Schrader’s first published work in the English language was a comparative study of women pilots in WWII (Sisters in Arms: The Women who Flew in World War Two). This was followed by a comprehensive history of the Berlin Airlift (The Blockade Breakers: The Berlin Airlift). Her aviation novels include 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.” Moral Fibre was hailed by the Foreign Service Journal as a "tribute to those who fought for freedom."
Her current project, Bridge to Tomorrow, is a three-part series on the Russian blockade of Berlin which triggered the most massive airlift in aviation history. Although largely forgotten, the Berlin Crisis of 1948-1949 has enormous relevance today. Not only has the invasion of Ukraine demonstrated Russia’s revived aggressive ambitions, but many experts warn that China may seek to regain control of Taiwan via a blockade. Parallels between the incessant use of disinformation to destroy democratic institutions in the Cold War era and the media tactics of today’s fascists are all too obvious.
Bridge to Tomorrow conveys the high drama of this crisis where the ideologies and interests of Americans, British, Germans and Russians clashed. It brings to life the men and women who overcame unprecedented challenges to undertake a humanitarian mission — and succeeded in delivering the most spectacular logistical achievement of the 20th century. In the ruins of Hitler's former capital, enemies became friends because of an aviation experiment that no one — not even its originators — thought could succeed.
The first book in the series, Cold Peace, which was released in June 2023, sets the stage for the Blockade and Airlift. Cold War explores the enormous challenges faced by the Airlift. Cold Victory depicts the conclusion of Blockade — and the price paid for Berlin's freedom. Cold Peace has already won six literary accolades, including runner-up for Book of the Year from the Historical Fiction Company and GOLD for Historical Fiction from Feathered Quill.
The Second World War
Schrader's publications on the Second World War 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 (General Olbricht: Ein Mann des 20. Juli). A English-language biography of General Olbricht followed a few years later under the title Codename Valkyrie. Schrader also released a novel based largely on the extensive research conducted for her dissertation (Traitors for the Sake of Humanity). In addition, three of her aviation titles are set in the Second World War: Where Eagles Never Flew, Grounded Eagles and Moral Fibre.
Schrader's interest in ancient Sparta started when she encountered the beauty and richness of Sparta and recognized that reality conflicted with modern literature. Returning to the ancient sources, she discovered that the archaeological and historical evidence is at odds with popular myths. After stripping away the misinformation, a very different Sparta emerges. Schrader's six novels set in Ancient Sparta seek to depict this fascinating society in conformity with ancient sources and common sense rather than modern politics. Her works have won the critical acclaim of classical scholars. She has participated in the "Sparta Live!" lecture series sponsored by the modern municipality of Sparti and the University of Nottingham's Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies as well as taken part on panels at international academic forums on Sparta. The third book in her Leonidas trilogy has been translated and released in Greece.
The history of the crusader states is another topic in which popular misconceptions obscure the historical record. Schrader's novels set in the Holy Land during the crusader era seek to show the Crusaders States as they were: a multi-cultural, tolerant, and sophisticated crossroads of civilizations. Schrader's novels are based on the historical record and incorporate the insights gained from modern archaeological surveys. Her history of the crusader states, The Holy Land in the Era of the Crusades: Kingdoms at the Crossroads of Civilizations, was the first book to pull together recent academic findings from a variety of disciplines and integrate the information into a comprehensive history and topical description of the crusader states. Schrader's focus on the crusader states rather than the crusades makes her books unique and valuable contributions to the literature on the era.
Schrader's books have won 31 awards and received a total of 55 literary accolades over the last decade. Highlights include Cold Peace being named runner-up for the Historical Fiction Company's prestigious BOOK OF THE YEAR award, a Book Excellence Award for Envoy of Jerusalem as Best Biography, Hemingway Awards for 20th Century Wartime Fiction from Chanticleer International Book Awards for Where Eagles Never Flew in 2021 and for Moral Fibre in 2022. For an overview of awards please go to the awards page.
According to highly respected Feathered Quill Reviews: “Helena Schrader’s in-depth stories, fantastic characters, and ability to write an unforgettable tale make her one of the best authors out there!”
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. During her diplomatic career, she served primarily in Europe and Africa as an economic officer.
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, 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 and now 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 nineteen historical novels, eleven 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 Aviation, the Second World War, Ancient Sparta, and the Crusader States.
Copyright Helena P. Schrader
Copyright Helena P. Schrader