Based on the trials and tribulations of the Winter family, this novel covers the years 1900 through 1945. It also serves as a loose back drop to the Bernard Sampson series. Anyone who enjoys Deighton's sparse, clean prose, his adherence to historical details, and international intrigue will find this an enjoyable book.
The novel chronicles the lives of two Berlin brothers -Pauli and Peter Winter. The book also details the city of Berlin, and how it changed from the Biedermier Era through the decadent twenties, and eventually its destruction in 1945. Peter and Paul Winter, thier family and friends represent the conflicting social strands of Germany, which produced both Bach and Himmler. To add to the plotline, the Winter brothers mother hails from a wealthy American family, whose democratic-capitalistic ideals clash with the fin-de-siecle Berlin. This clash, while mild early on, becomes central as the plot thickens. Deighton throws in all the usual dramatic devices to keep the story moving. The reader is confronted with adultery, murder, chauvanism, racism, greed, and decadance, as well as loyalty, chilvary, and love.
Deighton, has an obvious love for Berlin and European history; he stays true to the social, political, and cultural battles which doomed Berlin to half century of conflcit. This conflict is well told through the Winter family. For those who've read the Sampson novels, they will also see cameo appearances of many minor characters who crop up during the life of Bernard Sampson. This novel will not disappoint.