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Lili Marlene: The Soldiers' Song of World War II Hardcover – November 17, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (November 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393065847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393065848
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,130,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1941, a German-controlled radio station in Belgrade broadcast a recording that soldiers later referred to affectionately as Lili Marlene. Leibovitz (Aliya) and Miller (a Columbia School of Journalism student) offer this fascinating history of one of the world's most recorded tunes, detailing the careers of the artists involved in its creation. The original lyrics, based on Hans Leip's poem Song of a Young Sentry, were set to music by Norbert Schultze and evoked every woman left behind at home to wait and worry. Singer Lale Anderson's rendition transfixed soldiers from both sides of the war throughout Europe and North Africa. So potent was the song, it caused unofficial cease-fires when it played nightly. Set against the rise of Nazism, the authors paint chilling portraits of the megalomaniacal Joseph Goebbels and the cruel machinations of German culture boss Hans Hinkel. Despite the Nazis' attempts to censor the words, or the Allies' rewriting the lyrics, the original recording captured the true essence of the song. Lili Marlene was a reminder of unity, hope, and brotherhood, bringing soldiers to tears and comfort to the women left behind. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Not even the most iconic of songs necessarily deserves its very own biography, but in the case of that Second World War classic, "Lili Marlene," dear to soldiers and civilians on both sides, there really is a fascinating story to tell. Forged in the crucible of 20th-century German history, a First World War favorite composers, recorded by an ambitious, anti-Nazi singer. Lively and well-informed, this book tells it all, with lots of attention to the travails of those involved. Nazi music had some rousing tunes, but generally the lyrics were rebarbative. Here the sentiments are unobjectionable and universal, just made for a time when the shadow of the barracks gate was bound to heighten romance under lamplight for a world at war.” (The Atlantic)

“... A compelling examination of a simple song's enormous psychological and political power.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“...Leibovitz (Aliya) and Miller (a Columbia School of Journalism student) offer this fascinating history of one of the world's most recorded tunes, detailing the careers of the artists involved in its creation....” (Publishers Weekly)

“A fascinating story. Lively and well-informed, this book tells it all, with lots of attention to the travails of those involved.” (Atlantic Monthly)

More About the Author

I am a breakfast enthusiast, a coffee fanatic, a video game scholar, a husband and a father of two. I come from a long line of rabbis, and even though I'm a few cheeseburgers removed from the faith of my fathers, I take religion very seriously: most of my books are about our attempts -- sometimes desperate, always touching -- to make sense of the divine particles floating all around us. I'm a proud graduate of Columbia University's doctoral program in communications, and teach about games and other digital media at New York University. I believe that the books we write and read are only entry points into conversation, so get in touch via Twitter (@liel) or email (lleibovitz@gmail.com).

Customer Reviews

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Well written, detailed examination of the famous song.
retrotunes1
The song and it tune won immediate popularity with the German troops of World War II and this popularity amazingly transferred on to the Allied troops as well.
lordhoot
If you can't hear the music, when the page loads, you may have to install adobe flash player.
Ken

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on December 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Lili Marlene was one of the most famous love songs ever created or sung. The song and it tune won immediate popularity with the German troops of World War II and this popularity amazingly transferred on to the Allied troops as well. It was so popular among the Allies that the English version of the song was finally done.

This book describes how this song came to be. The author, Han Leip who wrote the lyrics during the First World War, Nobert Schultz who wrote the tune and finally, Lale Andersen who sang it at the beginning of Second World War. The authors skillfully traced the origins of the song, background information on all the major players that led up to the success of this song. It was interesting to note that Joseph Goebbel distaste this song and tried to censored it while Allied leaders were bit dismay themselves that their troops were taken in by a German love song. But the book clearly shows that this song, was written for the common soldiers and its words and meanings transcended military front lines. The subtitle of the book, "Soldiers' Song of World War II" proves to be very accurate.

If I may be allowed to whine a little, I thought it would have been a nice addition if there was a CD attached to this book that we could have listen to, both Andersen and Marlene Dietrich versions of this song. That would have been rich although the price of the book may have gone up a bit.

Nevertheless, a well written book that should interest anyone that like to read about World War II without the weapons, battles and campaigns. It should also interest anyone who are into music history as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By h s truman on November 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
most war time books focus either on the military machine that initiated the war or the military machine on the other side that felt compelled to defend themselves. with liebowitz and miller's book "lili marlene" we are exposed to a view of wartime experienced by the combatant or civilian who typically had very different goals than the generals. we see that the average soldier for the most part entered the war with either mixed feelings or more likely entered the army against his will and from the beginning was mostly concerned with getting home alive and unharmed. his thoughts were not the grandiose ideas of world domination but rather seeing his wife or girlfriend and family. the powerful and touching song lili marlene seemed to convey all of these warm notions to soldiers and civilians alike. what apparently made this song so special was that it not only transcended nationalities but ideological boundaries as well. germans, brits, americans and apparently all the european combatants were touched by this song and for that reason the military commands tried to silence it. i found the authors telling of the story to be more about what really matters to soldiers in a war than about the song itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
On August 18, 1941, Soldier’s Radio Belgrade, the Armed Forces Radio of the German Army, began airing a little ditty called “Song of a Young Sentry.” It was a vaguely martial, vaguely sad song about a young soldier and his sweetheart, Lili Marlene. The station was swamped by letter from soldiers asking that they again play, “Lili Marlene.” The song was a runaway hit, and not just among the German soldiers, its popularity spread among the German civilians, and then to people throughout the world. This is the story of a simple little poem that became a simple little song that spoke to an entire generation at war.

I was familiar with Marlene Dietrich’s version of Lili Marlene, and as such I was very happy when this song fell into my hands. The author does an excellent job of tell the story of history of Lili Marlene. Indeed, this isn’t just the story of a song, it’s the story of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany, and the affects it had on the many artists of Germany.

This is a very interesting read, quite an interesting history told from a unique position. I really enjoyed reading this book, and felts sorry when it was over. I highly recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Theodore A. Rushton on November 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the truly great love songs of World War II has inspired this book, a lyrical account of how 'Lili Marlene' came to be and the reactions it produced.

Obviously, though it of German origins, anything this good had to be detested by the Nazis. It was. The twisted little mind of Joseph Goebbels, whose words were amplified to express the ruling hate of the Nazis from 1933 - 1945, sought only words and songs to glorify force, conquest and domination. He couldn't understand love nor nostalgia.

For millions of German and Allied soldiers, this song expresses the reason they endured so much; not for the grand glory of politics or ideals, but for the loved ones who waited at home. Politicians send vast armies far afield in search of conquest, glory and their own petty ego; soldiers have little option except to obey or die.

Every soldier knows failure may endanger those at home. American soldiers didn't charge into battle carrying President Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" pledge in one hand and a rifle in the other; instead, they carried pictures and letters from wives, sweethearts, children and parents. Even a stranger's encouragement means more than silence.

They longed to win and be home again. In the meantime, they had 'The White Cliffs of Dover' in England, 'White Christmas' (written in Phoenix in 1940) for Americans, and 'Lili' for everyone. It was not only nostalgia; its haunting melancholy reminded soldiers of the daily reality that "a dance of death lingers between its bars."

This book does it justice. It nicely recalls Lale Anderson's "husky, sensuous, nostalgic, sugar-sweet" voice.
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