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Veteran British biographer and novelist Wilson's plodding latest concerns the private life of Adolf Hitler (Wolf) and his friendship and affair with Winnie, the daughter-in-law of Richard Wagner. The novel opens in 1925 and is composed by an unnamed secretary to Winnie's husband. Though weighted down by detailed discussions of philosophy and the opera that so inspired Hitler, the narrative at times hums with life. Wilson offers a new way of viewing the charismatic (though sweating and flatulent) leader, who appears to the Wagner family as the savior who will raise up a starving and humiliated interwar Germany and who made you feel that the struggle would not have been worth it unless it had gone too far. Unfortunately, Wilson seems so intent on demonstrating the breadth of his knowledge and research that narrative technique feels like an afterthought. This dense and dry tale is unlikely to appeal to readers who aren't already at least armchair scholars of the era. (Nov.)
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"A bold, ambitious piece of fiction"
—Terry Eagleton, Guardian
"A subtle and captivating fiction"
"An extraordinary work whose achievements are almost Wagnerian in scale"
"This novel should carry a warning: its appeal will be greatest for fans either of Wagner and European history, or of politics and philosophy"
From the Hardcover edition.