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.
©2016 Nina Willner (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
Show More Show Less

Regular price: £26.79

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – choose any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • Free, unlimited access to Audio Shows
  • After your trial, Audible is just £7.99/month
Select or Add a new payment method

Buy Now with 1 Credit

By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Buy Now for £26.79

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By stuart on 28-11-16

Great story - couldn't leave it alone

Any additional comments?

I have always been interested in the history of the GDR, but up till now, it was the political reality (e.g. taylor's The Berlin Wall), but this lovely story brings home the personal impact the Wall had. I loved exploring the human side of this part of history, and would recommend it thoroughly.

Read more Hide me

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By PAUL C. on 06-08-17

poor

What disappointed you about Forty Autumns?

tubthumping american propaganda from start to finish, if you want to learn anything about the DDR that you wont find on wikipedia, you will be very very dissapointed

What was most disappointing about Nina Willner’s story?

we learnt nothing of her being an intelligence operative in berlin other than she was allowed in and drove a car around a few times and took some sneeky pictures.The authour didnt get cold qwhen writing this, so wrapped up in the stars and stripes as she is, we did learn that the USSR sent Oswald to kill Kennedy,all athletes in east germany were drug cheats (except her relative of course) and basiaclly the east was overthrown by Nena,Elvis,the beatles , Michael Jackson and doubtless the scorpions.The only saving grace of the book was the epilogue, where at least she toucehd on the reality of the west german takeover in the early 90's , with mass redundancies and wholesale asset stripping.The DDR may have been a failed system but at leat people had a stake in it, The west Germans just took it all away for themselves,

Would you listen to another book narrated by Cassandra Campbell?

yes

What character would you cut from Forty Autumns?

the whole family

Any additional comments?

read a decent book on the DDR not this propaganda

Read more Hide me
See all reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Brenda Jones on 21-04-17

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.

Read more Hide me

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 04-04-17

SPEECHLESS

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!

Read more Hide me

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

See all reviews