Book Review - "Grandfather's Tale" -1 reply

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jumjum

Write heavy; write hard.

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11th April 2005

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#1 12 years ago

You cannot believe how bad this book is. It purports to be the story of a 12-year-old who in 2000 listens to his 80-year-old great-grandfather's tales of having been a one-man sniping army for the Wehrmacht.

I must admit I bought "Grandfather's Tale" by mistake: I was under the impression it was an actual memoir. There was nothing about the book, it's jacket, "blurb" or description by Amazon to inform the buyer that it was fiction. Indeed, it was paired with a genuine memoir for sale at a special price. I assumed from all available evidence the book had been written by the grandson of a Wehrmacht sniper. It didn't take long for me to realize I had been taken.

I was first surprised by the almost juvenile style of writing in "Grandfather's Tale". Now, it's not unusual for World War II memoirs to be less than literary gems, because rarely is the author a professional writer. But we devotees of the war memoir make allowances in order to read about the true experiences of combat veterans of World War II. Veracity is what we prize most, and style is secondary.

But even by the relaxed "military memoir" standard, "Grandfather's Tale" is barely readable by an adult. The vocabulary, style and sentence structure employed is usually seen in books meant for readers who are 11-13 years of age. Indeed, the novel's voice is a 12-year-old boy. The events described however, kill after kill after kill of a sniper's victims, are far from appropriate for middle-schoolers. So I am left puzzled as to the age group for whom the book is intended.

More troubling is the fact the book is rife with glaring grammatical and typographical errors. Most maddening is author Timothy Erenberger's complete ignorance as to the proper form of the first person objective. (Hint: it's not "I") Several times I read with disgust lines such as, "He gave Koenig and I something to eat". That this kind of complete ignorance of basic rules of English grammar can be overlooked in a book advertised and sold by the world's largest book retailer amazes me.

Finally, it is the plot itself that gave away the fact I was reading a figment of someone's imagination rather than a truthful account. In Erenberger's world, German snipers were organized in units of 20 or so, as snipers, as early as the campaign in Poland. According to the author German snipers took up a single advantageous position and stayed there for kill after kill - perhaps 50 over the course of an afternoon. In Erenberger's world snipers routinely made one-shot between-the-eyes kills at 600 meters, and attempted shots out to 2000 meters. In "Grandfather's Tale", the sniper can somehow control recoil so well that, even at extreme distances, he can observe his shots as they hit right between the eyes of his targets. And finally, Erenberger apparently discovered a WWII telescopic sight that could somehow be attached to and detached from various rifles as easily as if they were made of Velcro. (I don't think Erenberger has ever heard of drilling and tapping a rifle for a telescopic sight.) Oh, and Erenberger's sniper somehow made it into every major combat on the Eastern and Western Fronts from Poland to the Bulge.

This is an astoundingly poorly written and researched book by an amateur author who has unintentionally revealed how little he knows about sniping, the Wehrmacht or even World War II. The reader interested in these subjects would do far, far better to purchase "Sniper On The Eastern Front" by Sepp Allerberger...a real memoir, intelligently written by a man who knew what he was writng about.




foodmaniac2003

Gelato pwns all

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11th March 2006

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#2 12 years ago

That seems pretty bad. Being 13, ive read my own share of horrible WWII childrens books...

If you ever read the Boy at War series, youll know what REALLY bad is...

It was a horrible WWII story written for children. I twas praised by book critcs of the children, but it overall disgusted me...

What I hate most is the enormous censorship of language the authors strive for, and their glorification of a" brave soldier from America out to do his duty." The stereotyping also pisses me off with "oh, it was horrible. so many bodies without arms and legs. i vomited.". I know thats true but few authors can truly explain that. Theyre all EXTREMELY watered down.

A very, very good childrens book that doesn't censor anything but is about vietnam is Fallen Angles by Walter Dean Myers. I strongly advise you to check it out. It is a very good story and although written for children, reads like a book written a bit more for adults. Includes all the horrors and the almost brotherhood and is beautifully written. Sure a bit of humor is put in, but it really gets into a soldiers mind.




Toekar

Proud to be American

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21st August 2005

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#3 12 years ago

Well JumJum, to make up for the bad book i suggest "Death Traps" by Benlton Y. Cooper. In a nutshell, it tells how the Shermans performed in combat and other experiences (which were quiet... unique) Benlton Cooper had. If not "Splinter Cell" by the famous Tom Clancy was good too. Just read that.




Polska

"The original one"

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19th September 2004

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#4 12 years ago

Heh, you placed exactly the same article on Amazone jumjum :p




foodmaniac2003

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11th March 2006

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#5 12 years ago

He is the only one to give a 1 starred review :p




JohnWalker

The Few. The Proud.

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14th November 2004

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#6 12 years ago

Fallen Angels was pretty good. Read it back in.. eigth grade I belive. Anyone read Ed Kugler's book, Dead Center?




jumjum

Write heavy; write hard.

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11th April 2005

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#7 12 years ago
Polska;3391500Heh, you placed exactly the same article on Amazone jumjum :p

Your point would be? I'm plagiarizing myself? Never waste material. I am surprised they put it up so soon. Particularly when it says one of their books isn't worthy of the litter box.

I'm waitng for the day the author, " a martial arts and close combat expert". comes looking for me for ruining his sweet gig.

*edit* And Kruger, I've just read excerpts of Belton Cooper's well known book, but I'm about ready to move into American memoirs, so I'm sure I'll reach him in '07.




Von Mudra

Lo, I am Mudra, za emo soldat!

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25th September 2004

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#8 12 years ago

Very good review jum, I'll be sure to not be getting that book anytime soon. I have heard of a memoir by the guy who was the top german sniper of WW2, does anyone here know the title?




jumjum

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#9 12 years ago
Von Mudra;3391731...I have heard of a memoir by the guy who was the top german sniper of WW2, does anyone here know the title?

He's not the top AFAIK, but I recommend highly Sepp Allerberger's memoir, Sniper On The Eastern Front. He was an Austrian sniper with well over 80 confirmed scores (and perhaps twice that many unconfirmed) with 3rd Gebirgsjager Division, serving almost continuously from July 1943 until war's end in what proved to be a single slow withdrawal from Ukraine into Poland, Romania, Hungary and Czecchoslovakia.

He's the real goods, and you'll see what care and planning a good sniper put into the choosing of multiple positions, methods of ingress and egress, secondary and tertiary positions, etc. Surprisingly, Allerberger was used as much to conduct recon, and cover wihdrawals or to perfoirm "overwatch" during attacks, as he was in the classic role of sniper in hiding waiting for a victim. He also had the job of counter-sniper, and when Russian snipers were encountered (once in company strength!) it was his job to hunt him or her down. He shows how sniping was done by the most experienced (and longest surviving) marksmen. He is adamant that shooting skills were really of secondary importance to that of the ability to scout out good and secure positions from which a clean escape could be made.

An interesting note to Allerberger's book is that he seemed to have few friends in his unit, and none really close. The landsers of his unit were happy for him to save their hides during withdrawal or while covering them in attacks, but otherwise he seemed to be something of a pariah, no doubtlaboring under the well known sniper's burden of being shunned for his "cold-blooded" killing.

If you have more than a passing interest in WWII sniping, Sniper On The Eastern Front is for you.




JohnWalker

The Few. The Proud.

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14th November 2004

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#10 12 years ago

Huh, I always knew sniper's had the 'dishonorable' reputation among Americans, but I figured the Germ's, with their continued sniping programs and all, felt different.