Award-winning biographer Anne Sebba, author of Ethel Rosenberg, in conversation with Ohio State noted historian David Steigerwald!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - 6:00pm

New York Times bestselling author Anne Sebba discusses her moving biography of Ethel Rosenberg, the wife and mother whose execution for espionage-related crimes defined the Cold War and horrified the world. Sebba will be in conversation with noted Ohio State historian and author David Steigerwald in a live streamed event on Zoom Webinar.

Registration is on Eventbrite. A general admission ticket to access the event is $5; a ticket that includes ETHEL ROSENBERGwaives the admission fee and is $30 with tax. Registration closes at 4:00 pm on the day of the event.

The Ohio State University Department of History and JewishColumbus are Gramercy’s Community Partners for this exclusive conversation.

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, despite the fact that the US government was aware that the evidence against Ethel was shaky at best and based on the perjury of her own brother.

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy is the first to focus on one half of that couple for more than thirty years, and much new evidence 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 1950’s. She longed to be a good wife and perfect mother, while battling the political paranoia of the McCarthy era, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and a mother who never valued her. Because of her profound love for and loyalty to her husband, she refused 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 children. Seventy years after her trial, this is the first time Ethel’s story has been told with the full use of the dramatic and tragic prison letters she exchanged with her husband, her lawyer and her psychotherapist over a three-year period, two of them in solitary confinement. Hers is the resonant story of what happens when a government motivated by fear tramples on the rights of its citizens.

Anne Sebba is a prize-winning biographer, lecturer, and former Reuters foreign correspondent who has written several books, including That Woman 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. 

David Steigerwald is Professor of History at The Ohio State University, teaching courses in Twentieth Century America, ranging from WWI through The Sixties. He is the recipient of the university's highest recognition for teaching excellence, the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. He was also awarded the College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award for 2016-2017. Dr. Steigerwald also directs the History Department's World War II Study Abroad program.