In the waning days of the Spanish Civil War, an unknown militiaman discovered a Nationalist prisoner who had fled a firing squad and taken refuge in the forest. But instead of killing him, the soldier simply turned and walked away. The prisoner, Rafael Sánchez Mazas--writer, fascist, and founder of the Spanish Falange--went on to become a national hero and ultimately a minister in Franco´s first government. The soldier disappeared into history. Sixty years later, Javier Cercas--or at least, a character who shares his name--sifts through the evidence to establish what really happened that day. Who was the soldier? Why didn´t he shoot? And who was the true hero in the story? Every answer yields another question in this powerful and elegantly constructed novel about truth, memory, and war.