This is a biography of Ethel Rosenberg, the first woman executed in the United States not for the crime of murder, and mother of two small children, aged 10 and 6. Always paired with her husband as ‘the Rosenbergs’—executed in New York State for spying for the Soviet Union—in this book Anne Sebba brings Ethel’s own story to life, from her dreams for becoming a singer when she was young to the last hugs before she was put to death. As Sebba flags at the beginning, “Ethel Rosenberg was not, I believe, a spy.” She was a committed communist, loyal to her husband and not well-turned out (because the couple were poor) or emotional on the witness stand. That, apparently, was enough for her to end up on the electric chair, where even her electrocution was botched. Like so many Cold War stories, it’s a brutal one.