A multi-layered and engaging novel by one of Germany's most important contemporary novelists and a fascinating journey into German post-war history. Like in Am Beispiel meines Bruders Timm takes real life characters like Alfred Ploetz - who coined the term "racial hygiene" - and asks big questions about the quest for alternatives to the status quo while at the same time painting a vivid picture of a country destroyed by war and an inhuman ideology and telling a moving story of a young man at the beginning of his life. Germany, late April 1945: The American officer Michael Hansen, 25, returns to the land of his birth and accepts an assignment from the secret services: to find out what role the eugenicist Professor Ploetz played in the Nazi regime. While the war continues to rage regionally, Hansen takes up quarters on the Ammersee in Bavaria. In an antiquarian bookshop, he meets the dissident Wagner, an early companion of the scientist. Wagner tells him the story of their friendship, which began in Breslau at the end of the 19th century and took the two students, via Zurich, all the way to America - and right into the middle of the debate about the best social order: socialism according to Marx versus the utopian project of the community of Icarians, founded by the French revolutionary Étienne Cabet in America. Through Wagner's autobiographical confessions, Hansen discovers the Faustian pact that the racial hygienist Ploetz made with the Nazis and the very different fate that met the antiquarian because of his position of resistance. Hansen's journey through the materially and morally decimated country allows him to witness the dawn of a new era that would shape German history. At the same time, it turns into an éducation sentimentale, with Hansen also learning some lessons about love.