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A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography
 
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A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography [Format Kindle]

Diana Mitford
3.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)

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Présentation de l'éditeur

‘Beautifully written.’ Valerie Grove, The Times ‘Martini-dry wit.’ Irish Times ‘Often pure Wodehouse.’ Financial Times ‘Uncompromising.’ A.N. Wilson, Sunday Telegraph ‘It has all her charm.’ Laura Thompson, A Good Read, BBC Radio 4 ‘Brilliant.’ Evening Standard ‘A Life of Contrasts is a candid, page-turning memoir, written by a woman who will—without any doubt—be viewed by history as one of the most fascinating personalities of the Twentieth Century.’ Mary S. Lovell ‘Lady Mosley writes extremely well… Her book reads like brilliant talk; her characters live and die in a single phrase… An autobiography of real distinction.' Jonathan Raban, Sunday Times ‘I envy any reader coming for the first time to A Life of Contrasts, Diana Mosley’s account of her own eventful past, for he has a rare treat in front of him.’ Selina Hastings ‘Sharp, amusing and well-written’ Hugh Thomas, New Statesman ‘Wholly if grittily, a Mitford book… the reader will be flung between delight and dismay as he reads on… To all those not averse to a little powdered glass in their Bombe Surprise: enjoy.’ The Times ‘Other members of the Mitford family do not have the monopoly of brilliant and amusing writing.’ The Tatler ‘She emerges among all else as feminine…’ Mary Warnock, The Listener ‘Animated and revealing.’ Hibernia ‘Witty and amusing.’ Catholic Herald ‘She was clearly a star.’ Anne de Courcy in The Viceroy’s Daughters The hilarious autobiography of the most glamorous of the Bright Young Things. Diana Mitford describes in the inimitable Mitford way how it came about that both Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler adored her, and Evelyn Waugh and Oswald Mosley fell in love with her.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Des mémoires hélas plus Mosley que Mitford! 9 octobre 2013
Par Al54
Format:Format Kindle|Achat authentifié par Amazon
Si Diana Mitford est très loin d'avoir le talent littéraire et l'humour de sa sœur Nancy, les premiers chapitres de ses mémoires, qui portent sur son enfance chez "ces doux-dingues" de Mitford et sur son premier mariage, restent intéressants, parce qu'elle a fréquenté une partie de l'intelligentsia britannique des années vingt et trente. Hélas! (pour le lecteur sinon pour Diana, puisqu'elle affirme ne l'avoir jamais regretté) Diana rencontre Oswald Mosley, fondateur et chef du parti fasciste anglais et ses mémoires se transforment en une longue et insupportable justification du nazisme.
Amie personnelle d'Hitler, Diana épouse Mosley à Berlin dans la demeure de Goebbels. Si certains des arguments de sa "défense et illustration de nazisme" ne sont que ridicules (lorsqu'elle parle d'Hitler comme d'un homme charmant qui avait de si beaux cheveux et une si belle peau : un vrai top modèle, comme chacun le sait!) d'autres donnent la nausée! C'est ainsi qu'elle explique doctement que les juifs sont responsables de "ce qui leur est arrivé" (bien sûr, il n'est jamais question de génocide) parce que Hitler avait un vrai problème avec les juifs et que si leurs "riches" coreligionnaires avaient accepté de payer pour une émigration massive eh bien "rien de tout cela" ne serait arrivé : insoutenable! Pendant la guerre, les Mosley sont arrêtés et emprisonnés, puis assignés à résidence.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 A lovely light writing style, full of grit. 7 septembre 2013
Par Smoller
Format:Format Kindle|Achat authentifié par Amazon
This was my first Mitford book and I am now reading everything I can find. The sisters are wonderfully outspoken on a huge range of subjects and often have unique inside knowledge. Diana Mitford has an easy writing style which is a joy to read.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  10 commentaires
43 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 How she thinks 4 octobre 2005
Par NY Reader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat authentifié par Amazon
Reading Diana Mitford Mosley's self-serving autobiography was a fascinating exercise.

First of all, I have to say, none of her children were in prison with her.

As for 18B, she has a point, but. Great Britain is not the first democratic government to imprison people without a trial in wartime. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in the US during the civil war and the US, to its eternal discredit, rounded up all Japanese-Americans and simply interned them during WW2. (And let's not even talk about George Bush!) The fact is, the Mosleys and other Fascists fared far better in British prisons than opponents of the Fascists in Germany and Italy and lived to tell the tale.

I've often wondered how people living in a democracy could justify their support of Fascism. Diana Mosley typically engages in special pleading e.g. "Not allowing free travel is one of the typical features of socialism everywhere." ch. 20 p. 218, "A Life of Contrasts". Well okay, but if the Jews in Europe had been permitted free travel, six million of them wouldn't have been gassed and incinerated. It's not as if Fascists or Nazis permitted free travel for gypsies, socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses or political opponents either.

As the guardian of her adored Mosley's shrine, she works hard to burnish his place in history. She does this by simply gliding over or omitting uncomfortable or ugly facts. Ditto with the facts surrounding the behavior of her sister Unity. (the Communist Jessica adored Unity too and was also at pains to glide over her behavior, particularly after Unity's unsuccessful and permanently debilitating suicide attempt).

Diana also glosses over the routine anti-semitism and bigotry that pervade the upper class world she comes from and inhabits her entire life, as well as Mosley's record on the subject. She does include, tellingly, some "throwaway" anti-semitic remarks that occur along the line.

She simply has a gargantuan sense of entitlement which seems to be the common feature of many of the aristocratic friends she talks about. She tells one story during which her son and two other men "hide" so that she can flag down a stray motorist to help her change a flat tire. They didn't know how to do it. Allegedly. She admits to being embarrassed when they appear prematurely before the job was completed. I guess it's salutory to watch the lower classes "work." It's just so typical of those in her world.

Her sister Nancy, in a letter to a family friend (Mrs. "Ham") much-quoted in the world of Mitfordania, basically says that if one is an aristocrat, one fears Communists; if one is a Jew, one fears Nazis, but as for the ideologies themselves, both Communists and Nazis are both fiends, a salient point to my mind.

The Mitfords provided copy and entertainment for an entire generation. How could one family produce so many brainy and diverse individuals? There are biographies about and books by Jessica, Unity, Nancy, Diana and Deborah (who is the last surviving sibling as well as the Duchess of Devonshire and who was, at one time, Kathleen Kennedy's sister-in-law). Jessica was a civil rights activist and communist who wrote The American Way of Death.

What a fascinating bunch. Diana was considered the most beautiful and amusing and she is, in fact, an excellent writer although hardly in a league with Jessica or Nancy. Even Jessica who didn't talk to her for most of their entire adult lives says that she adored her as a child.

Getting into her mind was a worthwhile exercise. It was helpful for an understanding, not just of her, but of the thinking of the times and much of her "set." Even after Germany's defeat, her own brother (another British Fascist with a sterling war record) couldn't bring himself to be part of the occupying force in his beloved Germany and insisted on going to the CBI theater where he was killed in Burma.

She takes pains to defend Mosley's arguments against going to war with Germany. The British and French got into the war to defend Poland against Hitler's aggression and, in the end, the Soviets swallowed Poland and the British lost their empire anyway which, to her mind, was the main argument for NOT going to war against Germany. She doesn't realize or acknowledge or deal with the argument that if Hitler had been allowed to continue unopposed, Britain would probably have not only lost their empire, but their island as well, nor has she anything to say about the morality of a philosophy that condemns people to death simply because of who they are.

Typically, although MM mentions her friend Hitler's humor and charm or that of the Duke of Windsor, she fails to come up with even a single convincing example of what she's talking about. But she is well within her rights to point out the admiration Hitler and Mussolini evoked early in their careers from even people like Churchill. They weren't always pariahs. Many politicians and other people came to see and speak with them and were admirers of the early German and Italian economic "miracles."

Ultimately MM's loyalty to her Mosley is her one outstanding characteristic, overriding all other considerations. She is not always "wrong" in her facts although her interpretations are necessarily self-serving. She indignantly points out Communist atrocities and even some committed by the Allies, but can't allow herself to concede the truths almost universally acknowledged by everyone else about the vast scope of the atrocities and genocide committed by her friend Hitler and the Axis.

As a character study, this book is extremely worthwhile. As an accurate historical memoir less so, except as a barometer of the thinking of Fascist sympathizers. For those who wonder "What COULD they have been thinking?" Here it is.
45 internautes sur 56 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 dreadful judgement 17 juin 1999
Par JACK WHITE - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I found this a very interesting and entertaining book. Lady Mosley was obviously a cultivated and delightful woman to know. However, this was one of the most disturbing books that I have read. The most interesting part of the book of course, was her description of the meetings with Hitler and Goering. After all we know about the horrers that these two perpetrated she still refers to them in almost fawning terms. When she comments on Hitlers beautiful hands and hair, really this is too much for me. I do not have a problem with her prewar views but an intelligent and cultivated person as she was must surely have better judgement than this.
She and her husband Sir Oswald constantly bemoan the fate the fate of the dreadful lot of the British working man prior to 1939 yet they always had the money to either buy a new castle or a down market mansion.
I heard Sir Oswald speak in the 1950's and would agree that other than Churchill he was one of the most accomplished speaker that I have heard. However, Churchill was quite correct to intern both of the Mosleys as to gether with the Duke of Windsor the trio would have made an excellant Nazi governement in waiting.
In spite of this she did have some interesting observations. She was rightly annoyed when her loyalty was questioned by Herbert Morrison who bravely spent WW1 in an orchard. And her comment that Britain was willing to go to war in 1939 to save Poland yet happily traded it to Russia in 1945 at Yalta
To summarize, education and breeding do not judgement make. It is obvious that a peace settlement with Hitler in 1940 was an invitation to a slave society.
20 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Some redeeming qualities in the writing - however... 7 janvier 2008
Par SusieQ - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Comparing A LIFE of CONTRASTS to other memoirs written by the Mitford sisters, it reads very well. Diana Mosley, and/or her ghostwriter, has a smooth writing style; she fills in the background of her grandparents, her parents, and her upbringing in a non-sensational, non-comical way (unlike Jessica, who unfortunately appears to have exaggerated and edited her childhood memories and then ended up believing herself absolutely truthful). As a calm and clear historian of the youthful Mitfords, the memoir is valuable.

What I disliked about the book is that more than a third of it is taken up with the so-called injustice of the Mosleys' imprisonment during WWII and how they suffered during their imprisonment. This part of the book is the most pitiful to read and it is hard to get through. I can't feel much sympathy for the Mosleys. Though I decrie imprisonment without trial, it did not seem unjustified for Oswald Mosley. Perhaps it was a brutal thing to take Diana from her 11-week-old son, but as a blind supporter of Mosley and Fascist policies, she had to go along with him. They would undoubtedly have supported a Fascist government if Hitler had conquered Great Britain as he did France. They deserved their imprisonment.

Somehow I found it very telling that Diana never mentions going back, after her release from Holloway, to see the three friendly female wardens who looked after her, although she called them her friends, and they did much to allieviate her 'misery'. One of these wardens even cried tears of joy when she heard that Diana was being released. Yet, Diana never paid them a visit, or communicated with them again in any way, after her release? Hmmm. Bet she never would have neglected Lytton Strachey or Dora Carrington like that. But then, they were a different class of friend.

It is very clear from this autobiography why Jessica Mitford and Diana Mosley could never have a relationship after the war -they both had absolute contrasting points of view why the war was fought; about Jews, immigrants's rights, class systems, privilege, etc. Like two sides of a coin. Jessica is an entirely more admirable character in some ways, despite her overriding faith in Communism, although I can see why she was not perceived as admirable by the aristocratic society from which she sprung. And which froze her out, when she returned for visits to her British family beginning in the 1950's.

To return to the quality of this book, it is interesting as a picture into the life of an aristocratic woman from the late '20's-early '30's, and as an unredeemed Fascist thereafter. Are her stories and insights into Hitler and his associates interesting? Yes, in some ways. But there's the blight of her ongoing belief in the values of these people, in what they stood for, and her total immersion in this political belief, to the end of her life. She never admits to herself what they really were, what they really did. I was particularly disgusted by her contention that if "world Jewry" (and what the hell is that?) had done more to remove (resettle) European Jews, the holocaust would not have happened! Talk about a skewed point of view!
3.0 étoiles sur 5 How can an unrepentant fascist be such a delightful writer? 19 mars 2014
Par bigbeard61 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat authentifié par Amazon
Lady Mosley had a unique perspective on the twentieth century, and she has a wonderful prose style. But some of the things she says are beyond outrageous.
4.0 étoiles sur 5 What a family!! 16 mars 2014
Par Gizzy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat authentifié par Amazon
I first ran across this family when I found the book written by her sister Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire. I have read every book I can find on them. They were a rambunctious, hysterically funny group. That they grew up to go in such different directions is what really amazes you. She married a Fascist, Deborah became a Duchess, one moved to America, one lived in Germany and the one that knew Hitler was the saddest of all. Apparently they all with the exception of the brother were lovely women and attracted quite a bit of attention. Diana was good friends with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in France. The book is interesting and it seems that all of them that have written something are all wonderful writers.
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