When these stories were written the Estonians were not masters of their own house: the Soviets had been the occupying Power since 1940, apart from ... Show synopsis When these stories were written the Estonians were not masters of their own house: the Soviets had been the occupying Power since 1940, apart from the three years 1941-44 when the Nazis were in occupation. Young Estonians, conscripted into the armies of both belligerents, found themselves compelled to fight each other. This is the background of these six stories featuring Peeter Mirk, a young law student who is more often in than out of prison and labour camp during these years - like his creator Jaan Kross. Forever carrying a charge of guilt that he has only contributed to his friends' misfortunes, he describes two thwarted attempts at escape ("The Wound", "Lead Piping"), his own dilemma when he can save his life only by sacrificing a friend's ("The Stahl Grammar"), his hand in a practical joke perpetrated by prisoners on one of their number in Tallinn Central Jail, which goes badly wrong ("The Conspiracy"). The last two stories (" The Ashtray", "The Day Eyes Were Opened") involve train journeys, chance encounters, and the unavoidable necessity of giving Fate a run for its money. If the tone is necessarily sombre as Kross recalls the years when Hitler and Stalin determined his countrymen's destiny, a wry humour keeps slipping through at every turn, which will suggest to the reader that Peeter Mirk must be cousin to the Good Soldier Schweik.