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The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time Hardcover – January 8, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The act of writing," proposes Lowenherz, "gives us a chance to reflect in private before exposing our heart." Hence the value of the love letter as an abiding expression of the writer's feelings in all their depth and complexity. A prominent collector and dealer in letters and historical memorabilia, Lowenherz presents letters (or fragments thereof) that collectively express the full range of amorous passion, from blind adoration to angst-ridden vituperation. Included are the romantic outpourings of celebrated writers George Sand, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald whose literary talents make their correspondence a model for any aspiring lover. Perhaps less gifted in their command of language, but certainly no less heartfelt, are selections from such notables as Harry Truman, Abigail Adams, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and an adoring Elvis fan from New Jersey. While reading through too many of these missives in one go might send some readers on an emotional roller coaster, dipping into the collection here and there will be inspiring for those who seek to command the attention of their loved ones. Not surprisingly, some of the most passionate declarations of love herein were uttered by lovers who later proved fickle. But there are some unexpected revelations, too: the ostensibly reserved George Bush, for example, is an effusive epistolary lover. Lowenherz introduces each letter with a quick, helpful biographical note about the author, and the collection as a whole reveals an infinite number of ways to say "I love you." Photos. (Jan.)Forecast: If Crown can generate enough publicity for this, it should be a cinch for literate lovers on Valentine's Day.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-A collector and dealer in letters, manuscripts, and signed photographs has gathered together an anthology showing a diverse, unusual, and not always romantic view of love. A brief introduction to each letter gives some background about the writer and the recipient. Photographs accompany some of the letters. The correspondents include such people as Harry Truman, Jack London, and Sarah Bernhardt. Reading through the letters, readers see vivid examples of how the expression and the language of love have changed over the years. When one considers how e-mail and instant messaging are changing the face of even our most intimate communications, these letters recall a different and sometimes gentler time. Reading some of them will give teens a peek into the private thoughts of people whose names they have seen in books or heard about in class. It might even inspire them to write some letters of their own.
Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (January 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812932773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812932775
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By char1077 on January 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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. . .
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
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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By A Customer on January 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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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