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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Soldier - not to be forgotten.
If like me you are a little nervous picking up books about war and think that they may only glorify the great scale of battles, victories and tactics then I would recommend the Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer. This book is a first person account of life on the eastern front from the perspective of a young, naive man, which simultaneously depicts the fall of nazi Germany...
Published on 26 Dec. 2003 by Adam

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good story, but...
This book wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be--a detailed account of a soldier's participation in the battle of Stalingrad. So, maybe that was my fault. The book reads a lot like "All Quiet on the Western Front", and Sajer does a good job, IMO, of describing the daily life of a "grunt". His accounts square with others that I have...
Published on 6 April 1999


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Hole!, 23 Sept. 2013
There is some controversy over the authenticity of this book but whether it is a genuine autobiography, a fictionalised memoir or an out-and-out novel it's still one of the best books I've ever read. Full stop.

The author was born in Alsace of a German mother and French father and was drafted into the German armed forces. Unfortunately the exact hows and whys of this aren't explained.

Originally he hoped to fly JU87 dive-bombers but after failing to make the grade was sent to a supply battalion on the Eastern Front and quickly volunteered for front-line service in the Gross Deutschland Division. Sadly this was around the time that things were going wrong.

This is no "Boy's Own" account of daring do but a sorry tale of starving, exhausted men constantly retreating and fighting desperate rear-guard actions.

Guy Sajer has himself said that he never intended to write an accurate military history; just relate his experiences as he recalled them. The mistakes actually incline me to believe in its authenticity as a fraudster would have taken more care with his research.

Unreservedly recommended.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, thought provoking and terrifiying, 27 Sept. 2003
By 
Philip Bryan (Lucan, Co. Dublin Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Forgotten Soldier (Hardcover)
Sajers book of his experiences in the German Army in Russia is one of the most moving personal accounts I have read on the subject. His book begins with the almost happy, optimistic days of his basic training in Poland in 1942 and moves to the complete terror, horror and desperation of the retreating Wehrmacht in Russia. His account of the crossing of the Dniper river and the seige of Memel in East Prussia made a particular impact on me.
Sajer was first posted as a Rohlbann solider guarding trains supplying front line troops. Later he volunteered for the infantry and was trained for the elite Gross Deutchland division. His experiences in this division, which saw some of the most brutal and merciless fighting of the war were, as the author himself often aludes to, almost beyond description.
The book is a personal account written by a common soldier and does not offer any overview of the strategy or general objectives of the German command. Rather it describes in great detail and with much empathy, the suffering, depravation and above all terror and fear which Sajer and his comrades felt throughtout the war.
The book is best appreciated if read in conjunction with a historical account of the the German-Soviet war (Barbarossa by Alan Clark is an excellent introduction to the subject). In this way Sajer experiences can be placed in an overall context.
The book is well written and extremely readable. I read the soft back edition, however there is a recently released hardback version with extensive photographs. Sajers account is an excellent example of this genre of book and in my opinion compulsory reading for anyone who is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the experiences of frontline German troops during this titanic and brutal conflict.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the most moving read ever!, 28 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
...i've read it twice in six months and was deeply moved. from the moment he was in the 19th company to the moment his mother fell into his arms.this as really brought home warfare at it's intense peak.as an ex soldier i could relate to this book and can only imagine what sajer,hals&the rest of them went through,totaly horrific but still comited to the bitter end. ireally would like to know what happend to those that survived especaily hals and paula.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best book ever written, 16 Mar. 1998
By A Customer
Guy Sajer's Forgotten Soldier is far and away the best book I have ever read. His account of his experiences are eloquent and touching. Never has an author managed to convey the feelings and emotions of war as how Sajer has done. I could not let go of this book and read it in the space of a day and a night....absolutley riveted to it. Sajer left me so transfixed that once I finished the book, I went-on line to find out more info about him and his book (at 4 in the morning). I only wish he would have written a longer epilogue so I could have found out more about his surviving comrades. If ever you should go out of your way to buy a book, it should be for this one. I know that for as long as I live I will never forget it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fact, 29 Jun. 2004
By 
What more can be said about this book? It truly is amazing. I read it about 5 years ago and still to this day find myself thinking about it at least every few weeks. And in regards to those of you who briefly scan the internet and support the half baked theory that its all fiction, i ask you to research beyond a brief read of one man rather ignorant questioning.
Read this book, I am by no means easily shocked but some things contained here made me stop reading, at least until i could get my head around what had happened and my thoughts in order.
Don't use this as a bible for military historical accuracy, use this as a guide to humanity in extremes. Of horror, of heartache, of hope.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sajer shows the reader that war really is hell., 3 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
I enjoyed this book immensely. As an amateur WWII historian, I like to get all sorts of perspectives on the war. Sajer's work provides a viewpoint that is rarely explored in the literature about WWII. I have heard much criticism of the historical accuracy of the book, with some "experts" even calling it work of pure fiction. Apparently there are a number of references to uniforms, equipment, etc. which no "real" German infantryman would have mistaken. I'm not one of those self-styled "experts", and therefore have not noticed the alleged inaccuracies. In any case, even if Sajer fashioned his tale from whole cloth, it's still a great read. It will give you a look inside the head of a scared, exhausted and demoralized human being who is fighting for his continued existence. Powerful stuff, indeed!
If you like this one, I would also recommend "Roll Me Over: An Infantryman's World War II", by Raymond Gantter. It's along the same lines as Sajer, but from the American perspective. Not quite as gripping, but still very insightful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 5 May 2011
By 
They say history is written by the victors, and by all accounts this is fairly true.

This book tells the true story of a young french voluntary recruit into the german army. He recites his part in WW2 from a Axis point of view. There is some times a stereo type of all the German combatants and even civilians as die hard nazis, this couldn't be further from the truth. Where the normal soldier was just following orders, having there own experiences and wars within the bigger conflict. There where also many other countries that where actively fighting the German cause and supplied manpower in that region of the world; Hungary, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Croatia. This book succeeds in giving us a German prospective albeit a Frenchman's from a half German heritage.

The story progresses through the main characters sign up into a support division of the German army, his tours of duty in Russia and subsequent recruitment into a elite german division.

The coverage of the Russian conflict is thought provoking and truly gives you the feel of the confusion and absolute misery of fighting in the bleak Russian landscape. The comradeship and the fact most where just kids not really understanding what they where fighting for or when it would end. How the Russians could and would be as brutal if not more so then the Germans. This book reminded me of 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow by Adam Zamoyski with regards to the suffering, cold and hunger, which was so much worse due to the time frame. I would recommend Zamoyski's novel to anyone who found this book interesting.

There has been some discussions about the authenticity of this story, with arguments for and against. My personal view is this is a true story for all extents. Then again i'm far from a expert of this period of history, but it's definitely a great read and i would highly recommend it to one and all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning account of War. Not easily forgotten., 7 Oct. 2010
By 
Mr. Thomas Page "Tom Page" (Southampton, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
They say history is written by the victor. Thankfully, this isn't always true, or else we wouldn't have the book in question. The Forgotten Soldier is a story compiled from the diaries of Guy Sajer, a French born German soldier who fought on the Eastern Front during World War Two. In our very Western centric view of history, and WW2 in particular, it is easy to get caught up in D-Day, the Battle of Britain and Dunkirk. However, as much as we would like to romanticise our victory in Europe, the opening of the Eastern front, and the huge difficulties faced by the Germans there, was a massive contributer to the collapse of the Nazi Empire. In addition to this, history is so very often covered, and indeed, taught, from a meta perspective, by which I mean, we talk about battles, skirmishes, tactics and strategy, while leaving out the individual tragedy of the human condition.

The Forgotten Soldier deals with exactly this, often in harrowing detail. Unrelenting in its pace, Sajers personal and shocking account of his individual experience of war on the Eastern front, describes in minute detail not only his physical but also emotional and psychological journey through a conflict which at times, it appears no one could have survived. Indeed by the end, Sajers physical survival of the war, is tempered by the twin casualties of his mind and spirit. This book is essential reading not just because it is a brilliantly honest, if traumatic read, but also because it is a slap in the face to the glamorised realities of war.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST WORLD WAR II BOOK EVER, 30 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
I first read The Forgotten Soldier when in high school--approximately the same age Sajer was when be entered the German army. I have read it numerous times since. It is the standard by which I judge all other war books. None have yet equalled it in my mind. More so than any other book I have read, it portrays the horror--physical, psychological, spiritual--of warfare for the ordinary combat soldier in vivid and real terms. Its vivid descriptions have stuck in my mind all these years, particularly the counter offensive at the battle of Belgorod. Also sticking in my mind is the account of when Sajer, deathly sick and lying at the bottom of a foxhole and wishing to die, promises his friend Hals that he will live, because his friend needs him. Powerful stuff! My father, by fortune of his emigration to the U.S. from Germany, missed serving in the Germany army during the war. I thank God that he was spared this fate. (It is unlikely I would be here.) That anyone can experience what Sajer did and still maintain his humanity is a testament to the human will. I was thrilled to see this book on the Amazon list, since I was afraid that I was one of only a few to experience the book. I wonder whether Sajer's friend Wollers was his real name or a psuedonym. This is not a common German name. I would be interested in knowing whether any of my relatives might have fought on the Russian front. Bravo to Amazon for bringing this masterpiece to a larger audience. Now if they could only make a movie of this book of the quality found in Private Ryan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guy Sajer is alive and living in Paris, 4 Aug. 1997
By A Customer
Guy Sajer is alive and well and living in Paris. He is a well known newspaper cartoonist and has never tried to hide his identity- nor has he tried to promote it (why should he, he is well known in his own country). He has illustrated a number of books and comic books on military themes- and has a personal interest in U-boats. Folks that work in Paris military bookshops know him fairly well.

On the other hand, Sajer does not like to talk much about the Forgotten Soldier. He seems to like having an aura of mystery about him. Responding to claims he does not exist- he thinks this is very funny. But again, why should he even care about trying to prove he is real if the book sells so well, and he is very easy to find if you use half an ounce of brain power?

A while ago a US Military Historian wrote an essay claiming the book was fake. In my opinion this essay was very poorly researched. Many of the reasons cited can easily be attributed to the fact that the book was written in French for a French audience. Hence FRENCH military terms (like PM for machine pistol) were used. Again, why would anyone but a diehard enthusiast worry about such details? Certainly not the book publishers who really do not care to re-do a book which keeps selling just fine as is.

Other small details have been cited to prove Sajer is a fake: GD title on wring sleeve- well, figure how easy this is to screw up in translation, or have a 'know-it-all-editor' see that all the SS armbands are on one sleeve, so he changes it. I do not think Sajer has ever even read the English translation. It is sloppy scholarship to use details in a translation of a book to claim the book is a fake! You must go to the original French version and cite the text as written by the author.

As to the non-existence of some of the names used in the book, and the use of certain famous other units (such as a famous Stuka squadron). How many other war books use altered names for whatever reason? So what? This is no big deal.

Keep in mind that this book was written in France during a time when it was NOT a good idea to let people know you served with the Germans- and definitely NOT a good idea to let them know you served in an elite German unit- and a NO NO if you were in an SS unit. Think about this- it is rather important to keep this in mind. Why write a book that may well get you into trouble, under your own name, when it is very easy to take a fake pen name?
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The Forgotten Soldier
The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer (Hardcover - 20 Mar. 2000)
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