Forty Autumns

  • by Nina Willner
  • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
  • 10 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 40 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 20, 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, DC, 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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Simple, Interesting, Informative

This book was easy to follow and easy to understand. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a Freshman in college when the wall came down and enjoyed listening to the differences of lifestyles in East Germany and West Germany. During such repression, it is amazing to see the family stay strong and succeed under those circumstances. Highly recommend.
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- Brenda Jones


My boyfriend surprises me with new books all the time. When I first received this book and read the cover I was excited! I love historical novels! As I began reading it, I was hooked from the first page! I smiled, laughed, and learned so much about strangers whom I have never met before. This family's story is astonishing and fascinating all at the same time. Their dignity, and strong will personalities allowed them to thrive throughout a forty year time span of communism. Something that is unheard of in today's society. Nina not only tells her family story well but she adds so much detail that is comes alive while reading it. To keep it simple I definitely recommend this book! It's a page turner!
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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-04-2016
  • Publisher: HarperAudio