Originally published in French by Francois Maspero of Paris in 1981, this story begins on 20 August 1939, during the grape-harvest, in the village of Aigues-Vives (Gard). It ends on 12 May 1945 at 1am, in the same place, when Folcher gets out of a lorry in the square. In the meantime, ten disparate notebooks have been filled. Called up into the 12th Zouaves, Gustave Folcher, a gardener by profession, lived all through the war as a private soldier, a simple man of the people, but a peerless chronicler. He serves, he observes, he records.