Remember that viri account of the Spanish Civil War, Men in Battle? That showed the author's scene of the dramatic, his power to etch vividly, in tight-lipped, modern manner. This is a novel, blunt and powerful, leftist in implications, a challenge to a social system that lets such things be. It is the story of Ed Sloan, whose neglected, poverty ridden youth was spent largely in reform schools, and who, at 33, after three years in the pen, hires out in up- state New York, determined to go straight. He falls in love and marries and then, first one and then the other is jobless, harried by debt. He turns back to the thing he knows- and is caught. A terrible picture of an inarticulate victim of a system, licked before he starts by economic circumstances. Intense, dramatic reading, but not for a wide public- and not for conservatives.