Chapter 1 Summary
Walter von Ulrich and his English wife Maud live in Berlin, Germany, in 1933, as the Nazis are rising to power. Their son, Erik, echoes the racist views of chancellor Adolf Hitler. Walter is disturbed that Maud, who is a columnist for a socialist newspaper, has written an article critical of Hitler. Maud takes her daughter, Carla, to her office for the day. When Hitler’s Brownshirts attack the building, Carla saves the day by pulling the fire alarm. The reporters and staff are able to escape as the Nazis shut down the paper. Out on the street, Maud and Carla meet their old friends, Ethel Leckwith and her son, Lloyd.
That evening, Lloyd and Ethel join the von Ulrichs for dinner at the restaurant owned by Robert von Ulrich, Walter’s cousin. They discuss their past, as well as Germany’s future, though they are interrupted by Thomas Macke, now of the Gestapo but previously the von Ulrichs’ gardener. After dinner, they see that the Reichstag, Germany’s seat of power, is on fire. Lloyd goes inside and sees Adolf Hitler, who is blaming the fire on the Communists. Lloyd reports this to his mother and the von Ulrichs, stating that there is going to be a purge of the non-Nazis. Macke looks into the file on Robert von Ulrich, who had humiliated him at the restaurant.
At a rally for the Social Democrats, Walter and Maud are joined once again by Ethel and Lloyd. Also present are Werner Franck, the son of Maud’s friend Monika, and Volodya Peshkov, the son of Grigori Peshkov, a Communist. The Brownshirts invade the rally, but the Socialists fight back. Werner curses the Nazis, even though his father is a Nazi sympathizer, and thinks about joining the Communists with Volodya. Erik, Walter and Maud’s son, joins the Hitler Youth, though his sister, Carla, tells him he will put the whole family in danger. When the Ulrichs’ maid, Ada, goes into labor, Erik goes for a Jewish doctor. Ada gives birth to Kurt, who is born with birth...
(The entire section is 504 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
It is the summer of 1935, and Eva Rothmann (the daughter of the von Ulrichs’ Jewish doctor) has been sent to America to escape the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews. She meets Daisy Peshkov (the daughter of Lev Peshkov) at school and is invited to spend the summer holidays with her. Daisy wishes to climb up the social ladder of Buffalo, New York, but her father’s gangster reputation, as well as his mistresses, makes it difficult. Daisy is upset that her father did not keep his promise to take her to the White House, instead taking Gladys Angelus, an actress in the studio he owns. Daisy and Eva go to a beach party. Daisy is hoping to attract Charlie Farquharson, whose father lost much of his wealth in the crash on Wall Street. Daisy sees a marriage with Charlie as a means of social advancement, if only she can win over his snobby mother.
Greg Peshkov, Lev’s illegitimate son by his mistress, goes to lunch with his father and senator Gus Dewar. Greg wants to get involved in politics and is hoping that Senator Dewar will take him on as an intern. Dewar asks Lev to stop funding the right-wing Liberty League. In an unspoken understanding, Lev agrees as long as Dewar takes Greg on as an intern. Daisy buys a dog to entice Charlie Farquharson.
Woody Dewar is infatuated with Joanne Rouzrokh, though she is eighteen to his fifteen. At a ball, he is hoping to dance with her but is interrupted in his pursuit by Charlie Farquharson. Charlie is thinking of asking Daisy Peshkov to marry him, but his mother might object because of Lev Peshkov’s gangster activities. Charlie asks Woody to get his grandmother to invite Mrs. Olga Peshkov to join the Buffalo Ladies’ Society. Woody promises to do so, but is more interested in Joanne, with whom he manages to pet before she breaks it off. As promised, Woody convinces his grandmother to invite Joanne’s mother to be accepted into the society. Woody attends the protest march against the Peshkov metal...
(The entire section is 512 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
In May 1936, Lloyd Williams is a student at Cambridge, where he has organized an anti-Fascist meeting at which his mother will be the main speaker. Also addressing the audience is Robert von Ulrich, who has once again started his Bistro Robert, which caters mostly to the homosexual community at Cambridge. Ruby Carter, a maid, is anxious to meet Ethel Beckwith, who is once again a Labour member of Parliament. Lloyd tells his mother that the local Fascist group is headed by Boy Fitzherbert, though he does not know that the two of them are half-brothers. At the meeting, Robert tells of his experience in Berlin. The gathering is interrupted when Fascists throw stones through the window. Ethel convinces the crowd to avoid reaction.
Lev takes his wife and Daisy, along with Eva, to England. Daisy enters into the society of the aristocracy by hinting that her father was a Russian nobleman who had been ruined by the Depression. She meets Ruby and gives her money for a dentist. At a party, Daisy also meets Lloyd Williams, but she has little interest in him. She is more interested in Boy Fitzherbert, who agrees to get her an audience with the king.
Lloyd visits his grandparents in Wales, where he hears talk about the fight against the Fascists in Spain. He is inspired to join the fight, but his mother unexpectedly breaks down in tears, telling him about her brother Billy’s experiences in the Great War. He promises to wait a month, which he agrees to mainly because he is fascinated with Daisy Peshkov.
Eva Rothmann marries Jimmy Murray, even though marriage to a half-Jewish German refugee might hinder his military career. Daisy finds herself relieved to have Eva off her hands so that she can concentrate on Boy Fitzherbert. He invites Daisy to his parents’ home in Wales, where she dresses in his clothes and finally manages to get him to propose marriage to her. Daisy and Boy are married that October, but Princess Bea (Boy’s mother) does not like Lev Peshkov and makes no pretense of showing it, calling his language coarse. Lev tells her and the rest of the wedding party of his father, who was hanged for allowing his cattle to graze on the landlord’s meadow. The hanging was watched by the landlord and his sister, who was in fact Princess Bea. Lev points out that this was how he defined coarse.
Lloyd, his sister Millie, and others from Aberowen go to blockade the march of the British Union of Fascists led by Sir Oswald Mosley against the Jews in the East End. Lloyd is startled to see Daisy and Boy Fitzherbert marching with the Fascists. The blockaders manage to stop the march, but Millie is pushed through a window and injured. Daisy informs Lloyd that she is now Viscountess Aberowen.
Chapter 4 Summary
Volodya Peshkov, the son of Grigori and Katerina Peshkov, is part of the Red Army Intelligence. He has made contacts within the German embassy, who provide him with information of the Nazis as well as the involvement of Germans in Spain. At a family dinner, Volodya’s sister, Anya, has her boyfriend as a guest. He turns out to be Dvorkin, who works with the NKVD, the secret police. Another guest, Zoya Vorotsynstsev, is obviously invited as a marriage prospect for Volodya. Despite the tension between the Red Army and the secret police, Grigori tries to make this a relaxed dinner. They are interrupted by Major Lemitov, Volodya’s boss, who arrives to tell Volodya that he and Dvorkin are to go to Spain to investigate the report about Germans willing to spy for Russia.
Lloyd Williams is in Spain, along with several other Welsh boys from Aberowen. He has fallen in love with the country despite the civil war. The boys are stunned at the arrival of a beautiful woman named Teresa, who has come to teach the illiterate Spanish soldiers to read. She dismisses their advances but is grateful for Lloyd’s sincere offer of assistance. Lloyd also meets Volodya, whom he had met previously in Berlin. Volodya asks Lloyd’s assistance to capture a German spy in their midst, but he is horrified at the violence of the arrest. Lloyd is shocked to see that some of his personal papers have been photographed by the spy.
In August 1937, Lloyd is in his first battle of the Spanish Civil War. He is fighting on the side of the government against the Fascist rebels led by Franco. The Russians are also supporting the government, but Lloyd is the target of jealousy by Ilya over Teresa. Ilya and another Russian attempt to kill Lloyd, but Ilya’s companion is shot instead by another Welshman, causing Ilya to take off.
Lloyd is frustrated that the commanders will not order tanks forward simply because a discredited Russian officer had suggested it. He and the other British soldiers are part of a troop of thirty-five who attack a Fascist-held church, only to be cut down. Five of the Brits manage to withdraw after they use all their ammunition, though Lloyd and Lenny are wounded. When they return to their camp, the Soviet commander charges them with desertion. Lloyd and Lenny are sent to escort prisoners, but the other three, including Lloyd’s cousin Dave, are shot. Lloyd returns to England, much to the relief of his mother and stepfather.
Chapter 5 Summary
It is the summer of 1939, and Thomas Macke of the Gestapo is watching for Volodya Peshkov come from the Soviet embassy in Berlin. Macke reflects on the positive changes in Germany since Hitler took power, along with the fall of Spain to the Fascist rebels. Macke and his fellow agent Wagner watch as Volodya leaves the embassy and follow him down the street, where he disappears into a building. Wagner enters but it seems the Russian has disappeared completely. This tells Macke that Volodya is indeed a Russian spy and a very good one.
Volodya meets Werner Franck, a German dissident, to learn of any contacts he has who might be interested in spying for Russia. Werner tells him of Heinrich von Kessel, who has a desk job in...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Lieutenant Lloyd Williams is stationed at Ty Gwyn, the Fitzherbert country home in Aberowen. He visits his family, noticing that they are beginning to look old, with the health problems that accompany age. He visits the family of his comrades who were killed in Spain, but he does not tell them that they died as deserters. At Ty Gwyn, Lloyd is astonished to see Daisy, who remembers him when they met before and Lloyd had reproved her for being a snob. Lloyd’s commanding officer looks at him with astonishment when he learns that his mother was a member of Parliament, having assumed that he was a proletariat son of a former housemaid.
Daisy is three months pregnant and has come to Ty Gwyn to have her baby. She begins to...
(The entire section is 419 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
Erik von Ulrich waits in a truck on the road to the Battle of France. Having completed some medical school, Erik has been assigned as a medical orderly. His sister, Carla, having been denied the opportunity to be a doctor, has become a nurse. Both of them send most of their wages to their parents. Erik’s truck is struck by artillery, killing his two companions. He panics and begins to run away, but his commanding officer stops him. He is horrified by the carnage of battle, but carries the wounded to the medical station. On May 20, 1940, Erik’s company reaches the English Channel, cutting off Allied Forces from entering France.
Lloyd Williams is a prisoner of war without having been in combat, left behind during the...
(The entire section is 515 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
Carla von Ulrich goes with Ada, the family maid, to visit Kurt, Ada’s mentally handicapped son, at the children’s hospital. The doctor tells Ada that Kurt needs to be sent to a hospital in Bavaria for experimental treatment. Ada and Carla reluctantly agree, hoping that there may be enough improvement so that Kurt can come home. That night, Carla goes to a Swing Kids club, a place where German youth dance to forbidden jazz music. There she meets Werner Franck, whom she’s had a crush on since childhood. They dance and, to Carla’s joy, Werner kisses her.
Carla and Ada learn that Kurt has died from a burst appendix, but Kurt had his appendix removed two years previously. Werner’s brother, who was at the same...
(The entire section is 582 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Greg Peshkov is once again interning in Washington for the summer. He goes with Sumner Welles to meet with Gus Dewar and his son, Woody. Welles and Dewar discuss the plan for President Roosevelt to meet with prime minister Winston Churchill on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, with Dewar along for the conference. The two leaders will agree on American assistance to the British in their fight against Germany without America's being directly involved in the war. There is also news from Asia, where Japan is beginning to expand. Not wanting to fight Japan, America will nevertheless impose an embargo on the nation. Greg hires a private detective to help him track down Jacky Jakes.
Woody Dewar goes to the beach with...
(The entire section is 464 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Volodya is shocked when he finds that there is a stash of vodka hidden in the closet of his parents’ apartment. His father is not a heavy drinker, though he has been known to get drunk at party gatherings. He learns that it is because of his mother, who is hoarding vodka to be used as currency when the Nazis invade Moscow. Grigori says that the government is moving out of the city in anticipation of the invasion. Volodya learns at his office that a message has been intercepted, talking about isotopes and gaseous diffusion. He realizes it has to do with what Zoya had been telling him about atomic weapons. He questions her about it, and she tells him that both Britain and America are working on plans for a “superbomb.” People...
(The entire section is 419 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Woody and Joanne are now formally engaged, planning to marry the summer of 1942 when Woody graduates from Harvard. They are flying to Hawaii to join Woody’s parents to see Chuck, in the unspoken realization that it might be the last time they see him alive. They are all certain that the United States will soon be at war with Japan. International trade has been severely disrupted, causing the tensions to rise even more. Woody and Joanne discuss their future. Joanne hopes to rise in her career, perhaps even being assigned overseas in an ambassadorial position. Woody objects to this as being disruptive of their marriage. Joanne resents the attitude that since she is a woman, her career must be put on hold while his career takes...
(The entire section is 488 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Daisy receives a letter from Charlie Farquharson, who had called her a snob and dumped her when they were both back in Buffalo. He begs for her forgiveness and asks to have dinner with her and her husband. Since Boy is still in Spain, Daisy accepts for herself. She is surprised to find that Charlie has lost weight and looks distinguished. They talk about the old times and Daisy’s promise to the girls in Buffalo that she would dance with the king, which she did. Charlie tells her of Joanne’s death during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Daisy tells him that the British are glad now that the Americans are in the war officially. Charlie tells her that he is in a fighter squadron, regularly flying over northern France, luring German...
(The entire section is 516 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
Carla von Ulrich steals medical supplies from the hospital where she serves as a nurse; she will take them to Dr. Rothmann, who is no longer allowed to practice medicine because he is a Jew.
On the way home, Carla is discovered by her friend Frieda Franck, who applauds her efforts. At home, her mother Maud has a new piano student, Lieutenant Joachim Koch, who tells Maud and Carla that there is to be a new offensive against the Russians in June. Maud plans on finding some way to let the Russians know, even at the risk of endangering her son Erik’s life, who is still at the Russian front.
Carla takes the medicine to Dr. Rothmann’s home but finds that he has been arrested and his son Rudi’s hands broken....
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
Greg Peshkov graduates from Harvard with a degree in physics. If he pursues a doctorate, he can avoid military service. However, he wants to enter politics, so he sees a military career as a necessity. And although he wants to join the military, he does not want to fight.
Since he has a degree in physics, he is assigned to the Manhattan Project, which is responsible for developing the atomic bomb. Plans are made to purchase land in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where there is sufficient energy, as well as a secluded valley in case an accident occurs.
Greg is dating Margaret Cowdry, his secretary as well as an heiress. They go to a club, where Jacky Jakes serves as their waitress. Greg tells Margaret of his past with...
(The entire section is 425 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
Lloyd Williams and Teresa still guide refugees over the Pyrenees from France to neutral Spain. On the current trip there is a mysterious Englishman, Watermill.
The group is stopped by some Nazi soldiers. Teresa explains that they are carrying food to the German troops at a nearby village, which indeed they are; but they are also escaping from the Nazis. After giving the soldiers some bottles of wine, Teresa is allowed to carry on.
At the Spanish town where they are to meet their transportation, Lloyd is surprised to see Lowther, who had been his condescending superior officer at Ty Gwyn. Lowther demands that they give him the truck waiting to transport the refugees to safety. Lloyd objects; he is now a major...
(The entire section is 466 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
Colonel Albert Beck, a wounded German soldier, arrives from the Russian front and is placed in Carla’s hospital. In his delirium, he says that Germany is losing the war.
Carla is still upset at the knowledge that she herself has killed a man, but Maud feels worse. She decides that Beck may be of help. When he recovers, she cautiously questions him and determines that he might be willing to spy for her. She knows that if she is wrong about him, he will report her to the Gestapo. She is not wrong, and Beck agrees to help her. He points out that she is facing the possibility of death, but she says that he is too. Beck replies that he is used to it.
Thomas Macke takes Werner Franck with him to an execution. He...
(The entire section is 489 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
After making love to Zoya in a hotel room, Volodya Peshkov asks her to marry him. She says no, stating that she does not want to bring children into such a world as this. She says that after the war she might accept, but he says that he might not want to marry her then.
Zoya points to this as typical of the inconsistency of men. She explains that her father was arrested for attending a Menshevik meeting, even though he did not support the party. Volodya’s father rescued him, but they saw twelve other workers executed. She says this took place under Lenin and so all the blame could not be placed on Stalin, as Volodya wants to do.
The door opens and Natasha walks in, telling Volodya that she was not able to...
(The entire section is 431 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
Woody Dewar leaves his position as an aide to his father and joins a parachute unit, deciding it is time to stop letting other men fight the war for him. Eddie comes to see Mrs. Dewar and tells her about Chuck’s death while trying to save him on the beach at Bougainville. Woody and Eddie talk about Woody’s imminent departure for London in preparation for the invasion of France later that year, 1944.
Greg Peshkov takes Margaret Cowdry to the symphony, but his real purpose is to watch Barney McHugh, a scientist on the Manhattan Project. McHugh was pointed out by J. Robert Oppenheimer as a Communist spy, but Oppenheimer himself is known to have Communist ties. FBI agent Bill Bicks is also there, but he has doubts....
(The entire section is 497 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
Woody Dewar is wounded in the leg at the Battle of the Bulge. Unable to parachute any longer, even after his leg heals, he returns to civilian life in Washington.
On April 12, 1945, Woody and his father discuss the upcoming conference in San Francisco concerning the United Nations. Gus is furious at the conservative Republicans who do not want anything to do with the Soviet Union and will fight against any compromises that will result in world peace. They are startled to see Vice President Harry Truman running through the hallways. Gus assumes that President Franklin D. Roosevelt has died.
Volodya Peshkov is with the Red Army as it enters Germany and approaches Berlin. He is bothered by the intense...
(The entire section is 445 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
On April 30, 1945, Adolph Hitler commits suicide. A week later Germany surrenders, and the war in Europe is over. Daisy anxiously awaits news of Lloyd, fearful that he might have been killed in the last days of fighting. Her friend Eva is hoping to hear news of her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Rothmann, from whom she has not heard since the war started.
Woody will never forget Joanne, but he is planning to ask Bella to marry him. He also has decided that he does not want to go into politics, as much as this will upset his father. He takes some of the photographs he took at Pearl Harbor to the National Press Agency. They are impressed with them and want to buy them, but Woody says they are not for sale; he wants a job....
(The entire section is 449 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
After the wedding, Volodya and Zoya move into a very small apartment. Volodya worries that Zoya is trying to emasculate him by making him do “womanly” chores like wash the dishes. She suggests that they wash them together, though she is still naked. The door is bashed open, and Ilya (Volodya’s brother-in-law) comes in and tells Zoya that she is under arrest. He says that it is unacceptable that capitalist America has developed the atomic bomb before Communist Russia, so there must be sabotage on Zoya’s part. Ilya will not let Zoya put on clothes, insisting that she be marched off naked as a sign of her depravity. He and Volodya fight, with Zoya also being beaten. She is taken off, still naked, and Volodya calls his father,...
(The entire section is 444 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
In 1946, Berlin is divided between the four conquerors: Russia, America, Britain, and France. In Soviet-occupied Berlin, Carla does not know any woman who has not been raped by the Russian soldiers. She and Frieda become pregnant; Frieda manages to find someone to perform an abortion, but Carla decides to keep her baby. She is now eight months pregnant.
Maud, Carla, Ada, and Rebecca live together and try to stay alive. They sell furniture for food. Maud walks up to a house in the British section and shows herself to be an aristocratic British woman who is dressed in rags. She asks the party assembled there how they can stand by and let the German people starve. The hostess agrees and distributes food to as many people...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
In the beginning of 1947, it seems that most of Europe will vote to become Communist, especially in the eastern portion of the region. In some countries such as Great Britain, however, the Labour party gives what the Communists had promised. Austria and Germany had felt too strongly the heavy hand of the Red Army, so there is not much headway there by the Communists.
The winter of 1946 to 1947 is especially severe, which leads some to believe that the people will turn to the Soviets for relief from their misery. Volodya is becoming ambivalent about the party. He sees the austerity that has come after the war, which Communism does not seem to be able to relieve. He remembers what America was like when he visited before....
(The entire section is 432 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
In 1948, Volodya is in Czechoslovakia as part of the Red Army delegation. The Soviets are in talks with the Czech military following the overthrow of the coalition government and the placement of a Communist commission. The Czech foreign minister Jan Masaryk is being held prisoner in the Czernin Palace.
Volodya hopes that although it may have become Communist, Czechoslovakia might be convinced to remain neutral in Russia’s attempt to take control of Eastern Europe. Volodya’s brother-in-law, Ilya, is stationed at the Czernin Palace. He speaks of “dealing appropriately” with those people who stand in the way of the forward march of Communism, and Volodya realizes that he means to kill Masaryk. Hoping he is not too...
(The entire section is 412 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
In August 1949, Volodya Peshkov and his wife Zoya stand on a plateau in Kazakhstan, awaiting the result of the first Russian nuclear bomb test. This bomb is based on the plans that Volodya obtained from William Frunze and his wife in Santa Fe, New Mexico, four years previously.
Volodya knows that this bomb will save Stalin. The Soviet Union’s control over Europe has faded thanks to the Kremlin’s heavy-handed attempts at control as well as the Berlin Air Drop by the Americans and British. Only in Eastern Europe does Stalin maintain control, and only by brute force.
Truman has been re-elected and assumes the attitude that he is the leader of the free world. America has begun to stockpile nuclear weapons...
(The entire section is 442 words.)