For eight years, Gilboa, a Polish Zionist suspected by the Soviets of ""counter-revolutionary activity,"" was shunted from one prison to another, subjected to solitary, lies, and interminable interrogations. The treatment was Koestlerian: ""You are entirely in the interrogator's hands and everything is predestined and lost."" Yet Gilboa's response--like his book--was stubborn but good-humored. When the vague charges against him were enlarged to include spying: ""I could not refrain from smiling, 'That's all I need.'"" The NKVD interrogator, Pichugin, of course, was not amused. He portrays Pichugin as a rigorous specialist in human destruction but one not without good points--logic, fear occasional humor. The account of their interchanges makes up most of the book. which also includes Gilboa's eventual release, return to Poland and emigration to Israel. Unlike most survivors' reminiscences, Gilboa's book is not bitter. Insight supplants the expected rancor. Gilboa puts a nightmare in perspective--certainly a sizable achievement.