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Legion of the Damned (Cassell Military Paperbacks) Mass Market Paperback – 14 Aug 2003

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New Ed edition (14 Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304366315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304366316
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 10.8 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in 1917 in Fredensborg, Denmark, Sven Hassel joined the merchant navy at the age of 14. He did his compulsory year's military service in the Danish forces in 1936 and then, facing unemployment, joined the German army. He served throughout World War II on all fronts except North Africa. When the war ended in 1945 he was transferred between Russian, American and French prison camps, and upon returning to Denmark, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for treason. He began writing Legion of the Damned during his time as a prisoner of war. His fourteen World War II books, which draw on his own encounters and experiences as a soldier, have sold over 53 million copies worldwide and have been published in more than 50 countries. He peacefully passed away in Barcelona in 2012, where he had resided since 1964.

Product Description

Book Description

Sven Hassel's iconic war novel about the Russian Front.

About the Author

Born in 1917 in Fredensborg, Denmark, Sven Hassel joined the merchant navy at the age of 14. He did his compulsory year's military service in the Danish forces in 1936 and then, facing unemployment, joined the German army. He served throughout World War II on all fronts except North Africa. When the war ended in 1945 he was transferred between Russian, American and French prison camps, and upon returning to Denmark, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for treason. He began writing Legion of the Damned during his time as a prisoner of war. His fourteen World War II books, which draw on his own encounters and experiences as a soldier, have sold over 53 million copies worldwide and have been published in more than 50 countries. He peacefully passed away in Barcelona in 2012, where he had resided since 1964.

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The previous day the big sapper had been before the court-martial and received a sentence of eight years' hard labour. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Tony Roberts on 5 Sept. 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
As a teenager I read virtually all Sven Hassel's novels and enjoyed them as good old war stories. But over the years my perception of things, as many of us find, changed and I recently wanted to re-read those books, so bought Legion of the Damned and went through the story once more, but with an extra 30 years of life behind me.

My recall of the sadness of it all was not misplaced. This story ultimately is a tragedy; not merely of the loss of many of the close friends and comrades of Sven as he struggles to retain some humanity throughout the madness of what he experienced, but also of the futility and waste of societies, human life and animals.

In many ways Legion is a two-parter. The first part concerns the processing through heartless camps designed to slaughter opponents of the fascist system, or even those unfortunate to evoke the wrath, envy or other slight, imagined or real, of those running the fascist apparatus. Hassel is a deserter who is caught and ends up in an 'extermination camp',to quote the commandant. He survives only to be put into a penal regiment, a force made up of criminals and outcasts, expendable individuals not wanted in the Nazi society.

Its almost impossible to comprehend the brutality displayed within these pages, almost a fictional scene its that alien to our ways and morals. But it happened. And as a social history it should never be forgotten lest it occurs again. Hassel's description of the treatment he and others received is not gratuitous or indifferent of prose - he witnessed and experienced it and this comes through the pages. It can only have come from the pen of someone who did.

Then the story switches to life in the penal regiment.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Rushman2112 on 23 Aug. 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read these books almost 30 years ago in secondary school, and have always enjoyed the exploits of Porta, The Old Man, Heide, The Legionnaire and Sven as they rampaged and drank across the European theatre.
Over the years my collection has shrunk to just 3 tattered volumes - TBRTD, AG and MC - from the 1978 or 1979 Corgi editions, so I was very happy to see a reprint of 4 of the best, but who on earth commissioned the cover designs??
The author's name has the 'ss' from the middle of his name as an SS collar patch superimposed over the rest of his name.
As any fule kno, the 27th Tank Regiment hated the Nazis and their SS henchmen, and I can't believe the publisher let such an elementary error through.
The book itself? A great read, probably based most on fact of all his books, showing the horrors of war and the value of comrades in arms in extremis.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H. T. Davies VINE VOICE on 14 Oct. 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As already mentioned this is probably the most factual of his books (together with Comrades of War and Wheels of Terror)as we follow Sven from court room to penal camp to the Eastern Front and meet most of the characters who will remain with us in the other books. I find it a bit irritating that the Old Man is called the Old 'Un in this one (like Tiny being Little John in March Batallion and Liquidate Paris) but that's just me.

There is little of the slapstick humour of later books and the tone remains fairly sombre throughout but the sheer wretchedness of the war in the East and the efforts of men to remain human in inhuman surroundings comes across well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Colin Ellis on 13 Feb. 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sven Hassel tells this story from his own experiences in this account of life as a member of a penal battalion is certainly not for the faint hearted. A brutal account of life on the 'other' side. A must read for all those interested in getting an understanding of what serving in the German Army was like. Moving, shocking and mesmerising.

I first read this book 20 years ago and have just bought a new copy to read it again such is its impact.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 May 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a great book, that?s definitely not for the faint hearted. Hassel once again proves that he is a master teller of WWII stories with his unique twist of telling the story from the point of view of a foreigner severing in the Werhmacht. Tiny & the rest of the gang have a great sense of humor which keeps the book light hearted even when describing some of the more gruesome aspects of war.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Nov. 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book tells the tale of Sven Hassel a soldier caught by the dreaded SS for desertion. He and his girlfriend Ursula are tried and sentenced to punishment camps designed for Germans where their conditions compare to concentration camps.
Sven who is witness to crimes against humanity again and again, when the years of punishisment goes by, he is tortured again by being put into a Penal battalion being retrained as a German soldier.
The book gives gory details of so many emotions from the sadness of losing his close friends or to the sometimes-humorous ordeals he goes through. With his close friends and a cat called Stalin dressed like an officer, he survives showing that war is not as glamorous as the nazi war machine spews into the peoples lives.
This book is amazing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By giles lewis on 19 Feb. 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The first in the accalimed series of semi-autobiographical accounts of Sven's experiences in the German Army during World War II. Did Sven actually do all the things the character Sven does in this book? Probably irrelevant as the story has an air of reality about it that makes it such a good read. God they had it tough in those days and the love affairs couldn't be more emotionally demanding if you were actually living them out yourself!
Sven now lives in Denmark and is a very old man. Whatever you think, he is a hero of mine who fired my imagination as a teenager...Oh my God!
If you liked this book I can also recommend "All quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque.The generation of young men who lived,fought and often died in the two World Wars are all truly heroes no matter on which side they were on!
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