There's a sense of overwhelming authenticity in this record of an unending day of combat. The setting is Normandy- before the taking of St. -Lo -- the hedgerow skirmishes for Normandy. The cast is the platoon of men led by Paul Roth, a platoon that has been in line for fifty eight days, dirty, hungry, incredibly tired, many at the breaking point. But there is always that one more reserve of strength and courage to go on. This is no story of conscious heroes; there's not an unusual man in the lot. They have no particular stake in this war they are fighting. They crab and gripe and show small respect for their superiors at any level. But they go ahead. And they perform miracles and small acts of heroism. And the reader shares every step of the grueling advance, the terrors, the angers, the frustrations, the fatigue, the sense of futility. Not since I read Brown's Walk in the Sun have I felt so caught up in the reality of experience at the front- and somehow this seems more basically real than that, in retrospect. What sordidness there is seems integral to the whole; there is none of the introverted filth of The Naked and the Dead. It hasn't the scope -- the impact of that book, perhaps, but what Van Van Praag attempts, he succeeds wholly in doing. His book has a grand simplicity, the compassion of understanding, the achievement of portraying (as does Bill Mauldin) the infantryman. Ernie Pyle would have liked this book.