In one volume the American publisher has combined the English volume, entitled The Nine Lives of Bill Nelson, published there in 1942, with They Die With Their Boots Clean. Sergeant Bill is the perfect Guardsman, tough, warmly human and just. He was one of a group who volunteered for the Coldstream Guards with the outbreak of World War II. The men are alike only in dogged determination to protect England -- and are drawn in their individual unlikenesses. The author has sure magic in taking us through the training of raw recruits, showing the softness sloughed off by routine drill, with the discipline the first law, immaculateness of person and kit, the next. Each man's story is briefly and dramatically told, the episodes are vigorous, and Nelson holds the center of the stage, as he leads the battered troops over 63 miles of French territory to Dunkirk, under merciless strafing. There's a distinctively British flavor in slang and roughly masculine humor -- in passages of tenderly eloquent prose showing England at a critical point of history.