Nonfiction Short Take: Forty Autumns – Nina Willner

Willner’s family was separated for decades by the construction of the Berlin Wall and here she recounts the lives of five women buffeted by that history. Willner is herself a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and uniquely qualified to take readers behind the Wall to see what life was like during the height of the Cold War when she was involved in secret operations in Berlin.

 There will be an NPR/All Things Considered  interview at on sale.


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…. 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.”
Publishers Weekly

“Willner’s book not only offers a personal view of the traumatic effects of German partition. It also celebrates the enduring resilience of the human spirit. A poignant and engrossing, occasionally harrowing, family memoir.”
   — Kirkus Reviews

Forty Autumns: A Family’s Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall (9780062410313) by Nina Willner. $27.99 hardcover. 10/4/16 on sale.

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