Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall (Paperback)
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 forty 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 twenty, 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, D.C., 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.
Forty Autumns is illustrated with dozens of black-and-white and color photographs.
“An excellent and intriguing account of the impact of the Cold War on families and their lives on either side of the Berlin Wall.”
“Willner’s epic memoir traverses three generations of mothers, recounting the tragedy, estrangement, and overwhelming courage of a family torn apart…. Her interrogative and unabashed voice explores the painful intersection of national duty and familial responsibilities…. A thrilling and relevant read for historians and casual readers alike.”
Thoughtful and informative, Willner’s book not only offers a personal view of the traumatic effects of German partition. It also celebrates the enduring resilience of the human spirit. A poignant and engrossing, occasionally harrowing, family memoir.”
[A] moving account of one family’s life under tyranny… Willner’s sensitive and well-written account causes us to reflect on what is really important to us and how we would react in a similar situation.”
“This book is kind, honest, incredibly well-written, and important, a testament to humanity and courage.”
“[A] meticulous and compassionate family memoir… Charting the twists and turns of politics in communist East Germany over more than four decades, it shows how currents of repression and reform affected individual lives.”
“Forty Autumns is both an informative and timely read. In this increasingly tumultuous modern era when borders, both theoretical and physical, have once again become the front lines of critical issues such as immigration reform, pervasive prejudice and terrorism, stories like Willner’s are especially important.”
“Even if you well know the story of the East German sequester, you will be drawn to [Willner’s] family story of living through the worst of times.”
“A poignant parable of hope and, at times, a harrowing ghost story.”
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Returning this July! "Where's Waldo in downtown St. Joseph?"
Where's Waldo? All around St. Joseph in the month of July! Pick up your passport from Forever Books on or after July 1st and find Waldo in local stores for a chance to win Where's Waldo prizes.
A Waldo party and prize drawing will be held on Tuesday, July 31st from 6:30-7:00!
-Snack decorating, a final Waldo hunt in the store, free kid's book (publisher's advanced copy), and prize drawing. Kids will be split into 2 age groups for activities.
Thursday, August 2 at 6:30 PM at Forever Books
Reservations Requested. Please call or email the store to save your seat! For more on this book and event click here...
This intimate insight into a fiercely proud, tenacious community unfolds through the voices of the forgotten folks of Baines Creek. With a colorful cast of characters that each contribute a new perspective, If the Creek Don't Rise is a debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.
“A strong, formidable novel for readers of William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy.” Library Journal
“Weiss' novel is a great suggestion for fans of the Big Stone Gap books, by Adriana Trigiani, and the Mitford series, by Jan Karon.” Starred review, Booklist
Book Talk and Signing with Anna Clark, St. Joseph High School graduate and author of The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy
Thursday, August 2 from 6:00 - 7:30 PM at the St. Joseph Public Library.
Forever Books will be selling books prior to and at the event. Book releases July 10, pre-order this important work today!
Bring Home Memories of Southwest Michigan with these Local Interest and History Books!
These local books are only available by calling the store at 269-982-1110 or by email at email@example.com. Shipping services available.
View 366: A Year-long Visual Story of the St. Joseph Lighthouses is a journey into the changing days and seasons in the shadow of the century-old pair of iconic lighthouses situated in southwestern Michigan. This unique photographic story, chronicled by photographer and writer Laura Kraklau, documents 366 consecutive days of the St. Joseph lighthouses from August 26, 2011, through August 25, 2012.
Greetings from St Joseph by Robert C. Myers is a pictorial history of the city dating back to 1679. This book’s lively narrative spans the Colonial Era to the 21st century and includes chapters on St. Joseph’s domestic architecture, downtown, industries, transportation, schools, churches, and cultural organizations. Filled with photographs, maps, and drawings. 8 ½” X 11”, 323 p.p., softcover with bibliography and index.
Greetings from Benton Harbor by Robert Myers. Founded on a ship canal in 1860, Benton Harbor became an economic and cultural center in southwest Michigan. The book spans Benton Harbor's history from the early 1800 to the 21st century. This volume of Historic Photobooks brings together a lively narrative and hundreds of vintage photographs from public institutions and private collections. 81/2 x 11", 390pps, softcover with bibliography and index.
Historical Sketches of Berrien County; by Robert C. Myers features a collection of 152 colorful tales about the history of this southwest Michigan county. Learn about a priest’s opposition to teddy bears, the four flags of Niles, Three Oaks’ campaign against the world, and much more. 7 X 8-1/2”, softcover, 275 p.p., bibliography, index, photos, and illustrations.
Locomotives Along the Lakeshore: Railroads of Berrien County, Michigan by curator Robert Myers, relates the history of each railroad line that operated in Berrien County. The 174-page book includes hundreds of photographs of railroad locomotives, depots and train crews, plus endnotes, a bibliography and index. Photographs in the book, most of which have never been published before, come from the History Center’s own collections and those of area museums and libraries, as well as many private collections.
THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is an eight-part series on PBS that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). It investigates how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience. There will be a nationwide vote to choose America's most beloved book. Find the 100 book selections here and read and place your vote by clicking on image to the left!