Of the vast number of books from the gulag, this one hits home with special force -- not just because it is written with an elegant clarity and modesty that belies deep thoughtfulness. When Hermann Field disappeared into Poland's terror machine in August 1949, he was as American as the next person and the newly named head of an architectural school in Cleveland. True, he was also the brother of Noel Field -- a communist sympathizer who had apparently served Soviet intelligence before being kidnapped and secretly handed over to the Hungarian secret police. The reason for their arrests does not matter. The absurdity of their fate serves merely as an essential counterpoint to the inquisitors' depraved but ritualized games. In turn, the games of resistance played by Field and his extraordinary cellmate over five years of internment give the book its special power.