“With Muriel’s War, Sheila Isenberg has performed an act of historic justice, at long last giving Muriel Gardiner the credit she deserves for her acts of courage and selflessness.”

– The Jerusalem Post, April 28, 2011

 

“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, Nov. 11, 2010

Muriel’s War: An American Heiress in the Nazi Resistance

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The captivating story of a courageous woman who left a life of privilege for a world of danger and international espionage

Born into a wealthy meatpacking dynasty in Chicago and educated at Wellesley, raven-haired beauty Muriel Gardiner renounced her family’s materialistic lifestyle and as a young woman left the United States. First studying at Oxford, then attending the University of Vienna medical school, Muriel befriended Anna Freud and studied the fledgling science of psychoanalysis just as the dark clouds of Hitler’s war were moving across Europe. During this tumultuous time, she married twice, had a daughter and, in Vienna, fell in love with a leader of the Austrian underground.. When Germany finally annexed Austria in March of 1938, Muriel began to help Jews and anti-fascists escape, smuggling forged documents across borders and risking her own life. Eventually, she left Europe for New York—but using her wealth and vast network of connections, continued to rescue many still trapped behind enemy lines.

Here, for the first time this electrifying woman who impressed everyone she met with her intelligence and powerful personality, receives her due. An American heiress turned resistance hero, Muriel went on to become an eminent psychoanalyst, and was a founder of the International Rescue Committee. Drawing from Gardiner’s unpublished writings and interviews with those who knew her best, Sheila Isenberg offers Muriel’s astonishing story of moral courage and humanistic zeal. With all its twists and turns, this inspiring account reveals a heroic woman who lives on as a legend of her time.

Hear: Sheila discuss Muriel’s War on WAMC

Read: Women’s History Month Profile: Muriel Gardiner

Watch: History Book Review: “Muriel’s War: An American Heiress in the Nazi Resistance by Sheila Isenberg”

Reviews

“Terrible times can elicit extraordinary deeds even from ordinary people, and Muriel Gardner was anything but ordinary … If some portion of Gardiner’s story sounds familiar, it’s because Lillian Hellman … hijacked it for her allegedly autobiographical account of the woman she called ‘Julia’ … [Muriel's War sets] the story straight about this intrepid American heroine.”
– The Boston Globe, Dec. 26, 2010

“Also interesting is “Muriel’s War: An American Heiress in the Nazi Resistance” by Sheila Isenberg (Palgrave Macmillan). Muriel Gardiner was a brunette beauty who was the heiress to a Chicago meatpacking fortune, but, rather than become a socialite, she studied at Oxford and went to the University of Vienna medical school…” Read full review here
–  WWD Magazine, Aug. 22, 2011

“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, Oct. 1, 2010

“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, Oct. 25, 2010

“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, Nov. 3, 2010

“A new biography Muriel’s War … is a story of courage and heroism. Chicago-born Muriel Gardiner was the daughter of a Protestant mother and a Jewish father, and heiress to a meatpacking fortune … [S]he went to Vienna and after Germany invaded Austria, she began to help Jews and others escape. It’s a fascinating story that deserves to be widely known.”
Chicago Jewish Star, Jan. 28-Feb. 10, 2011

“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

Pennington Post – “Author chronicles amazing life of Watershed Association benefactor Muriel Gardiner Buttinger” – 1/19/11

Princeton Online – “Watershed Associations Hosts Special Author Event – Reveals Muriel’s War at Princeton Public Library on Feb. 5″ – 1/26/11

The Princeton Packet - “Watershed celebrating publication of Muriel’s War” – 2/1/11

Hopewell Express – “Remembering one woman’s fight against evil” – 2/11

Times of Trenton – “Startling life of heiress finally told” – 2/5/11

Times of Trenton – “High Risk Humanitarian Lead Double Life” – 2/6/11

Duluth News Tribune – “Published: Author to share tale of American Schindler who saved Jews during World War II” – 4/12/2013

What people are saying about Muriel’s War:

“A fabulous, fantastic book.  should be required reading of any one living in the U.S today, given the attack on leftists and trade unions. Thank you so much for writing it, what a fantastic effort on your part. I would love to know what has happened to her daughter, Connie.  Is she involved in politics at all? Thank you again for a exquisite and heartbreaking  book.”
– Gloria Norton



©2011 Sheila Isenberg. All rights reserved.

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