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Publisher's Summary

The Historians blends a fascinating historical intrigue with the quick pace and excitement of a thriller.” (Ellen Keith, author of The Dutch Wife)

“The perfect read.... Exciting and enjoyable.” (New York Times Book Review)

The Secret History meets The Alice Network in this riveting tale of murder and conspiracy in Sweden during WWII by critically acclaimed author Cecilia Eckbäck.

It is 1943, and Sweden’s neutrality in the war is under pressure. Laura Dahlgren, the bright, young right-hand of the chief negotiator to Germany, is privy to these tensions, even as she tries to keep her head down in the mounting fray. However, when Laura’s best friend from university, Britta, is discovered murdered in cold blood, Laura is determined to find the killer. 

Prior to her death, Britta sent a report on the racial profiling in Scandinavia to the secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jens Regnell. In the middle of negotiating a delicate alliance with Hitler and the Nazis, Jens doesn’t understand why he’s received the report. When the pursuit of Britta’s murderer leads Laura to his door, the two join forces to get at the truth.

But as Jens and Laura attempt to untangle the mysterious circumstance surrounding Britta’s death, they only become more mired in a web of lies and deceit. This trail will lead to a conspiracy that could topple their nation’s identity - a conspiracy some in Sweden will try to keep hidden at any cost.

©2021 Cecilia Ekbäck (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Historians

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Misleading "history"

I enjoyed listening to this book – not the best ever, but it kept my interest – and then in an epilogue at the very end, Edbäck reveals that the dreadful secret at its center is something that did not happen in Sweden. I was sort of shocked, as I'm guessing that lots of readers will come away thinking that Swedes participated in the same sorts of unspeakable practices as the Nazis did – something that is not true. This seems very irresponsible to me. I should have read more closely the Washington Post review that sent me to this novel:

"Every author of fiction set in the past has to gauge how tolerant readers will be with pure invention, and mysteries are imaginative confections as a rule. But because Ekback’s book has within its scope the politics of a particular moment – Sweden on the tightrope of neutrality in 1943 – the demand to hew close to the record was perhaps higher than she reckoned. Though the overly speculative nature of the story is a weakness, its construction and dramatic denouncement are quite satisfying, and this what-if story illuminates a little-explored corner of wartime Europe." (Clare McHugh)

2 people found this helpful

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A good listen

Set during World War II, this tale is different than the norm. Scandinavian history regarding race and claims of superiority, here specifically in Sweden, is a topic I was not knowledgeable about. The story is interesting with good characters (some aren't good people) and superbly narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, as always.

2 people found this helpful

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compelling

It was an amazing book, I love the performance she's my favorite reader. The characters were developed brilliantly. My only question is I thought Jens put Britta's thesis in the garage and then took it out and put it in his desk. I kept waiting for the moment he would find it as I thought he'd forgotten what he did. I even went back and listened to see if I had it wrong. I am wondering where I went wrong?

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tedious tangle

The background of Swedish politics (Aryan supremicists vs. fair-haired/fair-minded folk) that maintained the country's WWII neutrality is interesting and appropriately horrifying.

The murder plot is intricate and slow. I'd hoped for distraction on a three-hour drive, but I ended up switching to public radio.

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A must read!

A clear look at how far some will go in the name of "race hygiene " and eugenics. The ugly truth revealed.

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Scandinavia in WWll

Interesting information about Sweden during the WWll era. For some people it will be very surprising and worth learning. Do listen to the author’s notes at the end of the book.
I didn’t like the structure of the book, the alternating narrators. This seems to be a popular technique right now. I prefer a more seamless style.

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A different visit to Scandinavia

The storyline of this book is fascinating and a bit frightening. The characters are believable and Laura and Jens well-defined. Descriptions of area and other characters are good. I would recommend this book to historic fiction fans and to those who have lived or visited Scandinavia. It’s a good read!