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Innocent Soldier
     

Innocent Soldier

4.3 6
by Josef Holub
 

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The critically acclaimed 2006 Mildred L. Batchelder Award-winning story of two boys caught up in an unwinnable war--now in paperback with After Words bonus features. 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

Overview

The critically acclaimed 2006 Mildred L. Batchelder Award-winning story of two boys caught up in an unwinnable war--now in paperback with After Words bonus features. 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. AN INNOCENT SOLDIER--both poignant and funny--explores the importance of friendship in persevering against overwhelming odds.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There is a stunning moment at the beginning of Bohemian author Holub's absorbing novel about Napoleon's 1811 invasion of Russia when readers realize what orphaned farmhand Adam, the innocent soldier of the title, does not: though only 16, he's joining the French emperor's Grand Armee in place of the son of the man who took him in. Over the course of the next grueling year, gentle Adam, who narrates, confronts the atrocities of war (stealing uniforms from the dead, eating horseflesh to survive). He must contend with a vicious sergeant, who never misses an opportunity to humiliate him, and also wrestle with questions about the treachery of the farmer, whom Adam had seen as a father figure. The boy's luck turns when he becomes aide-de-camp to a young privileged lieutenant. The sweet bonding of these two teens as they slog to Moscow and back underscores the importance of friendship. They take turns saving each other from mortar fire, Cossack attacks, even deadly dysentery. (Of the 15,000 troops that left from their part of the German empire, 300 return alive.) The writing is elegant in its plain descriptions (after a good meal with the soldiers, "Even my thoughts about the farmer disappear as quickly as three drops of honey in the acorn coffee we get on Sundays") and unsparing in its recounting of the horrific details of this famous military campaign. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Sixteen-year-old Adam Feuchter trusts the cruel farmer who is his master and is stunned to discover that the farmer has tricked Adam into being conscripted into Napoleon's infamous half-a-million-strong Grand Armee, replacing Georg, the farmer's son. Napoleon's catastrophic march into Russia is a historical reality that Holub brings to life in blisteringly honest detail. Adam becomes the target of a crazed sergeant, bent on killing the young boy, until an aristocrat officer, Lieutenant Konrad Klara, takes Adam under his wing. Using their cunning, honed by a frantic desperation to stay alive despite the crushing obstacles of a terrible war plan, deadly weather, and unconventional combat methods used by the enemy, the two young men are among the few who make it to Moscow and back. Holub, who was a teenaged soldier during World War II, published his first book at age sixty-seven. He is the recipient of two prestigious European literary awards-the Peter HSrtling Prize for Children's Literature and the Znrich Children' Book Prize-and should, by rights, receive more accolades for this unforgiving look at the shockingly brutal reality of warfare and its terrible cost. Highly recommended, it can easily take its place next to Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun and All Quiet on the Western Front by Remarque. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 231p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Beth E. Andersen
Children's Literature
A German teenager named Adam Feuchter is duped into becoming a soldier in Napoleon's Grand Armee just before the fateful invasion of Russia in 1812. Once Feuchter is in the army he discovers that, "Wars make heroes. Who are generally dead by the time it is over." He also falls under the control of a cruel sergeant who torments him for no reason. Only fate, in the form of a kind young lieutenant, offers him any hope. In Russia, Feuchter sees the horrors of war and the brutality that it breeds. He comes to believe that, "A person gets born whether he wants to or not." Over the course of a year, Feuchter marches all the way to Moscow before a terrible disaster befalls Napoleon's previously unbeatable army. Facing catastrophe, Feuchter must fight to live and discover what he is willing to do in order to survive. Skillfully translated from the original German, this novel tells the universally-relevant story of youths caught up in the madness of war. In Feuchter and his lieutenant, readers will encounter two characters that come to life. Their experiences in Napoleon's disastrous attempt to conquer Czarist Russia chronicle a dramatic period in European history. The book also tells the story of war's ultimate destruction of both the material world and the inner spiritual one as well. This is a page-turning historical novel that accurately depicts a keynote event in world history and does so with figures that readers can believe in. 2005, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Ages 10 up.
—Greg M. Romaneck
An Innocent Soldier tells the story of an unusual friendship between an aristocrat and a peasant in Napoleonic Europe. Forced to enlist under his master's son's name in Napoleon's Grande Armee, Adam Feuchter is instantly terrorized by the horrors of war and is desperate to escape until he witnesses the consequences of desertion. Adam's lot takes a turn for the better, however, when a young lieutenant requisitions him as his personal servant, and the surprising friendship that grows between them is ultimately what gets them through the terrible war alive. Adam's gratitude to Konrad Klara for taking him under his wing results in a great bond of loyalty, and his fear and insecurity evolve into great bravery and courage as the two of them fight to survive the Russian campaign. The war that introduces Adam to so many terrible things also rewards him with true friendship and the possibility of a happier life afterward. 2005, Arthur A.Levine Books, 240 pp., Ages young adult.
—Katherine Harder
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-The book begins in 1811 in pre-unification Germany as a farmer enlists his unwitting farmhand, Adam, in Napoleon's Grande Armee 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 historical fiction collection.-Christina Stenson-Carey, Albany Public Library, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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 Armee, 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+)
From the Publisher

Kirkus 9/15/05
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+)

Booklist 11/15/05
\\\\\\\\Holub, Josef. An Innocent Soldier. Tr. by Michael Gofmann. 2005. 240p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.99 (0-439-62771-0).
Gr. 7–12. 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
SLJ 12/1/05
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 Up–The 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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545355698
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/01/2011
Sold by:
Scholastic, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
967,814
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author


Josef is author of The Robber and Me and An Innocent Soldier. Published in 2005, An Innocent Soldier chronicles the journey of a sixteen-year-old boy who is tricked into fighting in the Napoleonic Wars by his employer. This ALA Notable Children’s book is also the winner of the Mildred L. Batchelder Award.

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An Innocent Soldier 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was great; the cover art wasn't! On the cover of the version available for nook, in my opinion, Adam looks sort of Dopey, and I just don't like it. The other version is dark green with a picture of Adam supporting Klara. He has a look in his eye, and in his appearence that gives you the feeling that he's been through a lot. Google it if you want to see for yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it it reminded me of War Horse
chadlyman More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, I really didn't know what to expect from this book, but I ended up being very impressed. It was a really good war book. A great novel of a farmhand that was forced into the Nepoleon army and ended up living nicely after. I would definately recommend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an okay book in my opinion. It talks about this farm boy named Adam and how he is part of the war. So parts are boring and some are hard to understand. This book was kind of hard for my.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it was one of the best books i ever read and was a page turner
Guest More than 1 year ago
An Innocent Soldier is about a young farmhand, Adam, forced to join the largest army in the world, the Grand Armée, led by Napoleon. He is signed up for war under the name of the son of the farmer for whom he works for. Adam is sent to be trained by the malign Sergeant Krauter who constantly bullies Adam and only Adam, yet no one knows why. He wants to escape, but chooses against it after seeing the horrific consequences. He is saved by Lieutenant Lammersdorf and takes Adam under his wing as his new servant. Adam and Lieutenant Lammersdorf depend on each other for survival in the terrible, bloody war. Their friendship and trust continues to grow throughout the book, which was unusual because of their very different social rankings. Holub vividly describes their terrors that they are forced to face everyday. One of which includes while bathing in a lake, their clothes, horses, and money all get stolen and with the freezing temperatures at night in Russia, they are bound for trouble. There is also hardly any food to eat and no clean water to drink for the entire army. During the war, many got sick and died, from causes other than battles. The book does not go into great detail about the separate battles, but shows the damage and aftermath of them. Adam and the lieutenant grow from the war, and learn more about themselves. In the end, only about one fourth of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that went to Russia returned home. This book teaches about friendship, trust, pain, cruelty, strenght, and perseverance. I would certainly recommend this book, especially to someone needing motivation to overcome their difficulties in life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book and I couldn't put it down. I love the way it's written and I loved the storyline. The ending was perfect. It's a simple book that focuses on the life of this one soldier and his friend he makes on the way. This book is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!