A small masterpiece with a vast canvas - three major wars of the twentieth century, no less - and a strong emotional charge, this is a taut, moving novel about old men, young men and war, about memory and imagination and the gap between. ld man MacIver, military historian and one-time centre for Scotland's rugby team ('quite quick in his day'), recently widowed, has holed up in his holiday home. He makes rules to 'stop the rot', as he and his house crumble away - what he must burn, when he should eat, how to write something everyday- Gradually a strange and gripping parallel tale is born, of men in the trenches of the Great War (Sergeant Braddis, king of No-Man's-Land, with his pincer-like nails; Private Callum, the quietly subversive artist; Lieutenant Simon Dodds, decent and unremarkable; and salt-of-the-earth Private Charlie Alston, caught up in a story of inhumanity and betrayal); while MacIver recalls, too, his own experiences in WWII, and tries not to think about the later war which took his son away. He tries to make sense of his marriage, his own anger and innate violence, matching these against the turbulent century through which he has lived. It's winter and he is dyi
-Born in China of British parents, educated at Oxford, Peter Pouncey is a classicist and academic who moved to the US in the 1960s and is now President Emeritus of Amherst College. This is his first novel.