The third novel in the Reads to Freedom trilogy -- a sustained climax in a tragic drama of blood and ashes. The novel opens with the fall of France in 1940 and the rootless, corrosive bitterness of Gomez, returned from defeat in Spain to New York and its suffocating indifference. The stage set in defeat and aridity, the characters which appeared in the earlier novels become caught up in the tragedy of the ignominious end of France- all seek self-justification, escape or annihilation. Mathieu, adrift in the dispersed army approaches with horrid fascination the compulsion to assume responsibility for defeat, finally choosing death in action; Boris with ""none of the vocations necessary for living"", leaves the arms of his dying mistress to fight again for England; Daniel, the homosexual, society-sick, plunges into the violence of desire; Brunet the Communist, finds that one set of ideals match another in futility when faced with men eaten by shame, and shorn of love and respect; and Schneider, who will not rise above or fall below defeat, but decide to ""go on living degradation"". An heroic drama of men sunken in guilt and shame- (to existentialist Sartre the antithesis of life), of the ones who retain their moral convictions, and of those who compromise or are folded into the rotting wings of the ""angels of extermination"". A powerful and compelling book and a grim reminder. Predictable Sartre sales.