A World War I soldier is torn between his duty, his country, and his conscience in this work of “classic war fiction” (Books Monthly).
When the First World War broke out, Apostol Bologa left his home in Romania and joined the Austro-Hungarian army with grand visions of battle, glory, and honor. Instead, the young officer finds himself serving on a near-perfunctory tribunal that sentences deserters and other reprobates to hanging in a small dark forest just behind the Eastern Front.
At first Bologa performs his duties with staunch military bearing, but the weight of the dead slowly begins to toll on his mind and spirit. For as his fellow soldiers are being cut down by the thousands on the battlefields, his only contribution to the effort is killing men one by one for reasons that grow ever more foreign and dubious—until he finds himself lost in the very forest of the dead he helped grow . . . with little hope for his own salvation.