"Shocking ... compelling ... like the best prison lit!" — Village Voice Literary Supplement

 “Author Sheila Isenberg provides a fascinating look at women 'compelled to dance with the masters of death,' women so obsessed with convicted murders that they marry them, often giving up everything else in their lives, including their children, to fulfill their deepest fantasies. Isenberg interviewed dozens of these women, some of their men, as well as corrections professionals, psychiatrists, and psychologists. The profile that emerges is of 'little girls lost,' women who were damaged by painful childhoods who are living in a fantasy world, in love not with a real man but with an illusion based on denial. " —Kirkus Review 

“Pathology meets pathology. Investigative journalist Isenberg's book is compelling.— Amazon Review


Muriel’s war: An american heiress in the nazi resistance

“Terrible times can elicit extraordinary deeds even from ordinary people, and Muriel Gardiner was anything but ordinary … [Sheila Isenberg sets] the story straight about this intrepid American heroine.” —The Boston Globe 

"[Sheila Isenberg has] performed an act of historic justice.” The Jerusalem Post

“… privilege, exotic friendships, intellectual adventure, international intrigue, and danger marked the life story of American heiress Muriel Gardiner. But that doesn’t cover this woman’s contribution to the history of World War II, the magnetism that drew a fascinating string of lovers to her, nor her nerve in using her wealth to save countless lives from the rolling Nazi juggernaut in the 1930s and 40s. It seems like the stuff movies are made of. And in Gardiner’s case, maybe it was.” —America in World War II Magazine

“Muriel Gardner was a beautiful, electrifying woman who mixed with high society, was a part of Sigmund Freud's inner circle, and eventually joined the Austrian underground, where she helped thousands of Jews and anti-Fascists escape the Nazis.” —Library Journal

“In many ways, Muriel Gardiner's existence was the embodiment of the American dream … With a keen eye for detail, Isenberg explores Gardiner's life and admirable sacrifices.” —Kirkus Reviews

"Beautiful, brilliant, rich, brave, Muriel Gardiner could have been a character in a potboiler novel — but she was a real-life heroine of the Nazi resistance and Sheila Isenberg has done an extraordinary job of documenting her remarkable life both conscientiously and suspensefully in this absorbing biography." —Amanda Vaill, author of Everybody Was So Young: Sara and Gerald Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story 


A hero of our own: The Story of varian fry

eBook now available! Click here.

Read Sheila Isenberg’s letter to the editor in the New York Times about Varian Fry.

“One of the BEST BOOKS of 2001. This little book is a life of a saint equal to any medieval tome.” – St. Louis Post-Dispatch  

“[W]ith its stories of desperate exiles, menacing Nazis, forged documents and midnight escapes through the mountains, it reads at times like the script for some old Hollywood movie. Think Warner Brothers in the 1940's. Think 'Casablanca' (even down to the transit visas for Portugal). All that's missing is Peter Lorre.” —New York Times

 “The story of Varian Fry is important on many levels, historical and personal. Skillfully evoking a crucial moment in recent history, Sheila Isenberg tells the compelling and dramatic story of how an ordinary person, thrust into a situation of extreme danger, did extraordinary things for one year in wartime France, then drifted almost lost through the rest of his own life. It is also a story of institutionalized bureaucratic stupidity that must never be forgotten so that it is never repeated.” – Richard Holbrooke, U.S. diplomat

 “Using Fry’s own words and the testimony of refugees and compatriots, Isenberg skillfully evokes the tense atmosphere of wartime Marseille, where a hoard of desperate refugees found precarious asylum. She describes the extreme measures Fry took to save as many endangered souls as he could, far more than the 200 intellectuals, scientists, writers, and artists he had been sent to aid, gathering others to help him arrange escapes from internment camps, forge documents, bribe officials, and spirit refugees across the border into Spain ...” – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Featured Book

“ … the ‘American Schindler’ or ‘The Artist’s Schindler’...” – Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, Featured Book

 “Isenberg devotes most of the book to the specifics of Fry’s action-packed months in Marseilles, when he ferried numerous Jews (Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Andre Breton, and Hannah Arendt, to name a few) out of occupied France. This is where Isenberg starts to explore new terrain: Tales of survivors and saviors are familiar to us, but Fry was both. And he was American.” – Washington Post Book World


Varian Fry, the only American honored at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, played a crucial role in rescuing more than 1,000 European refugees from the Nazis in the early 1940s … This highly readable biography tells the exciting escape stories of the underground railroad he organized to lead refugees from southern France across the Pyrenees to freedom. Isenberg sets the rescue stories against the background of American isolationism and anti-Semitism at the time … The drama here is in the thrill of rescue, the realistic portrait of a complex leader, and the decidedly non-heroic truths about WWII at home.”  — Booklist

 “Sheila Isenberg has written a masterful biography of this most enigmatic man. She pulls no punches in exhibiting his flaws, but shows no restraint in praising his virtues … [Fry's life] is truly unique and compelling, and Isenberg tells it with considerable compassion. The book is well worth the attention of anyone interested in reading about a most unlikely 20th-century hero.” – The Roanoke Times 

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My Life as a Radical Lawyer: William Kunstler

“At 75, the peripatetic and controversial Kunstler steps back to recount his professional and private life. Notable is his candor: Kunstler admits to craving the limelight and enjoying the trappings of celebrity …Isenberg … has tamed Kunstler's memoirs into a readable narrative of a very busy life.” Publisher’s Weekly 

“[The] book suggests that he sees himself more as a legal performance artist, or a professional controversialist, than a civil rights lawyer in the conventional sense … [It’s] a loosely organized oral history of some of the most provocative trials of the last three decades, interspersed with gossip about his friends and enemies.” — New York Times


“At various times perfunctory and highly personal, this memoir … combines elements of formal biography with intimate family memories ... [President] Clinton is quoted as saying he would not have been elected without Brown, whom he rewarded with a cabinet post. … The memoir is clearly a labor of love.” —Publisher’s Weekly