Robert Junior never knew the father he was named for, an American G.I. who was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and fell briefly into the arms of a Belgian nurse.
Growing up with his mother in the lush forests of the Ardennes, Robert turns for guidance to his godfather, Markus Hebel, a Belgian who served in the German army in Russia.
Breaking the silence around his painful past, Markus speaks of the consequences and madness of war - of the son he lost at Stalingrad and the courage of the men who tried to free the trapped German soldiers with a desperate charge across the frozen steppe.
In so doing, Markus reveals a secret he has kept since the war, and a doubt that has gnawed at him for twenty years. Did he, a lowly radio operator, waste a chance to save an entire army from annihilation?
Roy Jacobsen has twice been nominated for the Nordic Council's Literary Award: for Seierherrene in 1991, and Frost in 2003, and in 2009 he was shortlisted for the Dublin Impac Award for his novel The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles.