Reviews & Endorsements
Daniel Snowman is a serious Renaissance Man. A Jewish boy from Edgware, with relatives as illustrious as his Chief Rabbinical grandfather, he became a distinguished historian, BBC producer, expert on American politics and on cultural and social history – and on opera.
He writes well as you would expect. At first, I found his weighty collection of words rather daunting, but then some of those longer passages were unputdownable. He would be a wonderful friend or family member, as you would always want to seek out the wisdom of this deeply intelligent man of fine, liberal views forged in first-hand experience of many matters of import over eight decades.
Countless observations, explanations and descriptions of events in his life have stuck in my mind, notably towards the end of the book and his cool, considered views on recent phenomena from Trump to Brexit and Covid.
Daniel Snowman has had what he calls ‘a good innings’ and is happily ‘not out’, but very much alive at 83. He writes about this life in a fluent conversational style with a combination of zest and amused detachment, including the ability to laugh at himself. The story roars along, illustrated by vivid pen-portraits of some of the narrator’s mentors, colleagues, friends and acquaintances, especially from the world of music.
Some people live the sort of life that leaves the rest of us gasping for breath. They write books by the dozen, deliver lectures by the hundred, travel the world – and still have time to enjoy all the pleasures life has to offer. Daniel Snowman, cultural commentator, historian, broadcaster and author, is one such person. In his fascinating memoir, Just Passing Through, he invites us to accompany him on his journey through an enviably full life.
This is a fascinating memoir of a great polymath. Daniel displays a vast range of interests, as both a historian and music enthusiast. A noted producer at the BBC, he has subsequently led tours and given numerous lectures on cultural topics. His warmth and humanity shine through.
Daniel Snowman’s latest book grips one from the outset and moves with great momentum. The fluent flowing style keeps the attention riveted and his wit is engaging – all of which make this well-illustrated book so readable and enjoyable.
Just passing through? Never! Daniel (Snowman) stops, admires the scenery, interprets the high notes and the low, and we all pass on the better for it.
Daniel Snowman’s well-lived life – as broadcaster, historian, singer, lecturer, opera-buff – has taken him around the world and brought him in contact with many of the cultural and political greats of the modern world. His warmly empathetic, intelligent and open-minded personality informs every page of this insightful and civilised memoir.
Daniel says somewhere that he doesn’t want to judge people. And he doesn’t. He writes candidly about his orthodox Jewish background, the benefits brought by German refugees, the evils of McCarthyism, the racism of the American South. He has been everywhere. As a musician and broadcaster, he has interviewed politicians like Crossman, luminaries like Barbirolli, and befriended singers like Domingo. He has even calmly discussed ‘the bomb’ with Harry Truman. He is a writer, producer, performer, historian and human being all in one and this book deserves to be read widely.
I have known Daniel over 70 years, but had no idea what a rich and full life he has led. I found it so impressive how he has managed to combine his two loves, history and music, largely through his world-wide travels and research, and his fascinating interviews (about some of which I would have liked to have learned more!). The book is beautifully presented, easy to read and well illustrated. I particularly appreciated the shortish chapters.
I would happily award Daniel the alpha star he apparently always wanted!
A masterpiece by a profound thinker: wonder and wisdom, grace and beauty, sprinkled with the human condition, dazzle the senses.