Peter and Pauli Winter are brothers, born to a wealthy German industrialist and his American wife at the end of the nineteenth century. They proudly serve as young officers in the German military in the Great War, live through the tumultuous 1920s in Berlin, but go in very different directions, and end up on opposite sides in World War II. Peter, the elder, is a brilliant lawyer and talented pianist. Pauli, loyal but less talented, bonds with other embittered veterans of the First War, serves in the Freikorps, and joins the Nazi party early, rising in their ranks. Peter’s Jewish-American wife is arrested after the Nazis rise to power, ultimately leading to his emigration to America.
Deighton has written an interesting story. However, it felt to me far too much like those multigenerational blockbusters that were so popular in the 70s and 80s, sketching in a brief episode in the brothers’ lives before moving on a year or two. I would have preferred a more concentrated story.