To Die Beautiful: A Novel (Hardcover)
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A heartrending novel based on a true story of love, loyalty, and the limits we confront when our deepest values are tested, by award-winning writer Buzzy Jackson
How far would you go to protect the people and country you love?
It’s 1940 and Hannie Schaft is a shy nineteen-year-old law student living in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands with ambitious goals for her future. But dreams die in wartime, and Hannie’s closest friends are no longer safe as fascism insidiously rises in her country. Hiding them is not enough. Hannie may be young but she can’t stand aside as the menace of Nazi evil tightens its grip. Driven by love and moral outrage, Hannie soon becomes an armed member of the Dutch Resistance movement.
Hannie discovers her own untapped ferocity—wearing lipstick and heels to lure powerful Nazis close and assassinate them at point-blank range, and bombing munitions factories. As humanity collapses around her, Hannie finds a chosen family of friends within the Resistance and falls in love with a dashing fellow resister at a tremendous cost. Her greatest weapon is her determination to "stay human" (blijf menselijk) . . . a promise increasingly difficult to keep.
As Hannie is drawn deeper into a web of plots, disguises and assassinations, whispers spread like wildfire among enemy and friend alike. They all know of her, if not her name: she’s “the Girl with Red Hair.” A match for any Nazi soldier. A true threat. And a target.
To Die Beautiful is a timely look at how fascism flourishes and what good people do to fight back. Based on real events, To Die Beautiful is told with the drama and emotional resonance of meticulously researched history.
About the Author
Buzzy Jackson is the award-winning author of three books of nonfiction and has a PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley. A recent fellow at the Edith Wharton Writers-in-Residence, she is also a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She lives in Colorado.
"Exquisitely balanced between cloak-and-dagger secrecy, the grinding realities of waiting out your quarry, and the crushing fear of discovery, To Die Beautiful displays the courage and power of a woman committed to doing what is right in a world gone terribly wrong."
“This isn’t just a brilliant novel, it’s a measuring stick you’ll use determine what lengths you would go to protect those you love. How much would you risk and how much could you possibly endure? The legendary Hannie Schaft set the bar for all of us. We may not make it to her heights, but this inspiring book will expand our awareness of what’s possible, and haunt you in the best possible way.”
—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy
“Countless books have been written about the Holocaust . . . To Die Beautiful is different. Buzzy Jackson’s novel opens the door to a world in which ordinary non-Jews, often in the first flush of youth and promise, risk their lives, refusing to let evil continue. . . . With razor-sharp authenticity and basic tenderness, Buzzy Jackson restores our own sense of humanity.”
—Jewish Book Council
"[A] stunning novel."
—The Denver Post
“[A] made-for-the-big-screen narrative of high stakes and gripping drama.”
“I wish I'd written To Die Beautiful. Buzzy Jackson is a very talented writer and To Die Beautiful is headed for the best-seller list. So, be the first on your block . . ."
“Buzzy Jackson recreates Hannie Schaft’s incendiary life out of a handful of ash and sparks. An unforgettable alloy of death and hope, To Die Beautiful is a heartrending and breathstopping novel of resistance – the more so for being the essence of truth.”
—Elizabeth Wein, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity
"Yes, To Die Beautiful is inspiring, empowering, and timely, compellingly detailed and impressively researched, but better still, it’s an immersive story of a terrifying warren of history through which our guide is the sort of hero we all need now: relatable and resolute and absolutely right. I am grateful to Buzzy Jackson for the introduction to the indomitable Hannie Schaft, a warrior I know I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come."
—Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is
“In To Die Beautiful, Buzzy Jackson has taken the historical facts that are known about the brief, heroic life of Hannie Schaft and transformed them into a captivating novel about a woman who was utterly fearless and totally determined to exact revenge upon certain notorious Nazis and their Dutch collaborators… Let us never forget Hannie.”
“This poignant and powerful novel is based on the true story of Hannie (Jannetje) Schaft (1920-1945). . . . At its heart, this is a novel of strength and loyalty that graphically demonstrates how committed single individuals can indeed impact much larger configurations.”
—Historical Novels Society Review
“In this thrilling fictional debut, Buzzy Jackson merges her fascinating historical research about the women of the Dutch resistance with evocative and pacy storytelling. To Die Beautiful is a riveting, moving and important novel about the courage it takes to stand up for what is right. Hannie Schaft is an inspiration.”
—Judy Batalion, New York Times bestselling author of The Light of Days
“To Die Beautiful brings Hannie alive and I finished it in almost one gulp! What an amazing, inspiring, true-life hero she was. Her youth, her red-headed beauty, her innocence and her ferocity. This is a story about a young girl fighting with all her life against fascism. As the first-hand memories of WWII are soon fading, we need story-tellers like Buzzy Jackson to carry them on. There is an urgency at this time to remember and acknowledge how women have stepped up and will step up to the fight. And we need just these kinds of books to give voice to the women who for so long were muted in the official accounts. An engrossing read.”
—Gwen Strauss, The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany