This book is about a 17 year old half French / half German boy who fought in World War Two for Germany. At the beginning of the book, he is youthful, full of life and energy. Throughout the book, he seems to age 10 years, and loses all his emotions, love and spirit. He sees things that are impossible for people in our day in age to even imagine seeing. His German perspective on the war is interesting to say the least, and makes you realize that the average German soldier was just fighting for his life, not for Hitler.
Some people question the credibility of the author, but as far as I’m concerned, this is irrelevant. The extreme events that took place, and the diminishing of his soul are things that could have happened to any German foot soldier during World War two. Especially someone who fought in the battle for Stalingrad, probably the worst catastrophe I’ve ever read about.
Here is Guy Sajer on people reading about the war:
“Too many people learn about war with no inconvenience to themselves. They read about Verdun or Stalingrad without comprehension, sitting in a comfortable armchair, with their feet beside the fire, preparing to go about their business the next day, as usual. One should really read such accounts under compulsion, in discomfort, considering oneself fortunate not to be describing the events in a letter home, writing from a hole in the mud. One should read about war in the worst circumstances, when everything is going badly, remembering that the torments of peace are trivial, and not worth any white hairs. Nothing is really serious in the tranquility of peace; only an idiot could be really disturbed by a question of salary. One should read about war standing up, late at night, when one is tired, as I am writing about it now, at dawn, while my asthma attack wears off. And even now, in my sleepless exhaustion, how gentle and easy peace seems!”