I'd never heard of Shaw before reading this. To use the tired phrase, it is a real page turner. It is an engrossing tale of 3 central characters in 2 armies, and their lives in the lead up to WWII. But it is really a psychological study of many many characters. Shaw uses the devise of armies to put many people from many backgrounds into contact, and allows us to view their histories, philosophies, strengths, flaws. It is almost like a long string of short stories interspersed with a continuous narrative, something like Steinbeck's Cannery Row, but without the self-conscious devise. A really great read.
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