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Book Title: Comrades of War|
The size of the: 726 KB
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Reader ratings: 7.6
The author of the book: Sven Hassel
Date of issue: April 1st 2007
ISBN 13: 9780304366880
Format files: PDF
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I picked this up from a book exchange at a B&B I was staying in. Judging from the cover (someone one should do with caution) I thought I was getting a mindless action tale to flip through while on vacation. I was wrong.
Comrades of War is a gritty look at the life of a unit of Wehrmacht soldiers as the Third Reich begins to collapse. There are few battle scenes. Most of the action takes place while they are in a hospital recovering from grievous wounds and drinking themselves to oblivion. There's plenty of fistfights, the guys solve a murder, and one of them even falls in love. then they go back to the front, a place they psychologically never left.
I'd never heard of Sven Hassel before I read this novel. Judging from his other titles, Comrades of War appears to be typical of his work. Many of the characters reappear in his other novels. I looked Hassel up and found him to be as intriguing as the books he wrote. He was Danish and claimed to have fought in the German army on the Eastern Front. Another Danish writer researched his past and said Hassel was in fact a Nazi informer in occupied Denmark. Claims and counterclaims shot back and forth and I am not sure who is right, although I'm leaning towards the "Hassel was a fake" theory.
Whatever he was, Hassel was a great writer who understood the madness of war and the mindset of soldiers. You end up sympathizing with these guys despite their being on the wrong side. They never commit atrocities (at least not in this book) and they hate the officer corps and the Nazi party members, who are invariably shown to be corrupt, brutal, and weak. Well worth a read.
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Read information about the authorHassel served in the Danish merchant navy till 1937, when he moved to Germany to join the army. He served with the second Panzer Division stationed at Eisenach and in 1939 was a tank driver during the invasion of Poland. A year later he attempted to escape because of being mentally exhausted. He was transferred to a Sonderabteilung, a penal unit manned by criminals and dissidents. He served with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and later the 11th and 27th Panzer Regiments (6th Panzer Division) on all fronts except North Africa and was wounded several times. Eventually he reached the rank of lieutenant and received an Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class. He surrendered to Soviet troops in Berlin in 1945 and spent the following years in various POW camps. He began to write his first book Legion of the Damned while he was interned. He was released in 1949, and was planning to join the French Foreign Legion when he met Dorthe Jensen. They got married in 1951. He went to work in a car factory. In 1957 Sven Hassel suffered from an attack of a sickness caught during the war and was paralyzed for almost two years. After recovery, he began to write more books.
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