Sunday, April 23, 2006

An Innocent Soldier by Josef Holub

Like Bilbo Baggings in The Hobbit, Adam the farmhand in An Innocent Soldier by Josef Holub involuntarily takes a long and dangerous journey to the east with a large party intent on plunder. Also like Bilbo he becomes a thief reluctantly, but he must to survive. There are no riddles, rings, or magical creatures, but he gets lost in the woods, crosses difficult rivers, and meets villains so evil they might as well be trolls. Unlike in The Hobbit, the way home is more dangerous than the outbound trip, and Adam is given no reward for his service.

An Innocent Soldier is a historical novel written for teens about Napoleon's disastrous campaign against Russia in 1812. Readers get the account of a teen swept into Le Grand Armee against his will, and see the cruelty, corruption, and mismanagement of the venture through his eyes. Uniforms that do not fit, pointless duties, near starvation, and lots of snow are part of the epic story, as are friendship and the generosity of strangers.

Thanks to Maggie at Maggie Reads for recommending this book, which was written by an author who was himself a teenage soldier in World War II. It should be in every public library.

Holub, Josef. An Innocent Soldier. Translated by Michael Hofmann. New York: Alfred A. Levine Books, 2005. ISBN 0439627710


Anonymous said...

This is an awesome book, I read it in summerschool. I would highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

An Innocent Soldier
By: Josef Holub

I give this book a thumbs way up. This book kept me interested all the way through. The book never got slow, it was so descriptive, I felt like I was placed in Adam’s shoes. I had no idea what war was like, but after reading this, I feel like I know from experience. The book was amazing in detail, and I had no idea what to expect when I got it, but I was pleasantly surprised with the description, and knowledge that Holub showed in this fictional war book.
I picked this book at complete random, and got interested from the get-go. The cover and title had me weary, but when I read the opening lines, I was even more worried about the outcome of this book. But then I got farther in, and the book went further in depth, and then the drama and action began, and the book began to hook me in. After a few days I didn’t want to stop reading.
The book began over seas during the times of Napoleon’s conquests. Adam Fueter is a farmhand (Farmer’s servant) who serves a mean and bitter farmer. One day the farmer takes Adam into town and leaves him. Once Adam notices his farmer’s departure, an army recruiter tells him, that he is in line to join the army. Adam pleads his case, but to no avail. As it turns out, the farmer brought Adam rather than his son, Gorge. Adam argues that he is not Gorge, and eventually breaks into tears. The attempt to claim that he is not Gorge was unsuccessful, and Adam was sent off to a war camp. There, Adam does work close to what he did at the farm, except with someone far worse. Sergeant Krauter is hell-bent to make Adam’s life hell. He will make Adam do horrible, disgusting and humiliating things. Things like cleaning the stables, but not with a broom and pan, but picking all the droppings up with his own hands.
Later on in the book though, some light shines on Adam, in the form of a raise. Adam is told to report to a lieutenant, a young man, named Konrad Klara. Adam is not sure what the new partner will bring, but he will take anything over the evil Krauter. The lieutenant turns out to be a young man, not much older than Adam himself. Adam is 15, and Klara is only 16 or 17, but in the army because his family is from a line of soldiers and royalty. As Konrad and Adam spend more and more time with each other, they realize that they are very similar, both in the line of interests, and even in overall personality. This proves the point, that given time, two people who come from completely different families, with completely different lives can be the best of friends. Overall, after reading this book, I learned a lot, ranging from war, to friendship, and I recommend this book, to anyone and everyone.

Tiggy said...

I liked this book alot! It had very good description but most of all I liked the friendship.
I think eveyone should read this book! =D