cover image Messiah of Stockholm

Messiah of Stockholm

Cynthia Ozick. Alfred A. Knopf, $3.99 (141pp) ISBN 978-0-394-54701-5

With extraordinary polish and the attention to detail of a practiced firsthand observer, this excellent debut novel depicts one day during the North African campaign in World War II. Four men in a small tank, remnants of the British Second Armored Division destroyed by Rommel's elite troops, are caught behind enemy lines. Led by an expatriate American named Peter, an embittered veteran of the Spanish Civil War, the isolated tank team begins a treacherous retreat against seemingly impossible odds. Through a series of taut and utterly convincing battles and adventures, Borden graphically captures the feeling of the moment, with a precise sense of dialogue and an instinctive ability to dramatize the conflict. Permeated by a stinging irony, the work is distinguished by the dry, realistic voice of its protagonist, for, in Peter, Borden has created an unscrupulous soldier who has seen war in the least romantic of terms. (March 17)