In this sequel to his international bestseller Children of the Arbat , Rybakov picks up the story of Sasha Pankratov and his friends from Moscow's fashionable Arbat district as Josef Stalin launches the reign of terror that saw millions of Soviet citizens arrested, exiled or shot for counterrevolutionary activities. Exiled to Siberia in the previous novel for writing satirical verse in a student newspaper and now forbidden to return to Moscow, Sasha migrates to a provincial town where he finds work as a driver. Back on Arbat Street, his friends Varya, Nina, Yuri, Yadim, Lena and Vika grapple with the moral dilemma posed by the purges: should they remain silent and tacitly acquiesce, or participate in hopes of personal gain? Rybakov brilliantly segues from this cross-section of the Moscow intelligentsia to a chilling interior monologue in which Stalin plots the destruction of high-ranking members of his inner circle. Rybakov's complex, fascinating, repellent and utterly convincing psychological portrait of a demagogue ranks among his finest achievements here, which also include the fruitful further development of the intriguing personalities established in Children of the Arbat . This dynamic, sweeping saga of "Stalin's children," the first truly Soviet generation, captures the fluidity and confusion of the purge years, serving as a powerful testament to their legacy of fear.