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Comment: Condition: Excellent condition., Excellent condition dust jacket. Binding: Hardback. / Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press / Pub. Date: 2007-12-21 Attributes: Book, 400 pp / Illustrations: B&W Photographs Stock#: 2064235 () * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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The Wagner Clan: The Saga of Germany's Most Illustrious and Infamous Family Hardcover – December 21, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The grandiose life of Richard Wagner—the pronouncements on art and the German soul, the petty groveling for money and favors, the intermittently atrocious politics and intermittently glorious music—was a tough act to follow. Carr (Mahler: A Biography) follows Wagner's descendants through three generations as they fight each other for control of the Bayreuth Festival and, at opportune times, embrace, reject or sweep under the rug their forebear's status as Nazism's spiritual godfather. (It's a bum rap, Carr concludes, after a nuanced analysis of Wagner's writings and music that finds his anti-Semitism vile but muddled and probably not eliminationist.) Much of the story belongs to outsiders who married into the family: Wagner's wife, Cosima, a chillingly implacable anti-Semite; his son-in-law Houston Chamberlain, a racist ideologue revered by the Nazis; and his daughter-in-law Winifred, who clasped Hitler—affectionately dubbed Uncle Wolf by her children—to the family's bosom. Carr's sprightly, fluent narrative places the family in its historical and intellectual context without reducing it to the symbolic effigy it has often become. Photos. (Jan.)
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Review

"One need not be a devotee of Wagner's music to appreciate Mr. Carr's riveting account." -- John M. and Priscilla S. Taylor --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (December 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139757
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,859,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Yes well I thought this was a very interesting book.
April Gaede
Jonathan Carr has done a fine job of presenting a history of the illustrious and notorious Wagners.
C. M Mills
If you are a classical music and opera lover, read the book .
Kathy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on October 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
In this his last book, Jonathan Carr (1942-2008), the biographer of Helmut Schmidt and Gustav Mahler, has written a brilliant collective biography of the Wagner family. He tells the story of Richard Wagner's extraordinary music and of his family's fights over the ownership and control of the Bayreuth music festival.

Wagner backed the 1848 revolutions, but had failed to learn from the 1789 French Revolution which, as Carr points out, "gave a mighty boost to the cause of Jewish emancipation." Wagner's repellent anti-Semitism stains his fame.

Also, the Wagner family was closer to Hitler than any other German family was. They knew Hitler as `Uncle Wolf', so often did he visit their Bayreuth home. The family welcomed his patronage and never distanced themselves from his politics. Later, they showed no remorse and accepted no responsibility for Nazi crimes.

Carr concludes that Wagner was not `particularly to blame for the Holocaust', largely because there were so many other guilty parties. Nor was his music especially palatable to the Nazis, although they used his `Ride of the Valkyries' as sound track to newsreels of their air raids, as did Francis Ford Coppola to scenes of US helicopter attacks on Vietnam in `Apocalypse Now'.

Wagner's great opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen "shows how disaster strikes those spurred by greed and lust for power." Wagner's rebellious grand-daughter Friedelind later called Hitler `Alberich-Hitler', identifying him with the Ring's lethal Nibelung, whose hunger for power sparks the saga that ends in the apocalypse of Götterdämmerung.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Peter Dallos on January 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an extraordinary book that reads like a saga from the pages of The Godfather. A revelation to anyone thrilled by the majestic, thrilling music of the Master, but also shocking because of the longstanding antisemitism of the Wagner clan, and the unsavory family dramas. One can understand why the Master's music still provokes anguish in Israel despite the soaring notes. As Thomas Mann famously put it: "There is much Hitler in Wagner."
The book is absorbing, well-researched, and reads like a thriller, documenting the backstage drama and unusual characters behind Bayreuth from the time of Wagner to the present. No wonder "The Economist" nominated it as one of the ten best books of 2007.

Two big thumbs up for Jonathan Carr's achievement!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tom Paine "Honest" on March 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you are into Wagner (and all you have to do is listen to any of his music and you will be) this is a most interesting book. Great background on Bayreuth and the festival. Yes, sad that Winifred went gaga over Hitler and a low mark for Bayreuth. But it happened...let's move on. To attend the festival at Bayreuth is a grand experience. This book brings it back...with all the good and bad memories. Hitler did say one good thing: "You can never have too much Wagner." I highly recommend this book.
Beautifuly written to boot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JAD on June 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
Forget about Dallas and Falcon Crest. If you enjoy reading about the inner struggles of vying family members, then you will enjoy this book. Author Jonathan Carr has shown us that the Wagners are all eccentric to the point of being caricatures of themselves. For instance, they were way too happy to call Hitler their Uncle Wolf and welcome him to their festivals honoring the pater familias, who as all have noted, composed beautifully and lived scandalously.

Even the most avid Wagnerian will admit that in spite of his often stirring and occasionally sublime music, Wagner was not exactly an easy fellow to know, let alone get along with. His Cosima perpetuated the glowing torch of his memory to the point of obsession--for which she could be praised or faulted. Yet it is hard to find anything redeeming in her, due to her virulent anti-Semitism.

The most tragic aspect of the Wagner's saga is how all of them seem both blessed and cursed by the composer's undisciplined life and long-shadowed legacy. In their multi-generational squabbles, foibles and follies, the adage holds true of the Wagners: The nuts don't fall far from the tree.
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Format: Paperback
Carr's history of the Wagner family is a genuinely interesting and enjoyable read, but it does suffer from the sheer scope of its topic. As each successive generation married and had children, the Wagner legacy--as carried on by his family--both grows and dissipates.

The early chapters detailing Wagner and Cosima's years together have the benefit of focusing on the couple and key figures in their life. Carr deftly illustrates how Cosima turned the admiration surrounding Wagner into a living cult that has survived Wagner's death for over 100 years. As each successive generation matures, Carr's tale naturally expands, but it is impossible to discuss each new addition to the family with equal (or close to equal) depth. Understandably, Carr focuses on some of the most dramatic personalities--the English children-in-law (Chamberlain and Winifred), Friedelind, and Wieland. Of those individuals that Carr covers in any depth, few are likeable.

In addition to learning more about certain branches of the family, such as Isolde and her children, I would have liked Carr to have spent more time on (1) the important period immediately following Wagner's death and Cosima's assumption of power at Bayreuth, (2) why Cosima froze out her daughters in favor of their brother, (3) how Bayreuth was re-established after WWII, and (4) the work that was, and is, performed at the Festival.
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