An American heiress turned resistance hero, Muriel Gardiner was an electrifying woman who impressed everyone she met with her beauty, intelligence, and powerful personality. Her adventurous life led her from Chicago's high society to a Viennese medical school, from Sigmund Freud's inner circle to the Austrian underground. Over the years, she saved countless Jews and anti-fascists, providing shelter and documents ensuring their escape. This remarkable woman's life as a legend of the Austrian Resistance was captured in the movie Julia with Vanessa Redgrave and remains an inspiration to all those who believe that one individual can change the world. Gardiner's astonishing story is told here for the first time in all its variety and unanticipated twists and turns.
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Sheila Isenberg is the author of several books, including A Hero of Our Own: The Story of Varian Fry, named a Notable Book of the Year by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and featured by the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the groundbreaking Women Who Love Men Who Kill. Isenberg is adjunct professor of English at Marist College. She has appeared in many documentaries and on multiple media platforms, including NPR's Morning Edition, CNN's Anderson Cooper, 20/20, The Today Show, and Good Morning America. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley.Review:
“Terrible times can elicit extraordinary deeds even from ordinary people, and Muriel Gardner was anything but ordinary...[Author Sheila Isenberg sets] the story straight about this intrepid American heroine.” ―The Boston Globe
“Performed an act of historic justice” ―The Jerusalem Post
“It is simplest to put it this way: privilege, exotic friendships, intellectual adventure, international intrigue, and danger marked the life story of American heiress Muriel Gardiner. But that doesn't cover this woman's contribution to the history of World War II, the magnetism that drew a fascinating string of lovers to her, nor her nerve in using her wealth to save countless lives from the rolling Nazi juggernaut in the 1930s and 40s. It seems like the stuff movies are made of. And in Gardiner's case, maybe it was.” ―America in World War II Magazine
“Muriel Gardner was a beautiful, electrifying woman who mixed with high society, was a part of Sigmund Freud's inner circle, and eventually joined the Austrian underground, where she helped thousands of Jews and anti-Fascists escape the Nazis. Her remarkable life story continued after the war with philanthropy and preservation of Freud's memory.” ―Library Journal
“In many ways, Muriel Gardiner's existence was the embodiment of the American dream ... With a keen eye for detail, Isenberg explores Gardiner's life and admirable sacrifices.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“The life of Muriel Gardiner ... is truly heartwarming – the number of lives she saved, or at least had a hand in saving, was incredibly great. And the saga of her long, adventurous life makes thoroughly fascinating reading ... Biographer Sheila Isenberg delves quite deeply into Muriel's personality, drawing on Muriel's own writings and the recollections of her wide circle of acquaintances ... the narrative tells not only a detailed story of her life, but also adds greatly to our knowledge of life in Europe as events marched inexorably toward the catastrophe of World War II.” ―San Diego Jewish World
“A long overdue biography of a remarkable woman. Mining hitherto unpublished material Sheila Isenberg skillfully weaves together the complex threads of Muriel's life into a riveting story of her many loves and unassuming heroism.” ―Brenda Webster, author of Vienna Triangle
“Sheila Isenberg tells Muriel Gardiner's extraordinary story exceedingly well. Muriel's War portrays the energetic idealism and exceptional generosity of its subject with admiration, even devotion. Through careful attention to every available source, Isenberg details the remarkable achievements of a life filled to overflowing with benevolent action and unflinching reflection.” ―George Rupp, President, International Rescue Committee
“Beautiful, brilliant, rich, brave, Muriel Gardiner could have been a character in a potboiler novel -- but she was a real-life heroine of the Nazi resistance and Sheila Isenberg has done an extraordinary job of documenting her remarkable life both conscientiously and suspensefully in this absorbing biography.” ―Amanda Vaill, author of Everybody Was So Young: Sara and Gerald Murphy ―A Lost Generation Love Story
“This is an utterly absorbing book. Exhaustively researched and thoroughly documented, it is dramatic, suspenseful, and movingly inspirational.” ―Arthur Zitrin, M.D., Professor emeritus of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, Co-producer of the documentary film, "The Real Julia: The Muriel Gardiner Story"
“Isenberg puts Gardiner's life in sharp focus--what twists in her life brought her to Vienna and ultimately to underground resistance work during and after Hitler's 1938 takeover of Austria. We see what makes Gardiner human, and what makes her a hero, but most of all we see how one woman can make a difference in the lives of many. Muriel Gardiner looked fear in the face, and as Eleanor Roosevelt has said, 'we must do that which we think we cannot.'” ―JoAnn Myers, chair of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center, professor of Political Science & Women's Studies at Marist College
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