In several places in this first novel three of the major characters remark on the "unreality" of their circumstances. It would be temptingly brief just to pass off Michael Shaara's novel as not very real either but for the earnestness and concern he displays for the plight of his protagonist. Tom McClain is a 21-year-old ox-boxer whose attempt at suicide in Korea accidentally turns him into a hero. Disoriented by the fact of his "leftover life," he tries to find himself in a trip around the world (which is remarkable only in its spareness of information); in the eastern college town he returns to for a semester; and eventually, in the ring again as he achieves a reputation as a "finisher." Shaara's fight descriptions are good though it's a little difficult to believe in McClain's professional stature, based, as he is, in a small Vermont town. Although he kills a man in the ring it finally takes a losing bout and a subsequent mini-mystical experience in the Vermont woods to purge him of the hate and destructiveness which has been at the core of his life. One can appreciate Shaara's effort but the execution of his work is decidedly amateurish.