Books: The Road to Hell

THE TRIBE THAT LOST ITS HEAD (598 pp.) — Nicholas Monsarrat — S/oane ($4.95).

There are things more cruel than the sea, British Novelist Nicholas Monsarrat has decided. Having established his rank as a topnotch fiction craftsman in The Cruel Sea (1951), Monsarrat has now made a troubled but effective literary landfall. His second big novel tells of a bloody skirmish in a sector of the no man's land that stretches between white and black along the length of Africa.

The setting is the fictional island of Pharamaul, a British protectorate, which recalls Azania, the island invented by Novelist Evelyn Waugh as a...

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