After the difficult reading experience of The Reprieve this is a more conventional style sticking with a character for a chapter, the diary date that Sartre uses, and giving them the room to think that was absent in the rush to war that was in the second book.
Things start in an odd position because you know that at the end of The Reprieve Sartre has a choice to start Iron in the Soul either just before the Nazi attack on France, which might have been tempting for tension. However he starts not in France but New York and starts with Paris having fallen. That’s why you know this is going to be an interesting read because from page one none of the easy options have been taken.
Bullet points between pages 1 – 57
* The story starts with Gomez in New York looking for a break from the heat and the struggle to get money but he seems to be being looked after and he is offered a job as an art critics based on his experience as a painter
* Gomez hears that Paris has fallen but because of his experience in the Spanish Civil War he feels no sympathy and even when he sits down and has a drink with a French man in a bar he still feels nothing
* Meanwhile Sarah his wife and son Pablo are struggling to escape from the Germans and are mixed up with other refugees and the picture that is painted of life in France is incredibly hard
* Then the time moves on and the story picks up with Mathieu with seven other troops lying in a field waiting to find out where they are going next in the retreat from the oncoming enemy
* Mathieu and his colleagues sum up the sense of the frustration in the defeat with some not caring, others regretting the death of their troops and all worried about what will happen next to them