Most people know Hedy Lamarr as one of the most glamourous Oscar-nominated movie stars of the 1940s, but the greatest legacy she may have left behind is her groundbreaking contribution as a scientist. Lemarr was an avid inventor and the person behind advances in communication technology that led to the Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth technology we use today.
Set in 1930s Austria before the start of WWII, The Only Woman in the Room introduces us to young Jewish Hedy Kiesler who marries the country’s richest man, Fritz Mandl, a munitions manufacturer often referred to as the “Merchant of Death.” Fritz is responsible for supplying weaponry to Mussolini and Hitler in deals struck over the couple’s dinner table where Lamarr was often the only woman in the room. Always the active listener, she learns of the Third Reich’s military strategy and the horrific plans for the Jewish people, soon after escaping to London and then to Hollywood.
When she begins to suffer from survivor’s guilt as the military plans she had previously overheard begin to manifest, Lamarr decides she must take action and help in some way. With the assistance of co-inventor George Anthiel, she utilizes the secret military information learned at her ex-husband’s side to develop an incredibly effective frequency-hopping weaponry system that could have ended the war sooner but ultimately ends up rejected by the Navy.
Marie Benedict is the author of The Other Einstein and Carnegie’s Maid. She is a lawyer with more than 10 years’ experience as a litigator for two law firms and for Fortune 500 companies.
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