Description: So why is "The Kindly Ones" worth reading? Quite simply, it's the sheer virtuosity of Littell's writing, which shines through in Charlotte Mandel's English translation, and does not falter even in rendering the most technically difficult and morally uncomfortable tableaus. His inventiveness jolts crackling energy into familiar history--an absolutely startling 87-page dive into the Battle of Stalingrad at the center of the novel being only one outstanding example. The awful grandeur of the subject, the breadth and depth of the author's historical research, the ease with which he shifts from naturalism to surrealism and allegory to farce, his perfect ear for dialogue in what is not only a foreign language but a completely alien way of thinking, the fearlessness with which he portrays the repellent--all of these are marks of a monumental achievement. If literary power is a function of ambition multiplied by ability, "The Kindly Ones" is simply off the charts.