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The searing novel of a Nazi death camp, based on dozens of eyewitness accounts. 509 is a political prisoner in a German concentration camp. For ten years, he has persevered in the most hellish conditions. Deathly weak, he still has his wits about him and he senses that the end of the war is near. If he and the other living corpses in his barracks can hold on for liberation--or force their own--then their suffering will not have been in vain.
Now the SS who run the camp are ratcheting up the terror. Their expectations are jaded and their defenses are down. It is possible that the courageous, yet terribly weak prisoners have just enough left in them to resist. If they die fighting, they will die on their own terms, cheating the Nazis out of their devil's contract.
"A great writer . . . He is a craftsman of unquestionably first rank, a man who can bend his language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure."
--The New York Times Book Review