A novel which has been highly successful in Germany, where it first appeared, is a cynical transcription of life within the Wehrmacht as experienced by Victor Velten. But it is also a sharp reminder that while Germany lost the war- it was by no means defeated. Velten, a man of few scruples or convictions, is at all times a spectator and through a carefully cultivated sauve qu put approach- manages to skin through the war years. As an interpreter, Velten moves on with the troops to Paris where he leads a double life and spends time with Corinne, once his mistress. During an evening (through her) with members of the Resistance, he becomes aware of the limitations of brute force; he also becomes ""ideologically suspect"" so that when Corinne is later arrested, he enlists as a private to clear himself. His second phase of war activity is on the Eastern front and he survives, spiritually as well as physically untouched, the whole debacle of the retreat through Poland, the collapse, and finally capture by the English.... Always a ""wanderer on the periphery of decision"", Velten's unconcern -- and disassociation- are qualities which cannot arouse much feeling. But this spectacle of Germany at war, of the disintegration phenomenon, with its attendant corruption and straggling indifference, is observed with fidelity and occasional power.