Authors, Film & TV

Published on July 27th, 2020 | by Jerry Doby

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Hannah’s War: The Story Of The Remarkable Woman Who Won The Race To Develop The Atomic Bomb

With Hannah’s War, her debut novel, award-winning screenwriter and film director Jan Elias berg wanted to give an unsung, brilliant female scientist her due. Eliasberg’s re-imagining of the race to build the atomic bomb brings cinematic scope, unforgettable imagery, pitch-perfect dialogue, and rich, complex characters to a compelling story full of action and unexpected plot twists.

Based on the life and genius of Jewish-Austrian physicist Lise Meitner, Hannah’s War is Eliasberg’s nuanced answer to those and other important questions about scientific discovery, patriotism, morality, love, and loyalty. In giving voice to Dr. Meitner’s experiences, Eliasberg wanted to correct the historical record and to enable her own daughter and her peers to see that “history is filled with remarkable women of towering achievement and of deep humanism; we need only look beyond the authorized texts to see them. I wrote to shine a light on one of these women, and I hope Hannah’s War will be a beacon for all women.”

In 1945, Dr. Hannah Weiss, an Austrian-Jewish physicist, is removed from her essential work with the Critical Assemblies Team at the Los Alamos National Laboratories and is taken for interrogation. Major Jack Delaney, a rising star in the shadowy world of military intelligence, is convinced that someone in the Top-Secret Manhattan Project is a spy; the captivating, brilliant and mysterious female scientist soon becomes his primary suspect.

As World War II reaches its crescendo, the Allies and the Germans are racing to complete and test the atomic bomb — a weapon powerful enough to end WWII and, perhaps, all future wars. A weapon that, in the wrong hands, could destroy the world. As Jack questions Hannah about her involvement with the infamous Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin ten years earlier, and her apparently friendly relationships with high-ranking members of the Nazi party, he slowly becomes seduced by her intelligence and quiet confidence. Is Hannah a Nazi spy, or is she protecting a far more personal and dark secret of her own? When Jack finally uncovers the truth about her life in Berlin before the war, Hannah must compromise her political allegiance, and choose between two lovers, and two versions of history.

A vivid, page-turning and inspiring re-imagination of the final months of World War II, and the brilliant researchers behind the first atomic bomb, Hannah’s War is an unforgettable love story about an exceptional woman, and the dangerous power of her greatest discovery.

In writing Hannah’s War, Jan Eliasberg wanted to remind the world that history is filled with remarkable women of towering achievement and of deep humanism; we need only look beyond the authorized texts to see them. By shining a light on one of these women, she hopes this story will be a beacon for all women to live not only with authenticity and pride, but also with the support and acknowledgement of the wider world.

Jan Eliasberg’s prolific career includes writing and directing dramatic pilots for CBS, NBC, and ABC. She was hand-picked by Michael Mann as the first woman to direct Miami Vice and Wiseguy; as well as countless episodes of TV series, including Thirteen Reasons Why, Bull, Nashville, Parenthood, The Magicians, Blue Bloods, NCIS: Los Angeles, Supernatural, and numerous others. Her debut feature film Past Midnight, starred Paul Giamatti, the late Natasha Richardson, and the late Rutger Hauer. Throughout her tenure as a celebrated screenwriter, Eliasberg has written films driven by strong female leads, including Fly Girls about the Women Air Service Pilots in World War II for Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz.

Eliasberg received her B.A. from Wesleyan University, Magna Cum Laude, and holds MFAs from the Yale School of Drama in Directing and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson in Fiction. A native New Yorker, Eliasberg currently lives in New York City. 

Hannah’s War: A Novel

Back Bay Books

ISBN: 9780316537445



About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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