Tuesday 3 August 2021

Hannah's War

Finished July 30
Hannah's War by Jan Eliasberg

This historical novel is set near the end of World War II in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the title character, Hannah Weiss is one of the team working on the atomic bomb. Hannah was born in Austria and was working at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Germany before the war. Over the course of the novel we see her backstory. As a Jew, she was relegated to a lab in the basement with little support. But she had a curious mind that did well with her tasks. As the likelihood of war drew near, and the threats to those close to her grew larger, she also grew worried about what any work of hers would be used for. 
In the time in Los Alamos, the other narrator is an American agent, searching for a spy in the small community. Messages have been intercepted that have drawn attention and concern that someone may be sharing data with scientists in Germany. The search quickly narrows in on Hannah, but the agent is drawn to her in a more personal way as well that may affect how he does his investigation. 
This was another interesting story about a smart woman, and this one inspired by a real woman who was key to the development of the bomb, a scientist names Lise Meitner. 
Although inspired by her, the story is largely fictional and I found the character of Hannah a fascinating one. It was also interesting to see the dynamic between the agent and this smart, yet vulnerable woman. The gradually revealed backstory to Hannah and her activities both before the war and now was well done and made sense to me. 
A good read.

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