Ethel Rosenberg biography claims ‘tainted evidence’ led to wrongful conviction

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Ethel Rosenberg biography claims ‘tainted evidence’ led to wrongful conviction

Historian Anne Sebba's latest work explores fascinating story of convicted spy who became the first woman in the US to be executed for a crime other than murder

Francine Wolfisz is the Features Editor for Jewish News.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

Anne Sebba’s fascinating new biography of Ethel Rosenberg was only released this week – and has already been snapped up by Miramax Films for a limited television drama series.

Known as America’s Dreyfus Affair, Rosenberg’s conviction for conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union continues to haunt the national conscience because, as Sebba argues, she was innocent.

On 19 June 1953, Ethel Rosenberg became the first woman in the United States to be executed for a crime other than murder.

She was 37 and the mother of two small children. As Sebba argues, her life was barbarically cut short on the basis of tainted evidence for a crime she almost certainly did not commit.

The book features prison letters Ethel exchanged with her husband, Julius – who was also convicted and then executed for espionage – and her lawyer and psychotherapist over a three-year period.

There are new interviews with her sons and others who knew her, including a fellow prisoner.

Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy by Anne Sebba is published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, priced £20 (hardback). Available now.

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