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Forty Autumns

A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

In this illuminating and deeply moving memoir, a former American military intelligence officer goes beyond traditional Cold War espionage tales to tell the true story of her family—of five women separated by the Iron Curtain for more than forty years, and their miraculous reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Forty Autumns makes visceral the pain and longing of one family forced to live apart in a world divided by two. At twenty, Hanna escaped from East to West Germany. But the price of freedom—leaving behind her parents, eight siblings, and family home—was heartbreaking. Uprooted, Hanna eventually moved to America, where she settled down with her husband and had children of her own.

Growing up near Washington, D.C., Hanna’s daughter, Nina Willner became the first female Army Intelligence Officer to lead sensitive intelligence operations in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War. Though only a few miles separated American Nina and her German relatives—grandmother Oma, Aunt Heidi, and cousin, Cordula, a member of the East German Olympic training team—a bitter political war kept them apart.

In Forty Autumns, Nina recounts her family’s story—five ordinary lives buffeted by circumstances beyond their control. She takes us deep into the tumultuous and terrifying world of East Germany under Communist rule, revealing both the cruel reality her relatives endured and her own experiences as an intelligence officer, running secret operations behind the Berlin Wall that put her life at risk.

A personal look at a tenuous era that divided a city and a nation, and continues to haunt us, Forty Autumns is an intimate and beautifully written story of courage, resilience, and love—of five women whose spirits could not be broken, and who fought to preserve what matters most: family.

Forty Autumns is illustrated with dozens of black-and-white and color photographs.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 29, 2016 – 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 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.

Customer Reviews

Loved this book

Terrific and accurate depiction of life behind the iron curtain. Couldn't put it down. A must read for anyone who enjoys 20th century European history.

Forty Autumns
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Oct 04, 2016
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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