Stewart Dubinsky’s father never spoke of his experiences during WWII. After his death Stewart sorts through his deceased father’s papers and discovers that David Dubin (sensitive about his Jewish origins, he dropped the last syllable from his name, but his son reinstated it) had been the subject of a court martial and imprisoned. David’s story is told in flashback as Stewart reads his journal written whilst in prison.
As a young idealistic lawyer during the last months of the war, David Dubin was sent to the front to apprehend an American hero, Robert Martin, who had gone local and stopped obeying orders. Caught up in the battle David is angered by the senseless killing and the futility of war. When he witnesses at first hand the horrors of Balingen concentration camp, his outlook is changed forever. In the end Stewart discovers the father that he never knew as well as the secret he took to the grave.
David Dubin’s story emerges gradually through his journal, and these sections are so compelling that it is hard to believe that this is a work of fiction and not an autobiography. Scott Turow lists his sources in detail, explaining that he used some of his own father’s experiences of WWII as background. The result is an intensely personal, moving account that is totally engrossing.