Now Flanders brings us close to another kind of alien - Travis Lee Stanhope, farm boy, scholar, and a U.S. volunteer among the strangely accented British soldiers of the Great War. He tells his story in eloquent, pungent letters to a brother at home, moving from the beauty of spring in 1916 France to the dank hell of the trenches - mud, rats, lice, gas, foulness, death. Stanhope is highly rated as a sniper but for a while drinks excessively to blur the horror. His kindly captain is another poetry-quoting misfit, despised by other officers for his Jewishness. One fellow soldier fits in all too well, being so fond of killing that he doesn't stop at Germans, and his murders have terrible repercussions for both Stanhope and the captain.