The thrilling and previously unknown story of the woman who led one of the largest anti-Nazi resistance groups in Germany, now a New York Times bestseller
SELECTED AS A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
Born and raised in America, Mildred Harnack was twenty-six and living in Germany when she witnessed the meteoric rise of the Nazi party. She began holding secret meetings in her apartment, forming a small band of political activists set on helping Jews escape, denouncing Hitler and calling for revolution. When the Second World War began, she became a spy, couriering top-secret intelligence to the Allies.
In this astonishing work of non-fiction, Harnack’s great-great-niece Rebecca Donner draws on extensive archival research, fusing elements of biography, political thriller and scholarly detective story to tell a powerful, epic tale of an enigmatic woman nearly erased by history.
“Reads like a thriller … Written in a pacey, suspenseful present tense, it’s biography with a pulse … a superb, sure-footed work of historical detection conceived with a powerful intelligence”
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“A beautifully rich portrait of a very brave woman. While never less than scrupulously researched, this biography explodes the genre of “biography”: experimental but achieved, Donner’s story reads with the speed of a thriller, the depth of a novel and the urgency of an essay, like some deeply compelling blend of Alan Furst and W.G. Sebald”
“Astonishing … wilder and more expansive than a standard-issue biography … a real-life thriller with a cruel ending”
new York Times
“Written in a fizzing present tense, the book in places reads like a spy novel … Donner writes in beautiful, crisp prose (like her great-great-aunt, as quotes from Mildred’s letters reveal) … The result is a work that transports us to a period now slipping from living memory but that contains vital lessons for our own time”
“A tour de force of investigation … gripping”
Rebecca Donner is the New York Times bestselling author of three critically acclaimed books. She is a 2022 Guggenheim fellow and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, and the Chautauqua Prize. Donner was inspired to write All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days after her grandmother gave her a bundle of Mildred’s letters.
@RRRDonner | rebeccadonner.com