This is a short first novel by a young Russian, who although raised completely under Communism, recognized a lack of freedom there and escaped to France. There, according to the introduction by Joseph Kessel, he has been shocked as much by the shortcomings of democracy. The novel has nothing to do with any of this, but is instead an examination of Anton Sviriagin, an agronomist, who collaborated with the Germans during World War II because of his almost obsessive love of the land. After the war he goes with his wife (who is unaware of his treachery) to the far North to build his own farmstead away from civilization and to raise a large family in the wilderness. But both the weakness of character which led him to betrayal in the first p and his avenging, Party member brother find him out, and the book ends in a welter of blood. It is an uneven and Jumpy book, trying, presumably, to examine the Russian character and the Russian sense of fate and justice. But Anton understands himself very little and the reader understands him only a little more. His story is therefore one of those fatalistic tragedies which goes on and on to its dreadful end. Honor and morality are satisfied, but the reader is not because he never was made to care in the first place.