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An Innocent Soldier by Josef Holub
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An Innocent Soldier

by Josef Holub

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To be honest, I did not particularly care for this book, which was disappointing because I thought it was going to be really good. The book follows a young, underage, soldier. The boy, a young farmhand by the name of Adam, was taken to the military recruiters despite his age. In fact, the farmer who took him to the military outpost forged Adam's name by labeling Adam by his son's name. Despite the fact that he was clearly underage, the military accepted him anyway. From there the book follows his long journey to France. Adam faces a lot of challenges along the way. He battle fatigue, escapes death, and all the while matures well beyond his years as a result. The book to me seemed to be written in such a way that it was a turn off. Instead of using simple sentences, the author goes off on long tangents in order to convey simple messages. This grew tiring to me and it wasn't until about page 130 when I actually started to enjoy the book. ( )
  chris.coelho | Sep 23, 2011 |
Young Adult. Spoiler. This is the story of a peasant boy in middle Europe somewhere who is part of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. He works as a farmhand but then the Farmer's son gets drafted & the farmer sends the farmhand instead. He has no idea what is happening. He is very young and seems stupid but is mostly young and naive. An equally young lieutenant takes him as his servant & the 2 go through the war together, managing to survive. At the end, the main character is now a Sergeant (I think...or soon to be one) and stays in the army, the Lieutenant is back with his noble family convalescing. There is an evil Sergeant who is pretty unbelievable, he is like a myth; he keeps reappearing and seems to be the leader of a band of black marketers. He is like a shadow that reappears throughout the book.
  franoscar | Aug 6, 2010 |
Adam, a 16-year-old orphan working as a farmhand in a small village in France in 1811, is drafted into Napoleon's Grand Army by his Farmer. Ripped from the life he knew and thrown into a completely new routine, Adam must face the harsh realities of war alone. Eventually, a young lieutenant takes him on as his personal servant, and the two forge a bond that helps them survive through an extremely harsh adventure. The book is an interesting historical tale that reads pretty easily for grade school readers. The book would be a good group-read because of the graphic material, but the relationship between the two boys is endearing and the overarching message of friendship is valuable. Ages 10-14 ( )
  rheasly | Jan 17, 2010 |
Richie's Picks: AN INNOCENT SOLDIER by Josef Holub, translated by Michael Hofmann, Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books, October 2005, ISBN: 0-439-62771-0
"Amazing. In spite of the thousands of dead bodies all around me, I have a dreadful idea. There are so many trousers lying here, some bloody, some clean. Depending on whether the soldiers were shot in their upper or lower halves. All I need to do is take them away from a dead man. Simple.
"Then I suddenly feel my body heave. I sit down on an empty spot on the battlefield and vomit up half my stomach.
"For his part, Konrad Klara can hardly walk, but he helps get me back on my feet.
"Bare and naked we stumble about among the mutilated heroes.
"I narrow my eyes to the merest slit. So that I don't see everything. I'm only out for suitable trousers. Most of them are no use at all. They are slashed, holed, or sodden with blood. But here's a pair that might do for my lieutenant. Their wearer has been shot in the chest. The trousers didn't take any damage. Now's not the time to hang around. Yes or no. Stay naked or rob the dead. I drop to my knees in front of the dead soldier, and pull at his trousers. I'm in a hurry. I want it to be over. Fortunately, it's pretty dark. That way I can't see the dead man's face. The trousers are fashionably tight. I can't get them over the shoes. So shoes off, too. They are good shoes. They might fit me. I try them on. They're still warm. Why warm? The soldier twitches. He's alive.
"My head spins and everything goes black. I throw the shoes down and crawl away."
Adam Feucher is a sixteen-year-old orphan working as a stableboy in Germany in 1811. He's great with the horses. Never in his life has he been as far as town; he truly is an innocent. Then the farmer, to whom he essentially belongs, awakens him in the middle of the night, brings him to town, and dupes both he and the conscription commission into taking Adam as if he were actually the farmer's real (and only) son Georg. Such is the manner in which Adam becomes one of the nearly half-million men (and boys) heading for Russia in Napoleon's Grande Armee.
Konrad Klara is the young aristocratic lieutenant who eventually takes on handy-with-the-horses Adam as his personal servant, saving the stableboy-turned-reluctant soldier from the sadistic Sergeant Krauter.
The pair are extremely different in some ways, surprisingly similar in others. Together they watch each other's back and repeatedly save each other's life. Together they develop the sort of closer-than-brothers relationship that is so intense and intimate in its power that it transcends the book's historic fiction elements and war-as-insanity theme.
Of the many great things to be said about Mildred Taylor's THE LAND, it is the relationship between Paul Edward Logan and Mitchell Thomas which cements that book as one of my all-time favorite reads. There are far too few such intense guy relationships in YA fiction. AN INNOCENT SOLDIER is certainly one for my list.
Which is not to say that the gruesome and engrossing historic details of the march to Moscow (and back from Moscow for the few "lucky" survivors) are not thoroughly engaging. I knew next to nothing about Napoleon, his ill-advised strategy, and how many countries were involved in sending young men to their deaths. I am certainly glad that I've read it during sunny summertime, for I've shivered enough through the book as it is.
Adam Feucher's coming of age in the shadow of Napoleon is an immensely valuable picture of war, history, and friendship.
Richie Partington
http://richiespicks.com
BudNotBuddy@aol.com ( )
  richiespicks | May 22, 2009 |
A good war story.
  claytonstudents | Oct 21, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Josef Holubprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hofmann, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439627710, Hardcover)

A naive country boy grapples with life in the army during Napoleon's disastrous campaign against Russia.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A sixteen-year-old farmhand is tricked into fighting in the Napoleonic Wars by the farmer for whom he works, who secretly substitutes him for the farmer's own son.

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