The author of Retreat From Rostov, this time presents another full, detailed panorama of the war in China...in the 28 days of the siege of Changsha, the center of the rice fields. From the irreconciable scholar, whose son has been seduced by white ways, the blind beggar and his sister, the faithful missionary and his dependable nurse, the money mad Flying Tiger, the renegade doctor, to the Chinese soldiers and their superiors, the Japanese men and officers, this follows the waves of battle, the danger of Japanese victory, the success of Chinese strategy in routing the Japs with high mortality. All the individual backgrounds are filled in, their lives -- and deaths -- during the period chronicled, but they are but counter-themes to the invincibility of China and her people, and the possibility of new and old blending. A long, close-patterned mosaic that in spite of a huge gallery of characters does hold reader interest. For a boy that has never been there -- he can do an amazing job of country, people and events.