David Robbins simple literary style is used to great effect in bringing you straight into the story, which is engrossing if a little predictable. The four main protagonists are believable, and the reader is given time to get to know them, and inevitably care what happens to them.
The story itself, based loosely as it is on a true story, moves along in a fairly linear way, and the twists and turns which I felt the first half of the book promised, never really materialised. The young beautiful American, who having lost her grandparents to the Nazis, decides to join the partisans and dedicate her life to the war. Her passing herself off as Russian perfectly at all times even though she was raised in New York, before inevitably becoming the love interest of the main character, stretches credibility a little. That this entirely gratuitous character, who it transpires happens to be an excellent marksman, having probably had little real reason to make the most of her talents whilst growing up, does not irritate more, is testament to the skill of the writer. In deed to some degree she becomes believable, which given the number of clichés she represents, is no mean feat.
The Stalingrad of 1942 that these characters inhabit is elegantly and subtly described. By understating the description of such squalor and deprivations we know existed and choosing instead to leave these things in the background, and refer to them only as they apply directly to the characters, David Robbins has produced a wonderfully authentic setting for the story. And therein lies its real strength.
History must be more than dates and facts if it is to have any value, the real worth of such an authentic description is that it allows us to better understand the past.