- Paperback: 508 pages
- Publisher: Potomac Books (October 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1574882864
- ISBN-13: 978-1574882865
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 813 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Forgotten Soldier Paperback – October 1, 2001
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About the Author
Guy Sajer served in Germany's Gross Deutschland Division during World War II.
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Sajer obviously fought for the Nazi's on the Eastern Front during WWII. That said, there's nary a peep of ideology in the book, either pro-Nazi or anti-communist. This is really about one man's experiences, not about what caused the war, or even what he believed when he wrote the book.
The experiences themselves are stunning - frightening, but stunning. He starts off with some pretty brutal details about basic training as a young man/child - Sajer couldn't pass the test to be in the Luftwaffe, so he ended up in the infantry, first driving a truck, later as a member of the renowned Gross Deutschland division, seeing action in many of the most important battles of the Eastern Front.
Sajer himself said he didn't write this book so that it could be cited by historians - the book is about experiences. And like few other authors, Sajer conveys those experiences - hunger, fatigue, hope, fear, sadness, cold. Anyone who believes that war is a glorious experience will be sadly disappointed - Sajer expends no effort to make himself into a hero, and indeed, while Sajer loves some of his comrades-in-arms, the book overall is devoid of positive energy.
I haven't read All Quiet on the Western Front in a number of years, but honestly, I can't imagine it surpassing this book.
There have been some criticisms of this book by reviewers who maintain it is made up. Notably, some of the critics have recanted after corresponding with Sajer, and frankly, I don't know how anyone who reads this book could imagine that it is not true.
This book is an absolute must read. No doubt. Buy it now.
Sajer was a mid-war French recruit who ended up a transportation soldier in the German Army and was later taken into the GrossDeutschland Infantry Division. His experience of the war was essentially, the long retreat of the Germans from the East Front. There is certainly plenty of description of the action. The fighting. The chaos. The fear. The misery .The misery of the environment (Russian winters!). But it is the thread of humanity that Sajer clings to which really ties it all together. His girlfriend whom he never saw again. His friends who fought alongside him.
You get to the end of the book and are left with a vast emptiness that is the bleak reality of what war does to a human being. There is all kinds of misery, horror, and suffering, but this is the horror and suffering of this particular man, who is able to share it in poignant words that leave you with the faintest understanding of what it was like and a vast well of sympathy and hope that a man broken and wrecked by war could have some bit of life left to live. No one can understand who hasn’t been through it but Sajer does a very good job of giving us as much of a taste of the horror of war as we could possibly absorb while sitting in the comfort of our homes and reading about it.
You may pick up this book to read it for a first hand account of some “action” or “adventure” but you’ll put it down with a firsthand hope for peace for a man whose humanity was pressed and tested like most people will never know.