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Publisher's Summary

When Guy Sajer joins the infantry full of ideals in the summer of 1942, the German army is enjoying unparalleled success in Russia. However, he quickly finds that for the foot soldier the glory of military success hides a much harsher reality of hunger, fatigue, and constant deprivation. Posted to the elite Grosse Deutschland division, with its sadistic instructors who shoot down those who fail to make the grade, he enters a violent and remorseless world where all youthful hope is gradually ground down, and all that matters is the brute will to survive. As the biting cold of the Russian winter sets in and the tide begins to turn against the Germans, life becomes an endless round of pounding artillery attacks and vicious combat against a relentless and merciless Red Army.
Sajer's perspective as a German foot soldier makes The Forgotten Soldier a unique war memoir, the book that the Christian Science Monitor said "may well be the book about World War II which has been so long awaited". A work of stunning force, this is an unforgettable reminder of the horrors of war.
©1967 Editions Robert Laffont; translation copyright 1971 by Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. (P)2017 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

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By Gillian on 03-31-17

A Beautifully Written Heartrending Tragedy

This is one of the most beautifully written, most vivid and horrific accounts of war I've read/listened to in a long time. It's absolutely amazing.
It was so amazing in fact, that I Googled it: and tho' I found that there were a few inaccuracies, it is true, it was lived. Guy Sajer himself says that it's not meant to be a strategic/chronological account but is instead meant as an emotional rendering of what he experienced.
And emotional it is. It starts with him as an optimistic young soldier fighting for the Germans even tho' he's half French (from what I Googled, it is suggested that he did it because he felt the Germans were Europe's best hope to save countries from Bolshevism), goes through testing as a member of an auxiliary unit, and then the greatest part of it is flat-out war and chaos.
There is smoke, fire, death all around him. Struggling innocents, struggling participants. I'd just finished listening to "Enemy at the Gates", about Stalingrad, and here in "The Forgotten Soldier" there was a greater accounting of it at the costs of Germany. But there is so much more: more battles, more to be won and lost, and so much hunger and privation.
I have never suffered so much alongside another person as I did with this book, it's so humane.
It's not just warfare that's soooo vividly portrayed; this is just a well, well-written book. Nature, comradeship, fear are written elegantly, with brilliant prose, and Derek Perkins delivers it flawlessly, humanely.
This is a credit well-spent, 21 1/2 hours I wouldn't trade for the world.

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62 of 67 people found this review helpful

By Theodore on 04-13-17

an amazing book

Story of survival as a German soldier in Ww2 Soviet Union. You don't usually think of them as human, with human emotions. They were, and it is a very touching story. At the end, the symptoms he suffers are clearly post traumatic stress disorders. An amazing story of survival.

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11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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