An unusual combination of technical precision and philosophic questioning effects this arresting novel about human beings involved in war, as experienced by young Gil Freeman, a field artillery Lieutenant who arrives in Italy with the American Fifth Army during World War II. Unlike many of his fellow American soldiers, Freeman responds immediately to the defeated Italians as individual human beings and is deeply moved by their unique and vital celebration of love and life. Shortly before going to the front, Freeman shares a brief but demanding love relationship with a 22-year-old Italian woman whose husband had been hanged before her eyes by the Germans. Still, Freeman goes to the front as a soldier who sees war as offering a meaningful experience in brotherhood to its participants. Disillusionment grows and deepens as Freeman works with an isolated battalion of long-range guns, which turns out to be one of many impersonal components in a kind of giant, corporate war machine. The one outstanding individual in Freeman's battalion is destroyed by his own sensitivity and the fears and inadequacies of the men around him; he is finally shot by one of his fellow American soldiers. Freeman is eventually sent on a special mission of destruction; the army rewards his success with a medal of honour while the hero himself suffers a complete breakdown. Freeman's subsequent re-entrance into a world of people who willingly live and feel is presented by the author with great compassion in an unsentimental and cogent climax. Though not wholly polished and even throughout, Goodman's style is powerful, sensitive, and incisive. This is an exciting and provocative addition to contemporary, avant garde American literature; Goodman, an author definitely worth watching.