This novel is important only because of the documentary evidence it assembles around the issue of Verdun. The fiction is didactic without any believable characterization. However, Romain's intense passion to reveal all the elements that went into the catastrophe of Verdun and what it tells of French history and culture presents us with detailed and rich historical information. The novel is negligible; the history is important and to understand Verdun is to understand why in 1940 for many French fighting the Germans once again was too traumatic to allow. For a brilliant analysis and social reflection on Verdun in English read Ian Ousby's "The Road to Verdun."