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Final Verdict: What Really Happened in the Rosenberg Case [Kindle Edition]

Walter Schneir , Miriam Schneir
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A new narrative of the famed case that finally solves its remaining mysteries, by the author of the bestselling Invitation to an Inquest
Walter and Miriam Schneir’s 1965 bestseller Invitation to an Inquest was among the first critical accounts of the controversial case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, famously executed in 1953 for passing atom bomb secrets to Soviet Russia. In Invitation the Schneirs presented exhaustive and damning evidence that key witnesses in the trial had changed their stories after coaching from prosecutors, and that the FBI had forged evidence.  The conclusion was unavoidable: The Rosenbergs were innocent.
But were they?
Thirty years after the publication of Inquest, Walter Schneir was back on the case after bits and pieces of new evidence started coming to light, much of it connecting Julius Rosenberg to Soviet espionage. Over more than a decade, Schneir continued his search for the truth, meeting with former intelligence officials in Moscow and Prague, and cross checking details recorded in thousands of government documents.
The result is an entirely new narrative of the Rosenberg case. The reality, Schneir demonstrates, is that Rosenbergs ended up hopelessly trapped: prosecuted for atomic espionage they didn’t commit—but unable to admit earlier espionage activities during World War II.
As it happened, Julius Rosenberg was only marginally involved in the atomic spy ring he was depicted as leading—while Ethel, critically, was not at all involved. The two lied when the contended they knew nothing about espionage. Ethel knew about it and Julius had practiced it, but the government’s contention that they had stolen the “secret” of the atom bomb was critically and fatally flawed. 

Editorial Reviews


“Walter Schneir’s willingness to acknowledge his own mistakes in the interest of historical truth makes all the more powerful his posthumous argument that new evidence throws light on precisely what Julius and Ethel Rosenberg did and didn’t do. And Miriam Schneir’s preface and afterword make clear why anyone who cares about our democracy should care about the truth of what happened here.”
—Victor Navasky, author of Naming Names and A Matter of Opinion
Praise for Invitation to an Inquest

“A major event in the history of the celebrated case.”
The New York Times
“Some of the best detective work in modern journalism.”
The Nation
“Shows that the atom bomb secrets which [the Rosenbergs] were accused of giving the Russians were naïve caricatures of scientific diagrams with little or no value. . . the execution of the Rosenbergs seems more meaningless than ever.”
—Arthur Miller

About the Author

Walter Schneir was a freelance writer on law, politics, and science. He is the co-author, with his wife Miriam Schneir, of Invitation to an Inquest, long considered the definitive book on the Rosenberg case. He is also the editor of Telling It Like It Was: The Chicago Riots and editor of the collection Westmoreland v. CBS. His work appeared in many publications, including The Nation, The New York Times Magazine, Ramparts, The Progressive, and the Times op-ed page. He died in April 2009.
Miriam Schneir is editor of Feminism in Our Time: The Essential Writings, World War II to the Present and Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings. In addition to Invitation to an Inquest, she is also the co-author of “Remember the Ladies”: Women in America, 1750–1815.

Product Details

  • File Size: 918 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (November 3, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0049B3A0S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,641 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Walter Schneir (1927-2009) and his wife Miriam wrote an earlier book, Invitation to an Inquest, defending the Rosenbergs. Miriam wrote in the Preface to this 2010 book, "For fifty years, my husband and colleague Walter Schneir remained a dedicated student of the Rosenberg case... In his last years he was at work on what he called a 'political memoir.' It was to be the story of his life, but also of the Rosenberg case, for the two were inextricably intertwined. Chapters from that unfinished memoir form the heart of the present volume... Walter regarded it as a writer's duty to pursue the truth... At the end, he was satisfied that he had reached his goal; that he finally knew what had really happened---and why."

A significant factor in him changing his mind about the Rosenbergs' guilt, is that in the post-Cold War era, "aging KGB stalwarts were eager to tell the world about their espionage feats." (Pg. 40) Documents were released, as well, and "when Walter and I read the pertinent Verona cables, it was immediately evident to us that Julius Rosenberg... had worked as a spy for the Soviet Union... (the data) left no room for doubt that Julius had persuaded friends and political comrades to give technical data from their jobs to the Russians." (Pg. 46)

Concerning their later trial, they wrote, "The charge in the Rosenberg trial was conspiracy to commit espionage; the defendants were all alleged to have been participants in a scheme aimed at obtaining national defence information for the benefit of the Soviet Union. That was certainly true of Julius." (Pg.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guilty, yes, but who was, and of what? August 15, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
To some, the fact that Julius Rosenberg is now known to be guilty may be all they want to know. But this excellent little book tells you what he (and others) were and weren't guilty of and who (like Ethel Rosenberg) wasn't guilty. Anyway you look at it, this case was part of the witch hunt, which was not only directed at intellectuals as some think, but was above all aimed at the working class. For this I recommend The Case of the Legless Veteran; 50 Years of Covert Operations in the US. Washington's Political Police and the American Working Class.; What Is American Fascism?; Notebook of an Agitator: From the Wobblies to the Fight against the Korean War and McCarthyism (paperback).

The Schneirs' original book Invitation to an Inquest is still worth reading for a lot of information on the case and its context. While some of their conclusions were wrong, on the basis of the information then available, they did their best to establish the truth.

The fact that the Stalinized Communist Party let their members become spies and then attempted to not acknowledge them is scandalous. The fact that there were people who knew the truth and pretended for years they didn't is also outrageous. But compared to people like David Greenglass, whose lies sent his sister to his death? And all the people who turned into snitches or paid liars for imperialism?
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16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Slant November 7, 2010
This book attempts to correlate and integrate old existing evidence with newer revelations. The latter include interviews with surviving witneses, newly released KGB archives, and various transcripts of pre-trial preparations, confessions and depositions obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Apparently, the Government had in its posession some secret evidence that differed markedly from the evidence that they presented at trial. The author(s) conclude that the defendants--though not totally blameless-- were not given a fair hearing and that they were excessively punished. All of this seems to be convincingly presented, although I'm sure that future researchers will come up with additional interepretations of this seemingly endless case.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Way too expensive for such a short book. July 21, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The story actually is that at least Julius Rosenberg wanted to give U.S.
secrets to Russia, but what he gave amounted to very little. The whole
story of the FBI's lie to make it seem like that cracked a huge case is
sickening. The author said that he should have gotten, maybe, 12 years
or so for what he did. Ethel was not a part of it. They were killed for
FBi public relations.

The argument is clearly presented, but it is a short read finished in a
couple of hours. A crazy price they are asking for it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read! July 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Finally a believable explanation of the Rosenberg case. A shameful piece of American history that needs to be understood in its entirety.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read May 19, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book does give the final word on what happened to the Rosenbergs. The author is able to update his earlier book because he was able to access KGB records and reveal who and what was happening in this sensational case.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you know everything about the Rosenberg's Case?
A good read. I knew next to nothing about this case and this book shed light on the
'behind the scenes' events.
Published 3 months ago by Rose N.
4.0 out of 5 stars worth reading
Well written and fascinating account of the new material concerning the Roseberg's and its impact on the author and the general public.
Published 6 months ago by Peggy R. Cole
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent story
new information however, this is still a dark and ugly point in US history. not that it's the only one, we're good at dark and ugly history.
Published 9 months ago by panda princess
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
One of my students who has a learning disability had to write a research report. I got her very interested in the ROsenberg case, but the library did not carry all of the books... Read more
Published 21 months ago by CoolGramma613
5.0 out of 5 stars Precision really matters! This is brilliant
Agree with all who like the "whodunnit" quality,the clarity and suspense of Schneir's writing here, but what is overwhelmingly important is the precision of his desconstruction of... Read more
Published on October 17, 2011 by weezie
Ameican journalism suffered a huge loss when Walter Schneir passed away. Along with Miriam Schneir, Walter tracked the facts, and lack of same, with objectivity and amazing... Read more
Published on July 16, 2011 by Simon Apple
1.0 out of 5 stars Pseudo-history by pseudo historians
Julius Rosemberg was a Soviet spy and his wife helped him. Their treason was discovered and they were condemned to death. Read more
Published on June 21, 2011 by r_ayora
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling read
We need more investigative journalists like Miriam and Walter Schneir - writers courageous enough to dig into big stories and find all the missing pieces - and put them together,... Read more
Published on May 6, 2011 by J.G.
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