Man against nature and man against man is the background for this account of survival which is laid in the Great Thirstland of the Kalahari desert in Southwest Africa. Alive after the crash of a private plane on an unrecorded flight are:- Sturdevant, the pilot and a responsible and educated Boer; Grimmelman, a German who had known fighting in Africa in 1904; Jefferson Smith, the youngest and an American Negro, with learning and money; Mike Bain, an engineer, American also, and with too much knocking around, on the skids; O'Brien, another American and dedicated to hunting and the theory of man's superiority; Mrs. Grace Monckton, from Rhodesia and Nigeria and divorced. The six make their way from the wreckage, over wastelands, to the black mountains and settle into an adjustment of fighting for, seizing and defending their spare supplies, from the baboons which become O'Brien's particular enemies and targets. Sturdevant leaves to try to find a way to civilization and lives through trials of endurance. O'Brien, intent only on his survival, lures Dain, Smith and Grimmelman away from the small oasis, and is the means of Grimmelman's death, Smith's rehabilitation through a band of pygmies, and Bain's redemption through his refusal to succumb to O'Brien's domination. Bain's return sparks Grace's cooperation and accomplishes the imprisonment of O'Brien, but the floods, more than answering their need of water, free O'Brien and his threat is gone when the rescue that Sturdevant has finally effected arrives. O'Brien is left alone, ready to rule and conquer the baboons by the intelligence that has proved itself master of primitive -- but not civilized --living. This has won the first of the $10,000 Putnam Awards and it is an on-the-line adventure story which has the touchstone of conscience and morality -- in which a purity of time and space is sullied by the failure of people -- as people. Adding up to entertainment with a think spot.