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Amram Scholar Series Presents: Anne Sebba

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy.

Sunday October 3, 2021 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm


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Prize-winning author and journalist Anne Sebba writes about strong, iconic women such as Enid Bagnold, Mother Teresa, Laura Ashley, and Jennie Churchill, who used their power and influence, fought for their own rights, and championed the rights of others. At the year’s first Amram Scholar Series program, she will talk about another iconic woman, Ethel Rosenberg, whose story she tells in her newest book Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy.


About the Book:

In June 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a couple with two young sons, were led separately from their prison cells on Death Row and electrocuted moments apart. Both had been convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union, even though the U.S. government was aware that the evidence against Ethel was shaky at best and based on the perjury of her own brother.

Seventy years after her trial, Sebba is telling Ethel’s story for the first time with full use of the dramatic and tragic prison letters she exchanged with her husband, lawyer, and therapist over three years — two of them while in solitary confinement.

Hers is the resonant story of what happens when a government motivated by fear tramples on the rights of its citizens.

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy is the first book in more than 30 years to focus on one half of that couple and shares evidence that has surfaced since then. Ethel was a bright girl who might have fulfilled her personal dream of becoming an opera singer but instead found herself struggling with the social mores of the 1950s. She longed to be a good wife and perfect mother to her two small boys while battling the political paranoia of the McCarthy era, antisemitism, misogyny, and a mother who never valued her. Ethel’s profound love for and loyalty to her husband made it impossible for her to incriminate him, despite government pressure on her to do so. Instead, she courageously faced the death penalty for a crime she hadn’t committed, orphaning her two young sons.

Purchase this book through WHC’s Mitzvah Mall

This program will take place over Zoom. RSVP is required


About the Author:

Anne Sebba is a prize-winning biographer, lecturer, and former Reuters foreign correspondent who has written several books, including That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor and Les Parisiennes. A former chair of Britain’s Society of Authors and now on the Council, Anne is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. She lives in London.


Anne Sebba comes to Washington Hebrew through our partnership with the Jewish Book Council.

This Amram Scholar Series lecture is generously supported by the Leo & Elizabeth Goodman Public Issues Endowment Fund. 



Sunday, October 3


10:30 am - 12:00 pm




Adult Ed, Amram, Lecture


Marsha Humphries