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Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall

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At twenty, Hanna escaped from East to West Germany. But the price of freedom -- leaving behind her family and 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, a bitter political war kept them apart.

In Forty Autumns, Nina recounts her family's story and 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. 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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