Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
An Execution in the Family

An Execution in the Family

One Son's Journey

Robert Meeropol, Son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

St. Martin's Press




Robert Meeropol was six years old in 1953 when his parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed after being convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union at the height of the McCarthy era. Just before they were put to death, the Rosenbergs wrote a letter to their two sons saying they were "secure in the knowledge that others would carry on after them."

The Rosenbergs left their young sons a legacy that was both a burden and a gift, as well as an aching emotional void. Robert Meeropol grew up torn between the need to pursue his political values and his intense fear that personal exposure might subject him and his family to violence or even death.

An Execution in the Family details Robert Meeropol's political odyssey from being the Rosenbergs' son to becoming a prominent political activist in his own right, and it chronicles a very personal journey of self-discovery. This is the story of how he tried to balance a strong desire to live a normal life and raise a family with a growing need to create something useful out of his childhood nightmare. It is also a poignant account of how, at age forty-three, he finally found a way to honor his parents and be true to himself.


Chapter One

I WAS SIX YEARS, ONE MONTH, AND ONE DAY OLD ON MONDAY, JUNE 15, 1953-four days before my parents' execution. That hot June my ten-year-old brother, Michael, and I were living with friends of my parents, Ben and Sonia...


Praise for An Execution in the Family

“Meeropol's captivating memoir deseves a spot on American history bookshelves.” —Publishers Weekly

“What is compelling about Robert Meeropol's poignant memoir is his utter honesty in examining the question of whether his parents were guilty of espionage...His story is a personal, anguished search for truth, even while it illuminates a tragic moment in the history of our country.” —Howard Zinn

“Robert Meeropol tells his story in language that is direct, unflinching, meticulous and eloquent.” —Adrenne Rich

“In this touching memoir, Meeropol's honest and gripping story has never been more relevant than in the present erosion of civil liberties and mistrust of dissent.” —Marge Piercy

“Meeropol's work transcends victimization. Here is a clear-eyed witness to history; here is a true voice of conscience at a time of crisis.” —Martín Espada, author of Alabanza: New and Selected Poems

An Execution in the Family is both timely and revealing. It is also a disturbing reminder of how, in the name of national security, our preciously guarded constitutional guarantees can be easily trampled. It's a deeply moving account, with painfully personal insights, into one of the most controversial cases in American history-- and we must never forget.” —Danny Glover

“I was intrigued by this brilliantly honest memoir in which Robert Meeropol describes his struggle to honor his heritage as the son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg while striving to create his own identity. He writes powerfully of his childhood years of self muting, his adult years of self searching. And he writes with a lawyer's acumen on the question of his parents' guilt or innocence of the crime for which they were executed.” —E.L. Doctorow

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Robert Meeropol, Son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

Robert Meeropol is the founder and executive director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children and the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. He has been a progressive activist, author, and speaker for thirty years. Since its founding in 1990, the RFC has provided for the education and emotional needs of both targeted activist youth and children in this country whose parents have been harassed, injured, jailed, lost jobs, or died in the course of their progressive activities. Robert Meeropol lives in Massachusetts with his family.

Robert Meeropol

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Press

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