Historian, Diplomat, Novelist

Ancient Sparta

Schrader’s six novels set in Ancient Sparta are viewed by leading classical scholars as both accurate and plausible, in sharp contrast to the bulk of existing popular literature which grossly misrepresents and distorts Spartan society. She has participated in educational programs sponsored by the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies, and two of her novels about Sparta have been translated into Polish and Greek respectively. The launch of her Greek edition of A Heroic King (Λεωνιδας της Σπαρτης: Προς τις Θερμοπυλες) was marked by an event in modern Sparti hosted by the mayor Petros Doukas in September 2022.

The Crusader States

Schrader’s work on the crusader states encompasses a major non-fiction work, The Holy Land in the Era of the Crusades: Kingdoms at the Crossroads of Civilizations, and six novels set in the Latin East. The Holy Land in the Era of the Crusades brings together modern scholarship from a variety of disciplines and counters prevailing popular myths by demonstrating that religious tolerance rather than fanaticism, intellectual activity rather than warfare, and cultural exchange rather than bigotry characterized these unique societies. With the help of engaging characters drawn from history, her six novels set in Outremer reflect the findings of her research and tell the history of the crusader states from the period leading up to the Third Crusade through the baronial revolt against Emperor Frederick II.

Second World War and Military Aviation

Schrader’s work on the Second World War and aviation started with her dissertation on General Friedrich Olbricht, a leader of the German Resistance to Hitler, which was published in German by a renowned German publisher and widely praised in East and West. She subsequently published a comparative study of women pilots in WWII (Sisters in Arms: The Women who Flew in World War Two) and a history of the Berlin Airlift (The Blockade Breakers: The Berlin Airlift). Her novels on the period include a novel based on the research conducted for her dissertation (Traitors for the Sake of Humanity), a novel on the Battle of Britain (Where Eagles Never Flew), and a novel examining the stress of flying for Bomber Command (Moral Fibre). Battle of Britain RAF fighter ace Wing Commander Bob Doe called Where Eagles Never Flew “the best book on the life of us fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain that I have ever seen.”


Schrader has accumulated more than forty literary accolades over the last decade, including a prestigious Book Excellence Award for Envoy of Jerusalem as Best Biography 2017, a Gold (1st Place) in the category Historical Fiction 2020 from Feathered Quill Award for The Emperor Strikes Back, and a Hemingway Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction from Chanticleer International Book Awards for Where Eagles Never Flew in 2021. In addition, Traitors for the Sake of Humanity was a finalist for the highly competitive Foreword INDIES awards in the category Military History. 

In summary, according to highly respected Feathered Quill Reviews: “Helena Schrader’s in-depth stories, fantastic characters, and ability to write an unforgettable tale makes her one of the best authors out there!”

Work in Progress

Schrader is currently working on a trilogy of novels set in the Berlin Airlift. She hopes to release the first of these in 2023. You can find out more about her books and awards, read review excerpts and interviews at her website: http://helenapschrader.com

Personal History

Helena was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the daughter of a professor, and traveled abroad for the first time at the age of two, when her father went to teach at the University of Wasada in Tokyo, Japan. Later the family lived in Brazil, England and Kentucky, but home was always the coast of Maine. There, her father’s family had roots, and an old, white clapboard house perched above the boatyard in East Blue Hill.

It was the frequent travel and exposure to different cultures, peoples and heritage that inspired Helena to start writing creatively and to focus on historical fiction. She wrote her first novel in second grade but later made a conscious decision not to try to earn a living from writing. She never wanted to be forced to write what was popular, rather than what was in her heart.

Helena graduated with honors in History from the University of Michigan, added a Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Commerce from Patterson School, University of Kentucky, and rounded off her education with a PhD in History cum Laude from the University of Hamburg, awarded for a ground-breaking dissertation on a leading member of the German Resistance to Hitler. She worked in the private sector as a research analyst, and an investor relations manager in both the U.S. and Germany before joining the U.S. diplomatic corps.

Helena published her first book in 1993, when her dissertation was released by a leading academic publisher in Germany; a second edition followed after excellent reviews in major newspapers. Since then she has published four additional non-fiction books, starting with Sisters in Arms about women pilots in WWII, The Blockade Breakers about the Berlin Airlift, and Codename Valkyrie, a biography of General Olbricht, based on her dissertation, and The Holy Land in the Era of the Crusades: Kingdoms at the Crossroads of Civilizations.

In June 2010 she was awarded the “Dr. Bernard LaFayette Lifetime Achievement Award for Promoting the Institutionalization of Nonviolence Ideals in Nigeria” by the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria.

She grew up sailing on the Maine coast and served as a petty officer on the sail-training schooners Sir Winston Churchill and Malcolm Miller. She has owned four horses over the years. She retired to her home in Blue Hill, Maine, where she lives with her husband Herbert and her two dogs Max and Roma.

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the author of five critically acclaimed non-fiction history books and twenty historical novels, seven of which have earned one or more literary awards. She holds a PhD in history from the University of Hamburg, which she earned with a ground-breaking biography of a leader of the German Resistance to Hitler, and served as an American diplomat in Europe and Africa.

Helena’s chief areas of expertise are ancient Sparta, the Crusader States and the Second World War/Military Aviation.