Ethel Rosenberg: Beyond the Myths

Ilene J. Philipson, Author Franklin Watts $0 (390p) ISBN 978-0-531-15057-3
According to Philipson, who teaches at UC Berkeley, it is impossible to sort truth from the lies and circumstantial evidence in the Rosenberg espionage case. Rather than search for clues to Ethel and Julius Rosenberg's guilt or innocence in passing atomic-bomb secrets to the Russians, the author of this empathic biography probes her subject's mind-set. The Ethel Rosenberg we meet is a rebellious actress-singer turned Communist, later a dowdy, neurotic housewife who wore ""cheap, shapeless house dresses,'' made her sons dependent on her through overpermissiveness and never disagreed with her husband on anything of consequence. Julius Rosenberg, the author charges, combined a misplaced trust in the workings of justice with naivete about how to present himself effectively. David Greenglass, Ethel's brother, who helped send her to the electric chair, was ``foolish, trusting, and childlike.'' Philipson overwrites and makes snap judgments, but her psychobiography is unusually intimate. It will rattle supporters who view the Rosenbergs as leftist martyrs, as well as detractors who condemn them as agents of Stalin. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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