When Erskine Caldwell returned in 1941 from a visit to the war-torn USSR, he wrote this gripping adventure set in occupied Byelorussia. The main protagonist is Sergei, a young tractor-driver who joins the Partisan band of the charismatic guerrilla leader Pavlenko. Separated from his wife Natasha while escaping an encirclement, Sergei worries unceasingly about her safety while continuing to carry out raids against the invaders. He and his daring comrades, with the support of the Red Army, wreck trains, ambush trucks, and pick off sentries. Tragically, successful action often reaps swift retaliation from the Hitlerites, who slaughter and burn entire villages, and kidnap young women to frontline brothels.
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