'It didn't occur to me to ask my father as I grew up why he had nothing from his past before the war - no pictures of himself when young, no family photographs, no mementos of any kind. He was a man without a past, and I failed to notice.' Annette Kobak's father, born in Czechoslovakia, escaped as a nineteen- year-old from German-occupied Poland in the spring of 1940 and joined the Polish army in France, ending up intercepting morse code in a top secret unit in London. This, and very much more, she discovered only half a century later when she started, with his help, unravelling his past after the collapse of the Soviet union. This mesmerising book is at once a daughter's search for an understanding of her father and a search to understand - through her father's life - the Czech and Polish experience of the war.
For the past twelve years Annette Kobak has reviewed regularly for the New York Times Book Review and the Times Literary Supplement, and for five years has presented the BBC Radio 4 series The Art of Travel.