It's often said that war involves long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Life and Fate is journalistic in style and never had a chance to be edited. Chapter after chapter gives us the day-to-day experience of life on the frontlines of totalitarianism. As the reader slowly gets to know the characters, it almost becomes comforting. But every 50 pages or so there'll be a passage that's utterly heartbreaking.