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Five Years,Four Fronts: A German Officer's World War II Combat Memoir Mass Market Paperback – 15 Apr 2005

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; Presidio Press Mass Market Ed edition (15 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345476107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345476104
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 2 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 929,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

" A better book [than] "All Quiet on the Western Front,""
"- Journal of Military History"

" A better book [than] All Quiet on the Western Front . "
- Journal of Military History

"A better book [than] "All Quiet on the Western Front"."
"-Journal of Military History"

A better book [than] "All Quiet on the Western Front."
" Journal of Military History""

A better book [than] All Quiet on the Western Front.
Journal of Military History"

From the Inside Flap

After Hitler's invasions of Poland and France came the Russian Front-and that's when the real war started.
An infantryman who rose from the enlisted ranks to regimental command in combat, Georg Grossjohann fought on four different fronts during World War II, but saw most of his fighting-from 1941 to 1944-against Russians in the Soviet Union and Romania. He provides shattering glimpses of the horror and chaos of the war, as well as profound insights into everyday life in the "Wehrmacht.
"Five Years, Four Fronts chronicles the combat experiences of Grossjohann and his men as they triumphantly roll across Poland, France, and the sunny steppes of the Ukraine, only to ultimately sustain grinding defeats in the endless, freezing plains of the Soviet Union and the grim, dark Vosges Mountains of France. Grossjohann was a soldier's soldier, respected by his men, undaunted by his superiors, and, as can be observed in this raw, brutally honest account, not afraid to call the shots as he saw them.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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I grew to like Georg but I really wanted him to give a more detailed run through of events sometimes. Whole battles are covered by a paragraph or two, and almost more time is given to describing past training superiors than events of the war.

But, a moderately interesting read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
All though compelled to give the author an above average credit for bringing his memoires into light, this book is a fairly fast finished read, and sometimes leaves too much to be wished for in details. The memoir gives a descent insight in the fighting on parts of Eastern Front and interestingly also in the Southern parts of France, a battle area much overlooked. Most fascinating is how fast the author rose in the ranks from regular soldier to regimental commander during the progression of the war. Still it remains only a good read.
I would suggest reading also "In Deadly Combat" by Gottlob Herbert Bidermann.
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This book gives the authors reflections on his time in the German army including periods at the front and away from the front and during training. Although another reveiwer critises the fact that there is not a lot of detailed combat action I would have to defend the author by saying that this is his personal account and his veiw of his service. There are plenty of 'blood and guts ' accounts out there if thats what you want to read. As for it being no ' forgotten soldier ' I do know that there are doubts that this book is truly a genuine first hand account. The mere fact that this is written in such a modest style makes it all the more interesting and gives you confidence that the author has not taken the opportunity to 'bull up' his own military career.The only thing that spoilt it for me was the , in my opinion , intrusive narrative of the general war situation that someone has added in between the authors story. You could quite happily read the whole book and skip these parts which break up the flow of what the author has to say. I think that most students of military history would understand what happened during the war before tackling personal accounts such as this but I presume the main reason for the additional narrative is to bulk the book out otherwise it would be an even faster read than it already is.Definately worth reading.
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The first thing to note is that the hyperbole about being better than "All quiet on the Western Front" is simply nonsense. This is not a graphic novel about war, it is a rather down to earth and at times limited account of an infantryman's experiences in WW2. This is not all bad as it is a very honest view of what was going on around the author who served as a relatively junior officer till the last few months of the war - at which time communications had started to break down and the bigger-picture was not available to him.

I agree with another reviewer's comments about the slightly intrusive nature of the background briefs between each chapter and you do get the impression that this was used to make this into a longer read. That said, the Author's account jumps around somewhat and the background info is useful.

It would be interesting to know if the author intended the "diaries" to be made public or indeed whether the notes were made at the time - for the text seems to lacks some of the colour of a contemporary account. We have family diaries of the wars which were distributed to members of the family on condition that they are never to be published as they contain many comments that would have been considered highly critical of public figires and their decisions. This is hinted at in the Epilogue when the Author's son suggests his father had strong views about a lot of what happened - but frustratingly, this potentially very interesting material is not contained in the book.

As a former soldier I fully acknowledge Georg Grossjohann's achievements and have the utmost respect for men such as him who saw their army crumble into a brutal chaos as the war progressed. It was certainly worth reading once but I am not sure I would want to read it again - unlike a number of other books of this type which I have picked up many times over the years.
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