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affter 14 books ("The Commisary" being the last and the worst! )
on 8 July 2015
"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. Wounded eight times, he ended the war in a Russian prison camp. He wrote LEGION OF THE DAMNED while being transferred between American, British and Danish prisons before making a new life for himself in Spain."
Is this true? How much time will people keep believing this? Anyway, it almost does not matter, because Hassel's books are sheer entertainment, if you can get by the gory situations, the almost complete lack of chronologyand lead characters as despicable as the "villains". But that's the "magic" of it: everybody in Sven's books are villains, be them Allied personnel, civilians, German. Not one single decision is made out of personal interest or the need to survive. Even so, once you are hooked by his books, you can't stop following Porta, Tiny, Old Man, Barcelona, The Legionnaire, Heide, Sven, Gregor Martin and the myriad other characters (many of them simply vanishing or appearing from book to book.
So, affter 14 books ("The Commisary" being the last and the worst!), he suddenly stopped writing. The royalties must be enough for him to earn a good living.
If any proof was still needed that his past a verteran soldier who fought in all the fronts is a hoax, llok no further thatn "Legion of the Damned". It's a blatant (I mean, really blatant) rip-off of the first world war classic by Erich Maria Remarque, "ALL QUIET ON WESTERN FRONT". Everything is designed to be the same, the pace, the dying of one by one of Sven's friend. Also, it's a history clearly with beginning and an ending. There was no serie sin sight.
But, success probably was great, and, all of a sudden, his pals come back to life in the next books! So, in addition to Old Man, Porta, Steiger, there comes Heide, Tiny, Barcelona. Things change so much in the next books (in writing style as well as stories) that they even seem to be written by different people. In a general manner, I think that the more recent books were worst than the first ones (my favorite is "Comrades of War", the third one).
So, enjoy "Legion of the Damned" by what it is: a World War Two novel, marketed as a World War II biography...