Thoughtful war-as-character-builder yarn that first appeared as a magazine serial in 1940, then as a hard-cover in 1948: neither as bad as Battlefield Earth and the appalling ten-volume Mission Earth might lead you to expect, nor as significant as Algis Budrys' sycophantic introduction would have you believe. After more than 30 years' warfare--atomic, biological, and conventional--Europe is devastated and depopulated; a few villages of peasants survive, deeply hidden, as do a number of tiny, ragtag armies consisting of, by this time, virtually unkillable survivor-types. One such army, nominally British, is lead by the Lieutenant, a military genius. He receives a summons from British Headquarters, a vast underground fortress commanded by politically correct staff officers. Seeing a trap, the Lieutenant arranges to gather supplies and equipment before complying, and later relies on his soldiers' instincts to challenge and defeat his superiors' idiotic and pointless ambitions. So, having accumulated a respectable army, the Lieutenant returns to England (soldiers have been forbidden to return, due to the threat of plague), easily defeats the incumbent regime of Communists, and rules wisely. Finally, the Lieutenant will defeat an attempt by technologically advanced, politically decadent America to occupy and colonize England. A chilling and lucid picture of the effects of incessant warfare. Again, there's more than a hint of the messiah complex that would eventually lead Hubbard to Dianetics and Scientology. Worth trying, too, for its influence upon subsequent soldier-sf yarns.