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Resisting Hitler


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About the Author

Shareen Blair Brysac is co-author with her husband, Karl E. Meyer, of the acclaimed Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia. A former producer for CBS News, she is the recipient of several Emmys and the Peabody Award. Currently, she is a contributing editor for Archaeology Magazine.


Brysac's aim is not to provide a biography in the usual sense but to share tantalizing insights into the espionage efforts of Mildred Fish-Hamack, the only American woman executed in Nazi GermanyÄunder Hitler's personal ordersÄas an underground conspirator and co-leader, with her German husband, Arvid Harnack, of the leftist resistance group the Nazis dubbed the Red Orchestra. It is also Brysac's aim to vindicate Mildred and Arvid, long believedÄbecause Arvid had assumed a position in the Third Reich (as a cover) and so little information was available until recentlyÄto have "gone Nazi." Using Mildred's own letters and those from the daughter of FDR's ambassador, a friend in Berlin, as well as the recollections of survivors who knew her, newspaper articles and intelligence documents from Germany, Russia and the U.S., Brysac (co-author with Karl E. Meyer of Tournament of Shadows), concedes that her book is filled with inconsistencies and contradictions (a by-product of memories more than half a century old), but she offers a gripping narrative. Unfortunately, her presentation leaves some questions unanswered: for example, it is not clear how much of the couple's spying actually aided the U.S. or the Soviets, whose political vision the they embraced, although the Nazis blamed the Red Orchestra for the German defeat at Stalingrad, considered the turning point in the war. Yet Brysac presents a compelling tale of anti-Nazi resistance along with a colorful and vivid portrait of Fish-Harnack. This title should get attention in major book review media, and students of espionage, of WWII and general readers intrigued by the tale of a long-forgotten heroine will seek it out. 10-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Brysac, an Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, and director of CBS documentaries, has painstakingly compiled personal interviews, letters, and historical documents into a balanced narration of the life of Mildred Fish-Harnack and her times. The book chronicles the story of several "Aryan elite" Germans, dubbed the Red Orchestra by the Nazis, who organized resistance to Hitler's regime. They included the Wisconsin-born Fish-Harnack, a teacher and scholar; her husband, Arvid Harnack, an economics minister in the Reich; and numerous friends and family (many of whom were later executed). Additionally, newly discovered information of this groups' Berlin activities are detailed here due to recently released documents from the KGB, FBI, and CIA. Although other books have been written about the Red Orchestra (notably, The Red Orchestra: The Soviet Spy Network Inside Nazi Europe), none has concentrated solely on the actions of the Berlin network. By detailing the life of Fish-Harnack, whose guillotining in 1943 made her the only American woman executed for treason during World War II, Brysac is able to put a very human face on these troubled times. With a supporting cast of Fish-Harnack's friends such as Martha Dodd, Brysac has developed a scholarly analysis of this forgotten group. Containing a lengthy bibliography, notes section, and index, this work is recommended for academic libraries.DMaria C. Bagshaw, Lake Erie Coll., Painesville, OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"How [Mildred Harnack] got from middle America to Berlin in the 1930s is the fascinating story Brysac tells in Resisting Hitler."--The New York Times Book Review "[This] well-researched, fair-minded and moving account of the Harnacks and their fate should go a long way toward restoring the reputations of these idealistic and heroic resisters."--Los Angeles Times "A beautifully written, enthralling and moving book...Answers provided in Shareen Blair Brysac's superb biography illuminate important aspects of both German and American history of the period."--Times Literary Supplement "A balanced narration of the life of Mildred Fish-Harnack and her times...Brysac is able to put a very human face on these troubled times."--Library Journal "Among the millions of Hitler's victims was a young woman from Wisconsin who married a German, joined the resistance, played an important role in the Soviet spy network known as the Red Orchestra, was caught and on Hitler's personal order was executed--by guillotine. So much was known about the faith and sacrifice of Mildred Fish-Harnack when the war ended; now, more than half a century later, Sherry Brysac with tireless research and a gift for vigorous narrative has brought this sad and inspiring story brilliantly to life. Secret operations have rarely been recorded with the passion and detail they receive in Resisting Hitler. No one who reads it will soon forget the courage of this woman who risked and lost her life to do the decent thing."--Thomas Powers, author of Heisenberg's War: The Secret History Of The German Bomb and The Man Who Kept The Secrets: Richard Helms & The CIA "In telling Mildred Fish-Harnack's neglected life story, Shareen Brysac extends our knowledge of German anti-Nazi resistance, and of the landscape of Nazism in general. She also illuminates a great deal of German and American intellectual and cultural history. This is an extraordinarily valuable study."--Robert Jay Lifton, M.D., author of The Genocidal Mentality: Nazi Holocaust and Nuclear Threat and The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide "The twists and turns of wartime politics and espionage provide a gripping background for the tragic life of this doomed American woman in Nazi Germany. It is a fine contribution to contemporary history and biography."--Deirdre Bair, biographer of Simone de Beauvoir, Anais Nin, Samuel Beckett "By detailing the life of Fish-Harnack, whose guillotining in 1943 made her the only American woman executed for treason during World War II, Brysac is able to put a very human face on these troubled times."--Library Journal "Brysac does a good job recreating the literary and academic atmosphere of 1920's Berlin and stresses the influence of neighboring Russia on the German capital's political climate...A sensitive and in-depth portrait of two 'good Germans' who have remained unrecognized for over half a century."--Kirkus Reviews

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