#6Degrees of Separation: From Stasiland to…

April 4, 2020

 #6Degrees of Separation: From Stasiland to…

#6Degrees of Separation collage of covers

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


#6Degrees of Separation: from Stasiland by Anna Funder to ….

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I’ve seen this meme around for a while and a recent post by Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog inspired me to give it a try this year! Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!

Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

Play Along?

This month’s prompt starts with Stasiland by Anna Funder

Stasiland by Anna Funder (cover)

Stasiland by Anna Funder is a book I have not heard about, but it sounds like one I might be interested in adding to my TBR.

Amazon Summary: Anna Funder delivers a prize-winning and powerfully rendered account of the resistance against East Germany’s communist dictatorship in these harrowing, personal tales of life behind the Iron Curtain—and, especially, of life under the iron fist of the Stasi, East Germany’s brutal state security force. In the tradition of Frederick Taylor’s The Berlin Wall and Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families, Funder’s Stasiland is a masterpiece of investigative reporting, written with novelistic vividness and the compelling intensity of a universal, real-life story.”

Goodreads Summary: In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterward the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women, there are a thousand stories just waiting to get out. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany – she meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary ‘Mik Jegger’ of the East, once declared by the authorities to his face to ‘no longer to exist’. Written with wit and literary flair, Stasiland provides a riveting insight into life behind the wall.”

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn et al. (cover)First Degree. From the summary of Stasiland, the topic of resistance immediately reminds me of the story of six real women in Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution by Kate Quinn et al.

My Summary: Liberty! Equality! Fraternity! Six masterful storytellers collaborate to share the experiences of seven unforgettable women of The French Revolution. During the Revolution, these courageous and determined women felt compelled to resist, to speak up, and to exert their influence wherever they could. Even though these are six separate stories, some passionate convictions and ideas connect them. My Review.

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini (cover)Second Degree: Another story of resistance is the story of Mildred Fish Harnack in Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini.

My Summary: “Mildred Fish, an American College graduate, meets the love of her life, Arvid Harnack. After they fall in love, they marry and make their home in Arvid’s homeland of Germany. Mildred and Arvid thrive there, forming new friendships, and enjoying the intellectual and artistic offerings of 1930s Berlin. As Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party become more popular and powerful, Mildred and Arvid and their friends are compelled to resist. For years, Mildred and Arvid and their cohorts risk their lives to gather intelligence to bring down the Third Reich from within. Sadly, their sincere efforts don’t result in the help they desired or envisioned. This is a story of ordinary people who, while they should be enjoying their carefree youth, give their best efforts to fighting evil and saving their country.” My Review.

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon (cover)Third Degree: A book that I haven’t yet read but is high on my TBR and has the same strong themes of resistance is Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon.

Amazon Summary: Code Name Hélène shares the story of the astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.

It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

As LUCIENNE CARLIER Nancy smuggles people and documents across the border and earns a new nickname from the Gestapo for her remarkable ability to evade capture: THE WHITE MOUSE. With a five million franc bounty on her head, Nancy is forced to escape France and leave Henri behind. When she enters training with the Special Operations Executives in Britain, she is told to use the name HÉLÈNE with her comrades. And finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉE, where she claims her place as one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she–and the people she loves–will become.

The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell (cover)Fourth Degree: Connecting to these strong themes of resistance is the story of a real-life activist, Annie Clements, and her cohorts in The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell.

My Summary: In July of 1913, twenty-five-year-cold Annie Clements has seen enough of the unfair working conditions in the mining town of Calumet, Michigan and decides it’s time to fight for a change. The men who work in the copper mines endure long hours, dangerous conditions, and low wages. Annie organizes and encourages the women to support a strike, but she also faces possible imprisonment, her husband’s anger, and personal threats. The Women of the Copper Country is a fictionalized account of the courageous efforts of women to organize a strike in the early history of the labor movement.” My Review.

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite CLayton (cover)Fifth Degree: Continuing the theme of women who risk everything by becoming part of a resistance movement is Truus Wijsmuller who is written about in The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton.

 My Summary: Rescuing children, her life’s work… The Last Train to London shares the story of real-life hero Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance who risked her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany. (She was honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. )

The mission known as Kindertransport carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe. In addition to hearing about Tante Truus as she was known, the author imagines the lives of children such as Stephan (budding playwright), his younger brother. and Zofie-Helene (mathematics protegee). My Review.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas (cover)Sixth Degree: I’m breaking away from the women to mention Detrich Bonhoeffer. Many books have been written about his bravery during WW11, but for this post, I’m highlighting Bonhoeffer: Pastor Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Amazon Summary: “As Adolf Hitler and the Nazis seduced a nation, bullied a continent, and attempted to exterminate the Jews of Europe, a small number of dissidents and saboteurs worked to dismantle the Third Reich from the inside. One of these was Dietrich Bonhoeffer—a pastor and author. In this New York Times best-selling biography, Eric Metaxas takes both strands of Bonhoeffer’s life—the theologian and the spy—and draws them together to tell a searing story of incredible moral courage in the face of monstrous evil. Metaxas presents the fullest accounting of Bonhoeffer’s heart-wrenching decision to leave the safe haven of America to return to Hitler’s Germany, and sheds new light on Bonhoeffer’s involvement in the famous Valkyrie plot and in “Operation 7,” the effort to smuggle Jews into neutral Switzerland. In a deeply moving narrative, Metaxas uses previously unavailable documents including personal letters, detailed journal entries, and firsthand personal accounts to reveal dimensions of Bonhoeffer’s life and theology never before seen.”


I hope you enjoyed this #6Degrees of Separation chain from Stasiland to Bonhoeffer.

Even though I haven’t read Stasiland, the most striking thread that connects the stories in this chain is the remarkable and memorable women and men who have played a role in the resistance of evil and inequity. I have read five of the six in the chain and can highly recommend each one! (available reviews are linked)

I need to note that these are the first six books I thought to connect. Many stories are out there that could also fit this chain. Can you think of another title?

February #6Degrees of Separation post here.

March #6Degrees of Separation post here.

If you have an April #6Degrees of Separation post, please leave a link in the comments!

The choice for next month (May 2, 2020) is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.


Do you have ideas for creating your own chain?
What book would you add to this chain?


March Reading Wrap Up

Lighter Reads for Stressful Times.

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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  1. Well, this is a new one – I’ve read four of the six books in your chain (but I think you already knew that)! I knew about the Chiaverini book, because the publisher offered me the ARC of it, but I had to turn it down because my reading list was too full. Might have to revisit that later, though. Bonhoeffer also looks good. Great chain!

  2. I did enjoy your chain. I enjoyed The Last Train to London and like the sound of a couple of the other books you mentioned too.

    • (I just found your comment in spam) Bonhoeffer is very interesting and brave! I hope you get a chance to read about him!

  3. Great chain Carol. I have three of these already on my TBR and am on the waiting list at the library for The Last Train to London. I will have to check out the Bonhoeffer book.

    • It was interesting to me that the main character in Resistance Women, Mildred, was married to Bonhoeffer’s cousin. Bonhoeffer is mentioned briefly in the book.

      • Wow, that is interesting. I have often heard of Bonhoeffer from people at church who have read books about him. I think it is time to add this one for sure.

      • My dad was a seminary professor and taught classes on Bonhoeffer, so I grew up hearing a lot about him! Let me know how it goes!

  4. Apart from Stasiland, I haven’t read any of the books in your chain however Code Name Helene and The Last Train both look terrific.

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