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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2005
I was not as impressed with this anthology as most of the other people who posted reviews. I found it a bit disconcerting there were only a fraction of letters from before the 19th century. I'm sure that was a prolific letter writing century but really, there have to be earlier letters than that. Some of the love letters weren't even love letters! The one from Michaelangelo to Vittoria Colonna was more a commentary on the weather. At least half of the letters showcased their best (which was sometimes the only) loving lines in the letter in the hard-to-read cursive at the beginning. Some of them are very wonderful letters which is why it got three stars. I found Jack Kerouac's to Sebastian Sampas to be quite entertaining and George Bush Sr.'s letter to Barbara was touching. Buy this at a discount price if you must have it, maybe you'll be more impressed than I was.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2005
This book is a beautiful collection of deep and candid feelings of love and admiration. I hope to one day share this book with my future husband, wherever he may be. This is an inspiring book. An amazing feature is that writers, artists, composers such as Mozart, American Presidents and other famous people we incorporate ideas and generate thoughts about have part of their souls exposed to us in each page. We are all the same in God's eyes and feelings of love have always been. Nothing's new; only repeated and celebrated.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2002
This is a glorious book. Of course, you have to love little things like history and literature and romance to really enjoy it. But even if you only adore one out of those three, you'll enjoy peeking into the initimate lives of these letter writers.
There are just over four dozen wonderful letters to indulge in. Love shared from knowns and unknowns. You can melt your heart with the words of Harry Truman to Bess Wallace or light a fire in your soul with words to Philip Legler from Anne Sexton.
Take yourself back in time to your own first love with Franz Kafka's passion, ". . .for hours on end my head hums with the desire to hear the name Felice."
Too corny for you? OK. I can accept that. Maybe you're not a mushy kind-a sort, that's cool. But everyone can identify with the kind of love expressed by Horatio Nelson to Emma Hamilton, "I hope to have letters from you who I hold dearer than any other person in this world."
We ALL hold someone dearer than all others--don't we?
Can't we all understand George Bush's words to Barbara Bush?
". . .To know that you love me means my life."
It's all here: everything from "Tender Love" to "Crazy for You" love. There's "Passionate Prose" and "Painful Separations." There's "Fire and Ice" and "Forbidden Love."
These words, that were once intended for only one other person in the world to read, have a wide appeal. Because love is worldwide. Some of these letters are a difficult read, I won't fool you. But the other 99% are charming and elegant, worthy of a slow read.
My favorite part (you knew I'd have to share it) are seven passionate words penned by Elizabeth Barrett Browning to her brother. She's speaking to him about her husband Robert Browning. ". . .he loved me with no ordinary affection."
Heavy sigh. . .
Finally, Oscar Wilde wrote to Constance Wilde, "The air is full of the music of your voice, my soul and body seem no longer mine, but mingled in some exquisite ecstasy with yours."
Wow! Where can you find a better midnight read than this stuff?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The hype offends. Why the 'fifty greatest love letters' of all time? Why not 'fifty great love - letters?' That too would be misleading as there are not fifty great letters here. In fact there may not even be ten. What there is is very small excerpts of a number of good love- letters, including those from some of the great love- letter writers of all- time. The tremendous letter of Elizabeth Browning to her brother George telling the story of Browning's love for her, and how it wholly changed her life is to my mind the supreme letter of the collection, and one of the greatest love - letters of all time. I am not a great fan of Simone de Beauvoir especially since learning of the true character of her relationship with Sartre but her love- letter to Nelson Algren really hits hard. Her expression of a total love, a love in happiness and pain is powerful and winning.
On the other hand Kafka one of the world's greatest letter- writers is not so well represented by the selection given here. The editor claims Hemingway's letters to Mary Welch are among the greatest love - letters ever written. The selection he gives here does not prove this.
Nonetheless there is a great deal to enjoy here. The introductions and capsule biographies before each letter often take up more space than the excerpts themselves, but they are quite interesting .
All in all as with most 'anthologies' of this kind there is valuable writing to be found in this work.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2002
Rather than bore the reader with a parade of cute love letters, David Lowenherz's volume The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time includes the full range of emotions of a passionate relationship. The book is divided into the sections Tender Love, Crazy for You, Passionate Prose, Painful Separations, Fire and Ice and Forbidden Love. From a desperate letter of serial monogamist Ernest Hemingway to an irate letter of Frank Lloyd Wright this volume will surprise and entertain readers of all interests. These letters provide a surprising glimpse into the private lives of such luminaries as Voltaire, anarchist Emma Goldman, Elizabeth I, Benjamin Franklin and Lewis Carroll. And Lowenherz carefully puts each letter into context bringing out the intent and spirit of each. The volume also includes many illustrations of the letters, their writers and the recipients.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2002
In this compilation we are treated to the pleasure of not only interesting love letters but also to glimpses of the inner thoughts of the luminaries who penned them. Each of these well-chosen letters comes equipped with a short text describing the situation surrounding the letter and the personal stories of the people involved. These descriptive texts illuminate the letters, allowing us to share in the joys and pains of the authors and recipients. I found the personal, tender and sometimes comic tone of the letters to be a delightfully balanced read, never becoming too dark, too frivolous, too contemporary or too ancient. By the end of the book one really feels like one's been taken on the great roller coaster ride of love and we're reminded how terrifyingly wonderful it can be.
The book is a must have not only for the literary and historically minded set who will be wowed by the interesting personal details and historical situations, but also for anyone who wants to re-experience the joys (and pains) of love. It' makes a great gift too!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Previously, I reviewed David Lowenherz' latest book (THE 50
GREATEST LETTERS FROM AMERICA'S WARS) . . . I liked it
so much that I felt compelled to find and read his first book,
THE 50 GREATES LOVE LETTERS OF ALL TIME . . . if
anything, it was even better!
It is one thing to read an e-mail, fax or instant message; it is
quite something different to read an actual love letter that has
been put down in writing . . . but best of all, not only do you
get to read the letter, you also get to find out what happened
afterwards to both the writer and recipient via the author's
commentary.
I liked the various groupings that were used: tender love, crazy
for you, passionate prose, painful separations, fire and ice, and
forbidden love . . . also, I enjoyed the diverse range of writers
that were chosen, ranging from Mozart to George Bush and
including such other notables as Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
Harry Truman, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemmingway,
Virginia Woolf, Alfred Dreyfus, Oscar Wilde, James Thurber,
and Frank Lloyd Wright.
It would be hard to choose any one letter as "best," so rather
than try, let me just share the following correspondence
written by Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan as a tribute
to their loving and supportive relationship:
March 4, 1981
Dear First Lady
As Pres. of the U.S., it is my honor & privilege to cite you for service above
and beyond the call of duty in that you have made one man (me) the most
happy man in the world for 29 years.
Beginning in 1951, Nancy Davis, seeing the plight of a lonely man who didn't
know how lonely he really was, determined to rescue him from a completely
empty life. Refusing to be rebuffed by a certain amount of stupidity on his
part she ignored his somewhat slow response. With patience & tenderness
she gradually brought the light of understanding to his darkened obtuse
mind and he discovered the joy of loving someone, with all his heart.
Nancy Davis then went on to bring him happiness for the next 29 years as
Nancy Davis Reagan for which she has received & will continue to receive
his undying devotion forever & ever.
She has done this in spite of the fact that he still can't find the words to
tell her how lost he would be without her. He sits in the Oval office from
which he can see (if he scrooches down) her window and feels warm all
over just knowing she is there.
The above is the statement of the man who benefited from her act of
heroism.
The below is his signature.
Ronald Reagan-Pres. of the U.S.
P.S. He-I mean, I love and adore you.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2002
I'm usually skeptical of anthologies, and I'm sure that there were more than a few great love letters that didn't make this lineup, but this overview of billet-doux through the ages is nothing short of enchanting. The writing, the beautiful cover and even the occasional photos are elegant as writing should be and idiosyncratic, as letter writers must be.
While most of the letters range from romantic to passionate, Editor Lowenherz doesn't show just the rosy side of love, either. There are more than a few bitter, furious and scathing letters from former lovers here that all but scorch the page (this is apparently what people had to resort to before the telephone). It's great fun to see that even for the famous, the talented and the legendary, the course of true love did not run smooth. And for the romantic, the true love that is reflected in many of these letters is touching--especially the ones penned by less likely romantics, like Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. This is a wonderfully literate collection that hits the mark for lovers everywhere.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2011
I have read reviews of this book where people complained that the letters featured were not "romantic" enough. If however, you read the preface of the book the author is clear that the letters were chosen for the depth of feeling they convey and not always romantic love. I enjoyed the book very much and keep it as a coffee table book in my home.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2009
Great entertainment. By far my favorite letter is by George Bush (the first), who would have thought he could be a romantic. Interesting read and good fun.
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