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Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

by Anne Sebba
Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

by Anne Sebba


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New York Times bestselling author Anne Sebba's moving biography of Ethel Rosenberg, the wife and mother whose execution for espionage-related crimes defined the Cold War and horrified the world.

In June 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a couple with two young sons, were led separately from their prison cells on Death Row and electrocuted moments apart. Both had been convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union, despite the fact that the US government was aware that the evidence against Ethel was shaky at best and based on the perjury of her own brother.

This book is the first to focus on one half of that couple in more than thirty years, and much new evidence has surfaced since then. Ethel was a bright girl who might have fulfilled her personal dream of becoming an opera singer, but instead found herself struggling with the social mores of the 1950’s. She longed to be a good wife and perfect mother, while battling the political paranoia of the McCarthy era, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and a mother who never valued her. Because of her profound love for and loyalty to her husband, she refused to incriminate him, despite government pressure on her to do so. Instead, she courageously faced the death penalty for a crime she hadn’t committed, orphaning her children.

Seventy years after her trial, this is the first time Ethel’s story has been told with the full use of the dramatic and tragic prison letters she exchanged with her husband, her lawyer and her psychotherapist over a three-year period, two of them in solitary confinement. Hers is the resonant story of what happens when a government motivated by fear tramples on the rights of its citizens.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250198648
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/14/2022
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 110,802
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

ANNE SEBBA is a prize-winning biographer, lecturer, and former Reuters foreign correspondent who has written several books, including That Woman and Les Parisiennes. A former chair of Britain’s Society of Authors and now on the Council, Anne is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. She lives in London.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Becoming Ethel 13

2 Wartime Mothering 33

3 Struggling 66

4 Unraveling 85

5 Prison 106

6 On Trial 123

7 Destruction 147

8 Isolation 175

9 Facing Death 192

10 Redemption 218

Epilogue: The Many Ways of Imagining and Seeing Ethel 241

Acknowledgments 261

Notes 265

Bibliography 285

Index 293

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