Translated from the German this is a recollection of certain events which occurred ten years previously at the close of the last war. The narrator has returned by chance to the small town and the bridge which he and his friends were to hold against the advancing Americans. Germany was obviously losing the war and had begun desperately putting old men and boys into the uniforms of the dead. Albert Mutz and his six companions were conscripted out of their classrooms, trained to take part in more deadly games and assigned to defend the bridge though it was thought that the measure was only a delaying action. The novel consists of flashbacks, accounts of the boys' short histories, demonstrating their differences, their ordinariness, and the ironies of fate which led them to the place where eventually they would die. Though all around them men are deserting, the boys, scarcely aware of their own reasons, determine to hold the bridge at all costs: it has become an inexorable symbol. Their decision of course is as meaningless as the fact that just one of them should survive and Mutz's return to the scene years later offers no further enlightenment. It's a carefully constructed novel, more universal in theme than the post war complaints of Germany's angry young men that have been translated here. Unfortunately this translation into Americanisms lessens the impact of the book.