Nathan's Reviews > Diana Mosley: Mitford Beauty, British Fascist, Hitler's Angel

Diana Mosley by Anne de Courcy
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Jun 15, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: franklin-library, history

A biography of a single Mitford sister runs the risk of lacking in context, and indeed, that was a moderate issue with this one. The focus of the book necessarily divorces Diana Mosley's political and personal character from that of her sisters, and I thought that skipped over one of the most appealing aspects of the Mitford story: the wild divergence of the sisters' personalities and politics. On the other hand, the narrowed focus really brings the character of Diana Mosely into sharp relief: nuanced, objective, properly disinterested. De Courcy believes from the start that "objectivity is one of the first duties of a biographer", and she has carried out this duty admirably. This objectivity allows her to detail subjects that have been worked to death and reveal new insights about them, as in her portrait of Hitler as a human figure (albeit a murderous one) rather than as some sort of superhuman archetype of evil; in turn, she brings the human interactions of history to the foreground on a finely detailed scale, which is thoroughly honest, as well a lot of fun to read.

These are the good points, and they are strong ones. They aren't overarching, though. The bulk of this book was pretty dry; it wasn't good writing, it was merely serviceable. In service to what, though, was difficult to tell. The lack of a supporting thesis was another weakness, in connexion with the dearth of context: this was just a straight record of history, with no real analyses of Mosley's ideas, actions or legacy.

All in all, not a terrible book, though I would recommend reading another book on the Mitfords, and maybe a general historical analysis of the pertinent political ideologies.
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