As Tooly strolled back downtown, she glanced at other buildings. No matter how she imagined their insides - parties veering out of control, kitchens with faucets running, angry couples playing cards for real money - the truth was always more peculiar. In a vertical city, cramped dwellings were the only territory unreservedly reserved, each home an intimate fortress. Yet they were so easy to penetrate. ('Don't want to intrude, but I used to live here. Might it be possible to take a quick look? I happened to be passing and - wow, even just standing here, so many memories!') Mostly, one needed only knock, say a few lines, enter. Why limit yourself to the outside when you could walk right in, peek at their lives - maybe even leave with a handy nugget. Who is Tooly Zylberberg? How did she end up running a second-hand bookstore in Wales? The Russian émigré Humphrey teaches her to play chess, but how does he fit in? Or Sarah who turns up without warning and then disappears again? And what about Venn, the shadowy and charismatic figure who seems to be one step ahead of everybody? Spanning three decades, and taking us from Bangkok to Brooklyn to the border towns of Wales, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers is a story about how mystifying the past can be, and how the lives we lead can seem indecipherable even to us. It's a story about unexpected connections and the revelations that change everything. The Rise and Fall of Great Powers will consolidate Rachman's reputation as one of the most assured and exciting young writers alive.