Booker Prize Finalist: A “gripping” novel of the World War I armistice negotiations that set the stage for World War II, by the author of Schindler’s List (The Guardian).
In November 1918, after four long years of murderous conflict, six men gather in a railroad car in a secluded forest outside Paris, France, to negotiate an end to World War I. A pacifist, left-leaning diplomat with no military knowledge or experience, Matthias Erzberger has been selected by the German high command to represent their surrendering nation, for reasons as baffling to him as to anyone. He is joined by France’s aging, vindictive Marshal Foch and Britain’s unbending Admiral Wemyss in an attempt to bring peace to a war-torn world. In these claustrophobic quarters the future is to be decided by men driven by ego, prejudice, fear, exhaustion, vengeance, delusion, and, in Erzberger’s case, conscience. But the well-meaning diplomat’s futile efforts to secure lenient surrender terms will have devastating consequences for Europe, the Fatherland, and Erzberger himself.
Renowned for his enthralling fictional accounts of historical events, award-winning author of Schindler’s List Thomas Keneally once again brings the heart-stopping human drama of history to life, as he brilliantly envisions the earth-shattering events that transpired in the forest of Compiègne, setting the stage for the Treaty of Versailles and the rise of the Third Reich.