The final offensives of the Second World War – Arnhem, the Rhine crossing and the invasion of Germany – provide war-shattered settings for John Prebble’s novel, The Edge of Darkness. In this, the most intimately experience of all his books, he records the feelings and reactions (seldom heroic) of five very different members of a front-line searchlight troop.
But victory and vengeance breed anti-climax. In the rubble of post-war Hamburg, with its currency of cigarettes and its sinister black market, and in the brief, flickering affair between Ted Jones and a tragic German widow John Prebble faithfully portrays Germany in defeat.
Like Culloden, his famous account of the Forty-five, The Edge of Darkness is neither cheerful nor glorious. It is a grim but just epitaph on war.