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Publisher's Summary

"An extraordinary saga." (David Grann, New York Times best-selling author of Killers of the Flower Moon

The mesmerizing account of a granddaughter's search for a World War II family history hidden for 60 years.

Growing up in Paris, the daughter of a German mother and an Irish father, Svenja O'Donnell knew little of her family's German past. All she knew was that her grandmother and her mother had fled their home city of Königsberg in the far east of Germany near the end of World War II, never to return. But everything changed when O'Donnell traveled to Königsberg - now known as Kaliningrad, and part of Russia - and called her grandmother, who uncharacteristically burst into tears. "I have so much to tell you," Inge said.

In this transporting and illuminating audiobook, the award-winning journalist vividly reconstructs the story of Inge's life from the rise of the Nazis through the brutal postwar years, from falling in love with a man who was sent to the Eastern Front just after she became pregnant with his child, to spearheading her family's flight as the Red Army closed in, her young daughter in tow. Ultimately, O'Donnell uncovers the act of violence that separated Inge from the man she loved; a terrible secret hidden for more than six decades. 

A captivating World War II saga, Inge's War is also a powerful reckoning with the meaning of German identity and inherited trauma. In retracing her grandmother's footsteps, O'Donnell not only discovers the remarkable story of a woman caught in the gears of history, but also comes face-to-face with her family's legacy of neutrality and inaction - and offers a rare glimpse into a reality too long buried by silence and shame. 

©2020 Svenja O'Donnell (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The author, a graceful, eloquent writer, follows a trail that sometimes takes her through deeply troubling terrain, and she amply reveals the cruelty and compassion that characterize times of war. Haunting family stories that serve as a metaphor for human suffering everywhere." (Kirkus Reviews, starred) 

"Vivid and meticulously researched.... An incisive and multilayered account of family trauma, the dangers of nationalism and anti-Semitism, and the plight of refugees. This exceptional account transforms a private tragedy into a universal story of war and survival." (Publishers Weekly, starred) 

"Enlightening and timely.... This compelling testimonial details the deprivations German citizens faced during the war and reveals a dark part of Danish history.... [It] deserves a wide audience." (Booklist, starred) 

What listeners say about Inge's War

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Amazing, moving story

Inge’s War is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking books I’ve ever read. Not only Inge’s story, but a history lesson for the ages.

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Inge's story stayed with me for days!

Her experiences highlight the moral dilemmas involved in war time. Yes, Germany brought the horrors of war on itself and yes, the Nazi regime was evil. But for those who had to live with the consequences of war some of the answers are not so easy. O'Donnell does an excellent job of detailing her grandmother's story and, by the design of the story, also shows how long and painful the telling became for Inge. This is just one of thousands of stories of love, loss, tragedy, and choices that come out of war and it is told with gentleness and love.