I’m getting a lot of questions about Kat Polinski, the History Book protaganist. Is she based on someone I know and where does she get her grit and skills. Some years back, I met a bright, beautiful and articulate young woman whose family had been wiped out in just one day, and I asked her how she managed. “I build walls around me” she said. “No-one gets to know me that well. I’m wild and a little crazy and I dust myself off and keep going.” Those same emotions are inside of Kat. But she comes from a very different background. She is born into privilege, but not happiness. On her mother’s side she’s from America’s old moneyed elite, on the other from the war-ravaged European diaspora. Her grandparents on her father’s side, from Russia and Poland, settled in Ohio after the Second World War. Her father is a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) lawyer and an idealist who never gave up trying to create a fair world. Kat was raised in the heart of Washington’s political life, in a dysfunctional family where her only sister, Suzy, was ten years older than her — and is murdered at the beginning of the story. One reader asked if Kat wasn’t too young to do all the things she does. She’s 24. In covering the Iraq war, I have met many young women in the armed forces who tackle similar problems as Kat on a daily basis. Government systems block them. Less talented superiors smear them and insurgents are trying to kill them. They might not know everything, but they have a deep sense of justice and what is right and they do their job.