To J. Edgar Hoover it was ‘the trial of the century’; for many more it was a horrifying case of what happens when a government motivated by fear tramples on the rights of its citizens. In June 1953 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted, having been convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union. Ethel was the first woman in the US to be executed for a crime other than murder, a crime she almost certainly did not commit and the evidence for which was based on perjury from her own brother. Hers is a story of loyalty and courage as she battled the political paranoia of the McCarthy era, antisemitism, misogyny and more.
Following the award-winning Les Parisiennes and her acclaimed biographies of Wallis Simpson, Jennie Churchill and Mother Teresa, Anne Sebba joins us to discuss Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy, the first book to have full use of the dramatic prison letters she exchanged with her husband, her lawyer and her psychotherapist – as well as new interviews with her sons and fellow prisoners.
After the live broadcast, the recording will be available for 7 days. For information on how to use KPlayer please refer to our guide.
Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy and The Spy Who Loved will be available to purchase at the Blackwell’s pop-up bookstall on Sun 3 Oct.