All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days - Rebecca Donner

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days

By Rebecca Donner

  • Release Date: 2021-08-03
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 150 Ratings


The INSTANT New York Times Bestseller

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography
Winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award 
Winner of the Chautauqua Prize
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award
Finalist for the Plutarch Award

A New York Times Notable Book of 2021
New York Times BookReview Editors’ Choice
New York Times Critics' Top Pick of 2021

Wall Street Journal 10 Best Books of 2021
Time Magazine 100 Must-Read Books of 2021
Publishers Weekly Top Ten Books of 2021
An Economist Best Book of the Year
New York Post Best Book of the Year
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Best Book of the Year

Oprah Daily Best New Books of August
A New York Public Library Book of the Week
In this “stunning literary achievement,” Donner chronicles the extraordinary life and brutal death of her great-great-aunt Mildred Harnack, the American leader of one of the largest underground resistance groups in Germany during WWII—“a page-turner story of espionage, love and betrayal” (Kai Bird, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography)

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Mildred Harnack was twenty-six when she enrolled in a PhD program in Germany and witnessed the meteoric rise of the Nazi party. In 1932, she began holding secret meetings in her apartment—a small band of political activists that by 1940 had grown into the largest underground resistance group in Berlin. She recruited working-class Germans into the resistance, helped Jews escape, plotted acts of sabotage, and collaborated in writing leaflets that denounced Hitler and called for revolution. Her coconspirators circulated through Berlin under the cover of night, slipping the leaflets into mailboxes, public restrooms, phone booths. When the first shots of the Second World War were fired, she became a spy, couriering top-secret intelligence to the Allies. On the eve of her escape to Sweden, she was ambushed by the Gestapo. At a Nazi military court, a panel of five judges sentenced her to six years at a prison camp, but Hitler overruled the decision and ordered her execution. On February 16, 1943, she was strapped to a guillotine and beheaded.

Historians identify Mildred Harnack as the only American in the leadership of the German resistance, yet her remarkable story has remained almost unknown until now.

Harnack’s great-great-niece Rebecca Donner draws on her extensive archival research in Germany, Russia, England, and the U.S. as well as newly uncovered documents in her family archive to produce this astonishing work of narrative nonfiction. Fusing elements of biography, real-life political thriller, and scholarly detective story, Donner brilliantly interweaves letters, diary entries, notes smuggled out of a Berlin prison, survivors’ testimony, and a trove of declassified intelligence documents into a powerful, epic story, reconstructing the moral courage of an enigmatic woman nearly erased by history.


  • Exhaustive Research

    By Pelicanbrief
    Easy read and exhaustively researched. The book title intrigued me and even though I don’t think I would have “liked” Mildred I have to admire her dedication to defeating fascism. With the exception of her devotion to anti-fascism she is still an opaque personality.
  • Read this book

    By Happy Viberophile
    Fascinating true story of German resistance against the Nazis.Their heroic work went under appreciated and often ignored by the West. Skillfully written and researched, the author expertly guides the reader through this dark chapter of history.
  • Michael Bachner

    By Acquittal
    An immensely moving documentation of the bravery of too few Germans - often led by women - fighting to overthrow Nazism. The book also recounts - although too briefly - the pitiful anti-Semitism of the US government’s state department that ignored the warnings. This book sends the message too often ignored, that the acts of even a few brave people can impact the world.