At first approach, this seems to be a strangely involved story for Hans Fallada to have written. But as it gets under way, the pieces fall into place, the picture takes shape, and out of a ultitude of episodes and a large cast of characters, the picture of post-war Germany, during the terror of the inflation period, comes into reality, as in almost no other book we have had. The story gradually focusses on Pagel, disowned son of a rich mother, a youth whose passion for gambling has been his undoing, and the waif of the streets, Petra, who has chosen him as her own. Only when she is arrested for vagrancy, after he has sold the clothes off her back, does he realize that he wants security. He takes one last great gamble -- wins all and loses all; then chance throws him into a new way of life on a farm, and we see the facet of agricultural Germany, eaten by petty jealousy, plotting of political agents, vice, a sense of unreality. A human document -- and a moving picture of a Germany gone mad.