Forty Autumns

Forty Autumns

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

Book - 2016
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"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"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780062410313
0062410318
Branch Call Number: 929.2094 Wil
Characteristics: xxii, 391 pages : illustrations (some colour)

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Manateestarz Jul 31, 2017

A warm, beautifully written story that illustrates the struggle of one family dealing with life under East German Communism. The author draws a wonderful picture of strong and determined Opa and loving and indefatigable Oma and her entire extended family. The book is also filled with wonderful photos throughout.

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Elaine212
Apr 01, 2017

Nina Willner has written a memoir about her mother, who escaped to West Berlin leaving her family behind the Iron Curtain. At twenty, Hanna embraces her new found freedom, but is wrought with worry for her family. Willner writes with a deep melancholic tone reflecting the great sadness Hanna suffers being cut off for years from any contact with her family. Eventually a little news from a family friend or acquaintance crosses over the Iron Wall filling Hanna with inspiration, assurance, and hope in spite of the Communist regime.

SPL_Sonya Mar 14, 2017

Forty Autumns is a well-researched memoir describing the heartache of a family separated by the Berlin Wall. Nina Willner, a first time author, recounts her mother’s escape from East Germany as a young woman and the repressive lives of the family she left behind. The author does an excellent job of combining the historical and political facts of the Cold War era with the personal experiences of her family. This well written book will especially appeal to those who enjoy reading about history and politics.

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