The year is 1940 or '41, the place is Cairo and the surrounding desert. Rommel is on the march, and the British are trying to decide whether to attack or retreat. This slim "slice o' life," written only a year or two after the scenario it evokes, shows what it was like to be in the British army -- from the general to the privates, from a Lieutenant whose father's passing has just made him a lord to a venal quartermaster -- as panic rises and the battle commences. The utterly omniscient narration moves from one consciousness to the next, including Italian and German generals, as men prepare to face war and death. Kersh impressively recreates the tortuous march through the desert, the dreamlike death of an aviator, various battlefield fatalities sudden and slow, and countless other details.
This report prepared by David Loftus