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

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  76 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
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-f ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published December 7th 2010 by St. Martin's Press
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Chris Collins
Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A journey into one of the most interesting lives I have read. Muriel's War creates tension, intrigue and fascination in the life of a woman who lived what she valued. Not much of that around today. It was a life Socrates (Know Thyself) would have admired. Muriel knew herself and transcended the things in life that constrict most people. She had a magnificent journey in a time of world strife and suffering. She was a true hero of superlative character. Muriel left the world a better place than wh ...more
Liam Russell
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent biography. Worth reading for its historical value alone, but also a compelling story about choices made in trying times and how one person can make a difference.
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
The life of Muriel Gardiner Buttinger really began, before her birth, with her grandfathers who developed the meat packing industry in Chicago. Gus Swift and Nelson Morris developed an empire which made them very rich men. It was their fortunes that enabled her to live the life she chose. Although her father was Jewish, she was not raised in the Jewish faith. Religion was not a major issue to either her mother or her father. It was only during the time of Hitler's rise to power and enactment of ...more
John Kaufmann
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: adventure
Good book. Muriel was the independent-minded daughter of one of the Chicago meatpacking families. She is an interesting woman, with a social conscience - she even had a revolutionary streak and supported the socialists. She happened to be in Austria during the time the Nazis came to power there, and because of her privileged status as a wealthy American and her connections among the socialists, including her friend/lover, she was thrust into a position of providing haven and arranging for fake p ...more
Apr 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
True story of an American woman, heiress of the Swift (meatpacking) family. She disdained the live of a debutante, and became interested in women's and human rights She was in medical school in Vienna at the time the Nazi's rose to power and took over Austria. She and her husband helped many Socialists and Jews escaped. They were on the last boat from Europe. They helped found International Rescue Committee. Some believe Lillian Hellman's "Julia" was based on her life. She worked as a psychiatri ...more
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
A bit tedious, both the life itself and the writing about it. Interesting to read of the Austrian home-grown Nazi movement and how it appears to be at odds with the present-day idea of Austrians that they were victims overwhelmed by the Nazi takeover. Rather than a fascinating account of a fascinating life, it becomes a listing of Muriel's sexual escapades and train trips with cursory descriptions of the help she provided the poor.
Anna Carrie
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Muriel's War is a fabulously written account of an extraordinary woman. Though this book is less of a narrative and more of a well-researched biographical account, it is nonetheless captivating. Isenberg does an amazing job of taking all the many names and nuances of a complex life and period of history and keeping the reader next to her, facilitating this conveyance of a mass amount of information in an understandable way, while using lovely prose. A fascinating read.
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
It read more like a romantic novel rather then a tale of a heroine who was active in the resistance . I feel the author was more interested in the love affairs and the dramas of being rich rather then the legitimate good that Muriel was known for . Sadly this made me uninterested in her story and annoyed , otherwise my rating could of been higher .
Sue Myers
A nonfiction book about an American heiress during WWII. She is the heir of a meat-packing family(Swift)and is in Vienna during the Nazi rise to power. Through her connections and money she saves many Jews and Socialists by getting them out of the country.
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a great biography of a woman who lived her life for others and made an impact on many lives through her kindnesses and generosity. I read this book because of the Lillian Hellman/Julia connection, but the story of Muriel's life held my attention.
Apr 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Very interesting story. Not my favorite, but a good read.
Aug 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
What a terrible way to ruin a compelling life. Dry and boring writing does nothing to bring this woman's story to life.
Jennifer Johnson
Jan 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting often inspiring, but slow at times.
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
rec by Martha
Judith Guyot
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is engrossing and very well written. I highly recommend it.
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a fascinating story so far. Its fascinating that Muriel became a socialist and part of the WWII resistance movement despite her life of priviledge.
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