Darkness at Noon and Scum of the Earth put Koestler in the ranks of a writer for the discriminating audience. He received a fine critical reception and deserved a wider market. This, his new book, sustains his reputation on all counts. spare, compalling, eloquent, these pages were written in the ""fear and expectancy of death"" during imprisonment in Fascist Spain 1937, thus chronologically belonging before Scum of the Earth. An Austrian journalist, Koestler was sent to the Andalusian front as a reporter, was stationed at Malaga and lived through its last agony. An early book had resulted in his being ""wanted"" by the Fascists, and he was sentenced to death. This is the diary of 102 days in jail, a record which has both psychological and human value. One shares the progression of days spent in fear, in abstract speculation: the exaggeration of human needs, -- the importance of a book or a cigarette; fantasy and delusion; a hunger strike to get a transfer to the hospital; terror of the butcher's block which nummoned many of his fellow prisoners; and -- finally -- release. Dramatic, ironic, intense, with a certain graveyard humor.