To begin, three encounters, and then some ruminations about two deaths, the veiling of identity and the expression of kinship. The encounters are from the diary Isaac Babel' kept during his service with Budenny's First Cavalry Army in the Polish campaign of 1920; the deaths are those that frame the work of fiction he drew from this experience, Red Cavalry. That book begins and ends with the narrator contemplating a corpse–in each instance, the body of a Jewish man whose passing leads the narrator to confront the meanings of kinship and loss. In the first case, he witnesses bereavement; in the second, he experiences it. On one important level, the narrator's trajectory in Red Cavalry is captured in the contrast between his links to the first death and to the last. Reading the story cycle against the background of the diary, one can see this feature of the cycle's design in terms of the central dilemma for Babel' (bearing papers in the name of Kirill Vasilievich Liutov, the name he bequeathes to his narrator) in his dealings with the civilians of the heavily Jewish towns through which his division passed: whether or not to reveal that he was himself a Jew.