Ethel Rosen­berg: An Amer­i­can Tragedy

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2020
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 for 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 1950s. She longed to be a good wife and per­fect moth­er to her two small boys, 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 two young sons.

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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