Critical Mass

Dog Days of Summer Reads: Ellen Heltzel


As we tip toward the holiday, NBCC board member

Ellen Heltzel sends this dispatch:

The most remarkable book I've read this summer is “The Song Before It Is Sung,” by Justin Cartwright (Bloomsbury). The novel is built around the friendship at Oxford between Isaiah Berlin and a German aristocrat who was involved in the 1944 plot to kill Hitler (the bomb went off with Hitler in the room, but the heavy table absorbed much of the damage). Its theme is betrayal.

I'm reading this in concert with Brigitte Hamann's “Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth” (Harcourt, 2005), in preparation for an August trip to the Wagner Festival. Winifred, an Englishwoman who married into the Wagner family and became more German than most Germans (beware the convert),is famously known for remaining loyal to Hitler and his memory until she died in 1980.–Ellen Heltzel