This is one of three novels- all by Frenchmen- of the season (Jean Hougron's Blaze of the Sun- Farrar, Straus, and Pierre Boulle's The Bridge on the River Kwai- Vanguard) to campfollow to the latest battleground, Indochina, where the conflict between profit and idealism is again engaged. Hardy, who like Malraux, is most at home in the midst of death and revolution, writes also with a sense of mission. Here, the revolution which germinated in ""spiritual decomposition"" is in the hands of a mongrel group of doctrinaires, opportunists, derelicts; Tah, the political commissar whose hatred of all whites enables him to destroy with indifference; Serkov, a Lithuanian killer whose personal history of brutality began in his childhood; Torlet, who is running arms to the Viet but had an earlier record of betrayal in Spain. Jean Kernez is the central figure, a seasoned professional in this business of war, now in Indochina to save his brother- Dom Angelico- the Abbot of a pillaged monastery, and in so doing to redeem himself. Posing as a member of the Viet, but never escaping the suspicion of Tah and Serkov, Jean reaches Don Angelico but is ordered to shoot him, and when he is himself killed, it is in the knowledge that his brother will brand him as a traitor....There's an ironic, incisive character to much of this which heightens the dramatic realism here.