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Each of the eight stories in this volume grips the reader from the first line. Each conveys the tension and intensity of feeling in the founding period of Israel, a brand-new state with an age-old history. Some are love stories, more are hate stories, and frequently the two urges intertwine. The clashes between nomad herders and sedentary settlers, between raiders and counterraiders reverberate through the tales: "Tonight a nest of murderers will be wiped from the face of the earth." Scores are evened throughout. Not all is grim, however. There is humor and irony, that special touch of irreverence which is the hallmark of Oz's intelligence. Fools abound next to heroes, and even heroes are shown up as fools. The land, with its suffocating dust and blazing heat, blasted by the khamsin, the desert wind, becomes an active participant in human fates. Israel's physical and emotional climate powerfully permeates the entire book. Written in the sixties, these stories were a major achievement by a young writer and remain a testament to Oz's mastery of substance and form.