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Vasil Bykov is the Belorussian author of a dozen novels based on his own wartime experience. He has been decorated for "Laureate of the Government of the USSR", and a number of his works have been made into plays and movies. "Pack of Wolves" was his first book to be translated into English. This engaging story is presented in a series of flash-backs revolving around a suspenseful life-or-death struggle. Levchuk, a one-armed veteran, arrives in an unfamiliar city, hoping to find someone he met thirty years ago. That brief meeting took place during the War. As Levchuk nervously awaits his reunion with a man he never got to know, he reminisces about a fateful two-day ordeal in 1943: ...Levchuk, a machine-gunner, has been disabled by a sniper's bullet. A stupid, useless wound, just because he had craved a smoke. So now he must leave the front, and worse, accompany an aging orderly, a gravely injured paratrooper, and a pregnant radio-operator to the medical unit. It will be a dangerous journey. To break out of German encirclement, the little band forges a swamp, wrestling their horse and cart through treacherous bogs. They narrowly elude a Nazi patrol, and lose one of their number when they are forced to run for their lives under fire. But their ordeal is only beginning. Klava goes into labor just as local Polizei (collaborators) strike their trail. A drying-shed in a burned-out village provides a shelter for Klava to deliver her son, until the refugees are set upon by their pursuers. Then begins their desperate battle, only now it is for the survival of the band's newest member. And ultimately Levchuk will have to make a life-changing decision... Like all of Bykov's stories, "Pack of Wolves" addresses the humanity of the characters as they struggle with inhumane circumstances.
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