For some East Germans, the fall of communism was like the end of a long and painful love affair: free to tell the truth at last, they found they no longer wanted to hear it. The nation may be reunified, but the life of former East German dissident Vladimir Meyer has fallen apart. His wife has deserted him. He has been fired from his university for being a Marxist. Vlady wants to tell his alienated son, Karl, what his family's long and passionate involvement with communism really meant. This is interwoven with the story of Ludwik, the Polish secret agent who recruited Philby, and of Gertrude, Vlady's mother, whose desire for Ludwik is matched only by her devotion to the Communist ideal. As the plot unfolds through the political upheavals of the twentieth century, Vlady describes the hopes aroused by the Bolshevik revolution and discovers the almost unbearable truth about their betrayal.