Forty Autumns: A Family’s Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall

Nina Willner. Morrow, $27.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-241031-3
Willner’s epic memoir traverses three generations of mothers, recounting the tragedy, estrangement, and overwhelming courage of a family torn apart by the ideological division of Germany during the Cold War. Willner, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, weaves familial legends of escape from farmsteads guarded by roving East German border patrols, with tales of international espionage at the 1958 World’s Fair. Her interrogative and unabashed voice explores the painful intersection of national duty and familial responsibilities, as when she describes the first encounter of her maternal grandfather and her father in 1959: “The two shook hands: the tall East German and onetime soldier in the Third Reich meeting his new son-in-law, an Auschwitz and Buchenwald survivor and now a U.S. Army intelligence officer.” Faced with government-sanctioned propaganda and manipulation, readers follow a family of educators led by their daughters as they attempt to navigate “the fabric of East German society [that] began to fray under the yoke of an Orwellian climate of oppression.” Willner’s depiction of the brutal East German regime and the fight of one family to unite is a thrilling and relevant read for historians and casual readers alike. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
MP3 CD - 978-1-4417-4031-1
Paperback - 544 pages - 978-0-06-249691-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-256485-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-4417-4015-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-4417-4039-7
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-06-241033-7
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