on. But there has always been a connection between these two great nations, and it is certainly interesting to explore it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you didn't know about the love affair between these two countries this book will convince you of its depth - and make you believe in its long future. More than that, it is a love affair that you will, in your turn, come to love.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The relationship between England and Germany has always intrigued me. I have found this book rewarding and enriching in helping to explain a relationship that is rarely discussed intelligently and in an informed way in the UK.

Please come out with a German translation as soon as possible. I am sure that sales will justify the cost.
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