- About PSB
- For Kids & Teens
- Book Fairs
- My Account
Adam is a farmhand conscripted by Napoleon's army, which is gathering strength for its campaign against Russia. Sergeant Krauter makes Adam the victim of his most sadistic urges. But when an aristocratic young lieutenant spots Adam and requisitions him as his personal valet, Adam's life seems to take a turn for the better.As Adam and Lieutenant Konrad Klara draw closer to Moscow, they encounter a panoply of wartime horrors. THE RUSSIAN SOLDIER - both poignant and funny - explores the importance of friendship in persevering against overwhelming odds.
AN INNOCENT SOLDIER
Author: Holub, Josef
Sixteen-year-old Adam Feuchter is tricked by the farmer he works for, substituted for the farmer's own son and drafted into the army. Napoleon's Grande Armée, the largest army the world had ever seen, is on its way to Russia. At first pleased to be part of the magnificent regiment and eager to catch a glimpse of "the greatest general in history," Adam is soon disillusioned by war. The cruelties and humiliations he faces at the hands of his own sergeant are just the beginning, as he witnesses the horrible ways soldiers treat locals. Starvation, cholera and Cossack attacks foreshadow disaster in Moscow and the ugly retreat, hindered by brutal cold and Russian troops hounding them. Translated from the German, the simple, understated and at times eloquent first-person narrative rings true to one boy's experience of war, adventure and survival. (map spread, historical note) (Fiction. 12+)
\\\\\\\\Holub, Josef. An Innocent Soldier. Tr. by Michael Gofmann. 2005. 240p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.99 (0-439-62771-0).
Gr. 712. In this unevenly translated novel, a teenaged farmhand is forced to take part in Napoleon's ill-fated Russian campaign. Unsuspecting orphan Adam is handed over to recruiting officers by the farmer he works for as a replacement for the man's drafted son. Assigned to the horse artillery, Adam leads a miserable life until the blue-blooded Lieutenant Konrad Klara requisitions him to become his personal servant. The young men head toward Moscow, but are soon overcome by hunger and disease. After witnessing many wartime atrocities, the two survive the suicide march out of Russia and form an unlikely bond that transcends class and station. Other than a brief historical note, little background information is given, assuming much prior knowledge on the part of the reader. While the novel is evocative in places, the translation is replete with odd-sounding phrases and awkward transitions. The book's greatest strength is the description of a friendship formed by two motherless boys from different classes who find common cause in the middle of an unwinnable war. Jennifer Hubert
HOLUB, Josef. An Innocent Soldier. tr. by Michael Hofmann. 231p. CIP. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. 2005. Tr $16.99. ISBN 0-439-62771-0. LC 2005002583.
Gr 8 UpThe book begins in 1811 in pre-unification Germany as a farmer enlists his unwitting farmhand, Adam, in Napoleon's Grande Armée under the name of his only son, Georg Bayh. The bewildered teen, who is sure that this great mistake” will eventually be rectified, trains dutifully despite being continually harassed by a sadistic sergeant. He is saved when a young aristocratic lieutenant needs a servant, and his situation greatly improves. This is a tale of unlikely friends marching from Germany to Moscow with Napoleon's ill-fated invasion of Russia. While few battles are detailed, readers experience all of the horror, drudgery, and absurdity of war. Vivid descriptions include the endless walking, hustling for boots and warm clothing, gnawing hunger, and dysentery. Old-fashioned rules of engagement, etiquette, and a strict class system are all seamlessly worked into Adam's believable narrative. The boy grows from being a scared child to an obedient servant, to becoming a capable and resilient, if arguably less innocent, soldier. The first two thirds of first-person account are rich in period detail, but rarely broken up with dialogue, making it a tad slow going. The pacing somehow echoes the experiences of Napoleon's coalition army. Things pick up during its retreat, as the danger increases and the boys are able to lay aside class strictures to forge a true friendship. This is a well-wrought psychological tale that might have a difficult time finding an audience, but has a lot to offer to those seeking to build a deep hist