**Graeber had been born during World War, I; grown up during the misery of the inflation and the burgeoning of the New Germany of Hitler, had gone to one front after another in the surge of early victories of World War II -- and had awakened to the adult misery of comprehension during the retreat in Russia. But the full realization of the depths to which Germany's masters had descended came home to him only when he went back on furlough, after two years, to a bombed city, the desolation of blasted hopes, the sharp contrasts between the luxury and arrogant posturing of those in the seat of power- and the people who cadged a precarious existence among the rubble, terrified to voice a protest, and taking out their disillusionment in petty cruelties against one another. Then- against this hopeless emptiness- Graeber falls in love with Elizabeth, whose father is in a concentration camp, and the brief flowering of their the love, the realization that there was something to live for and that fear came only when someone else mattered, gives meaning to the furlough that had started with despair. Their parting- holding fast to hope- had a poignance in its very sparseness of detail. And the irony of Graeber's end, victim of the moment when his better self prevailed, writes finis to a novel that does for World War II and the German soldier, what All Quiet on the Western Front did for the World War I. Remarque's best book- profoundly moving without every slopping over into sentimentality ; an angry book, accepting the responsibility of the canker at the heart of Germany for Germans at all levels; at times an ugly and at times a beautiful book, penetrating the surface of attitudes and acceptances, of ""man's inhumanity to man"", and of the spark that occasionally lights the darkest corners.