Book review-Not impressed!

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sniper1shot
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Book review-Not impressed!

Post by sniper1shot » 05 Feb 2005 03:56

Title: Frontsoldaten
Author: Stephen G. Fritz
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky
ISBN: 0-8131-0943-4
Stars: 2
(out of 5)

Ok, before everyone jumps down my throat on my review here...plse remember it is only MY review.
I was not really impressed with this book after all the hype I had heard on it. I received this as an Xmas gift so I didn't pay for it...thanks goodness.
This book is nothing more than quotes. Not paragraph quotes, but sentence quotes to combine into a paragraph. On any given paragraph there are approx 7 or more individual sentences attempting to make a paragraph. Each quote didn't even blend into the one before it. I found it very eratic.
This book also should of been called the Guy Sajer (The forgotten soldier) quote book. Seriously, almost every 2nd page has a quote from his book.....which some ppl don't even believe is a true memoir! I have to say I was really disappointed by the authors use of Non-fiction quotes. You would think out of all the veterans that sent letters or contacted him he would of had no use to use a non-fiction quote. Unbelievably he uses script from "Where Iron Crosses Grow" (I believe that was the title of the movie).Not once but 3 times. I am not going back through the book to find the pages.
Most of the quotes deal with the war on the Eastern Front with a sprinkling of France both '40 and '44 and maybe 2 quotes with Africa.
I only got the feel for the Landsers a couple of times and that was during the advance to Moscow in '41 and the winter of '41-42. I mostly just tried to understand how the sentences were going together or where they were going! No pictures.
Unfortunately, I found myself just hurrying to finish the book.
This is one title I can't see myself recommending.

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Dan W.
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Post by Dan W. » 05 Feb 2005 08:04

That book sucked.

Regards,
Dan

Larso
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Post by Larso » 11 Jun 2006 08:23

Yeah I'm inclined to agree. There does seem to be a Sajer quote on every page - sometimes a couple of them. I think 'Forgotten Soldier' is authentic and seeing the quotes used alongside others really shows what an extroadinary book it was. However I have it already and I can read it any time. When I pay for a book I want new stuff. Thankfully there is some good new stuff from several fascinating landsers - so much so, that I found myself wanting books on/by them rather than this too broad scope compendrum. And I agree about the strangeness of fictional works like "Cross of Iron' being included. In many ways this book reads like the best bits of all the current memiors (Knapp, Poppel etc) but cluttered by a deluge of minor quotes from a thousand letters. There is a place for this sort of material but it hasn't been used to it's best advantage here.

Even the choice of picture for the cover - that same bloke from the Battle of the Bulge - we've seen a hundred times before. Overall the author seems to have been combining all the texts he loved into one volume. THat's OK, I can understand the labor of love involved - but mostly it's too cliched for the historians amongst us.

Marc Rikmenspoel
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Post by Marc Rikmenspoel » 11 Jun 2006 18:50

I tend to agree with the above views. the thing that really annoyed me about the book was Fritz's insistence in the introduction that he didn't use Waffen-SS sources, but then he repeatedly quotes Hans Werner Woltersdorf, who served in the 2. SS-Panzer Division!

Wolf
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Post by Wolf » 12 Jun 2006 20:38

Truth be told, I didn't much like it either.

:?

Larso
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Post by Larso » 15 Jun 2006 14:03

I've almost finished this book now and I do have to say that Fritz can write well enough. Some of his analysis and opinion on the various aspects of the landsers war are quite interesting and indeed, quite well written. I think the book is at it's best when Fritz is telling the story himself. Some quotes add to a text, too many can be disruptive and he goes this way too much. Also there probably isn't sufficient differentiation between some of the chapters, which gives a feeling of sameness (to the point where the same quote has been used twice - 3 or 4 examples of that). As for some of those soldiers whose stories I'd have liked to read - well looking a bit further, they were actually sourced from memiors after all. So yes, again a bit heavy on material available elsewhere. Lots of the letters though are news to me (Fritz writes that 50 - 70 billion items of mail were posted by German troops during the war) and I did learn some interesting things regarding attitudes. I hadn't quite realised that so many troops were 'true believers' as far as National Socialists went.

So yeah, I'd like to say that all things considered, this book is worth a look at.

Marc Rikmenspoel
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Post by Marc Rikmenspoel » 17 Jun 2006 05:45

I think we should stop for a moment to ask what a "true believer" meant. What I took away from various letters and such was that Nazi propaganda claimed that Communism was a blight on the world, and that Slavs in general were inferior. When German soldiers advanced into Russia and Ukraine, they found a majority of the people living in comparatively primative conditions, and often seeming to accept their sorry (by German standards) lot in life without complaint. So the soldiers wrote home, making statements such as, "Hitler was right about the "workers' paradise" being an unfit hellhole, and the people fit the descriptions we've been given, because they put up with these conditions!" And German soldiers are supposed to be condemned for attitudes such as this, when I consider the reactions entirely logical, and not particularly representative of a true committment to the ideals of Nazism.

As a further note, I once had the opportunity to read a personal letter Waffen-SS Knight's Cross Fritz Langanke wrote in English to someone I knew. Langanke commented that when he was a child, unemployment and poor economic conditions were rife in Germany, but that once Hitler came to power, Germany became strong economically and militarily. The country was victorious in the early stages of the war, and seemingly had entered a golden era. Why would anyone be surprised that many Germans then fought hard to maintain what was a seeming golden era? Langanke's sentiment also feels logical to me. It helps explain the determined resistance put up by the Germans in the last year of the war far better than notions such as "devout Nazi fanaticism" (much as most of the Red Army apparently fought much more for Mother Russia and similar ideals than for the advancement of the cause of the Communist Party, no matter how much German propaganda referred to "fanatical Communists").

sniper1shot
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Post by sniper1shot » 20 Jun 2006 00:51

So yeah, I'd like to say that all things considered, this book is worth a look at.
I still stand by my review. There are way too many quotes to make this a book worth reading or buying. It is a book of quotes that don't even cover all the war theatres evenly.
There are too many other good titles out there worth buying.
This is just my opinion.

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