Spare, vivid, unique, this war novel by a Greek-American hides much substance and bitterness under a deceptively simple prose. It is December, 1940, and a company of Greek soldiers is unexpectedly halted in a small, snowbound village where, for a brief moment, they become civilians again. The exhausted men loaf; the officers, billeted with the hospitable Popka family, fuss over manners and parties and pursue the Popka's gentle, beautiful daughter- Stefania. Only the young Lieutenant tries to maintain discipline, fights his growing love for Stefania, and observes with a terrible, rational detachment his own emotions and past. The town bustles with preparations for Christmas, but on the , the battalion is ordered to advance. Stefania, torn by parting, and by her instinctive feminine need to comfort and continue life, offers herself to the Lieutenant. He refuses, rejecting life in a final terrible indictment, and having made his protest, goes off to die... The book's brilliant implications and characters are remarkably counterpointed by the physical vitality of the scene- the steaming Greek meals, the cold snow. It has much to offer the more selective reader.