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Cross of Iron

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  318 ratings  ·  22 reviews
CROSS OF IRON is the thrilling story of a German platoon cut off far behind Russian lines in the second half of World War II. A resourceful and cynical commander somehow manages to coax his men through the bitter hand-to-hand fighting in forests, trenches and city streets until eventually they regain the German lines. But safety is only temporary. After the tension of wait ...more
Paperback, Cassell Military Classics, 478 pages
Published August 1st 1999 by Cassell Academic (first published 1955)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 711)
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Jo
“We’re all the same here, he told himself; a handful of life trying to preserve itself like the candle light in the bunkers, a bundle of duties in uniform, feeling and thinking like human beings, but trained to act like automatons.”

Well, I honestly don’t know what to say about this book.
To say reading it was a bit of a slog would be doing it a great disservice and one that would be unfair.
So, because I’m a crazy kid and whatnot, I’m going to split this book into two.
Not the review.
No no.
The a
...more
Li'l Vishnu
Jan 22, 2014 Li'l Vishnu is currently reading it
Well, a couple days ago my 80-year-old German neighbor gave me a shredded old hardback copy of this book. This guy fought with the Nazis when he was seventeen. His distaste for the Poles is still palpable, as they acquired his hometown. Now he sells stamps on eBay. His wife was living just outside Dresden when the city was bombed.

Anyway, he riffled through his shelves and brought out this book and said, "You want to know what it was like? Read this. It's all in there. The things humans will do t
...more
Michael
I've read this book 3X and it is one of my top 10 favorite books! This is an Anti-war novel based upon the author's actual experiences fighting in the German Wermacht on the Russian Front during the waning days of WWII. Cpl Steiner (busted from sgt) is a tough, seasoned non-com known for his insubordination (and hatred of officers), but also for his fighting prowess and ability to keep himself and his men alive on even the most dangerous reconaissance missions.
He leads a platoon that has been g
...more
Brian
The basis of Sam Peckinpah's movie of the same name, which Orson Welles said was one of the best anti-war movies he ever saw and the only war movie Peckinpah ever made because he felt it said everything he needed to say about war, this was written by a German veteran of the Russian front. So for an American reader it's interesting to find yourself dealing with such a protagonist. However, this is not about Nazism, but about survival in combat and the bonds within a platoon.

The translation was g
...more
Jesse Kraai
Nov 19, 2014 Jesse Kraai rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jesse by: Das Boot
Shelves: wwii, 1950s
This book could have been so much better.

It took me about three weeks to get the book from Germany, that's how bad I wanted it. Inspired by Das Boot, I wanted fiction to be the place where we need to examine our traumas and most formative experiences. If we push it, if we're gruendlich, something amazing will find its way to the page. And I wanted the Eastern Front.

Many other reviewers have noted how awful Heinrich's luandry-list style is: 'he moved his leg, then he touched his lip, then he look
...more
Rob Kitchin
Cross of Iron is considered one of the classic combat novels about the Eastern Front in World War Two. First published in 1955 (German) and translated in 1956, it is written by Willi Heinrich, who served with the 101st Jäger Division from 1941-45 and was wounded five times. The 101st Jäger Division took part in the Battle for Kharkov and Caucasus campaign, then after the defeat at Stalingrad retreated along the Kuban peninsula toward Crimea, up into Ukraine, through Slovakia, Hungary and ending ...more
Zatoichi Kage
I used to own a first edition of this book which I'd read many times, but recently removed it from my library. The book has repetitive, shallow plot lines and doesn't have much to say about war. War is bad.

On my latest reading, I started to wonder if some of the weak dialog was a problem with the translation from German.

Sorry, can't recommend this one...

On the other hand I highly recommend the film directed by Sam Peckinpah, featuring James Coburn, James Mason and Maximilian Schell.
Graeme Shimmin
I liked this a lot.

It's a long novel and fairly slow in places. The opening section of the novel, where Steiner and his platoon are trapped behind enemy lines and sneak back, encountering an all-female Russian unit on the way, is probably the strongest of the novel and could even have been a a stand-alone novella.

The description of the action feels very true to real life:
- There are a lot of characters, some of which appear and disappear again very quickly. In a less realistic novel they would
...more
Mary
This one is a re-read but the first reading was a long time ago.

Another one that's been hanging around the 'to read' pile with intent. So I decided it was to come on holiday with me. I didn't read half as much whilst away as I meant to but I did get into this book.

As well as having read the book I'd also seen the film. My incredible sieve of a memory had left me with only a vague memory of events. I found the writing style took a little time to get into but not enough to put me off. It's a fasci
...more
carl  theaker


Some embrace 'Catcher in the Rye' for their rite of passage novel,
others, Willi Heinrich's 'Cross of Iron'.

Reeling on the Russian front the German Army relies on the NCO to
hold the fighting unit together. Protagonist Steiner is everything
that it takes, resourceful, courageous, reliable, except he has
this rebellious streak in which he possesses this certain dislike
of authority, especially for those officers who will get you killed
for their false glory.

Although Heinrich followed this work up with
...more
Patrick Baird
Willi Heinrich's "Cross of Iron" reads like a hard-boiled update of "All's Quiet on the Western Front," and that WW1 masterpiece was plenty tough to begin with. Both books follow a small group of German soldiers through battle, life in the trenches, and the insanity of war. But "Cross of Iron" substitutes the innocent, youthful protagonist of the earlier work with the steely, iconic Sergeant Steiner and that makes it a superior work, in my estimation.

Originally published as "Das Geduldige Fleisc
...more
Kym Andrew Robinson
I grew up as a child watching the film which was inspired by this book, so I immediately fell into the trap while reading this book years later as a teen attempting to over lap the two stories. I am a fan of both the film and the book and while they are in some ways the same story they certainly differ.

The story feels authentic, perhaps in part due to the authors own experiences in the Hell that was the Eastern Front.

The book is a strong narrative and really allows you to slip into the helpless
...more
Curt Lorde
Millions, serving opposing blood mad sociopaths, slaughtered each other in a war that has left its mark for good and ill, on this planet. The Naked and the Dead, From Here To Eternity,and The Thin Red Line deglorified the American effort. But winners can tell any story they want. The author endured the actuality of the running joke on 'Hogan's Heroes. The German officers like von Manstein who wrote their autobiographys about their experiences in Russia belonged to the class the protagonist Stein ...more
gargamelscat
I remember really liking 'The Savage Mountain' when I read it in my early 20s and the film is interestingly strange.

The novel itself was a bit of a mixed bag - stilted dialog and philosophical discursions with an interesting story set in an interesting time. But it didn't exhibit the kind of pathos that makes these things stand out (like Guy Sajer's The Forgotten Soldier or 'All Quiet on the Western Front').

But I will revisit 'The Savage Mountain' at some point in the future.
Seamus Mcduff
I wanted to like this and thought I would enjoy it more.
I found the writing style poor and clunky; the characters one dimensional and hackneyed. The hero, Steiner, is some sort of Wehrmacht Rambo who is hard to believe in and even harder to like.
To anyone who has read any well-written literature this will be hard to read. Even as an action/adventure novel I thought it dragged and wasn't very engaging.
I'm sure there are much better titles of this ilk out there.
Jo
It sounded interesting from the blurb on the back, but this book never really goes anywhere.
Plod, plod, from one thing to the next. Very dull.
Probably very much how war really is, but it does not make a good story.
Thompson
An interesting read about a German platoon fighting on the Eastern Front of WW2. There are two conflicts going on, German v. Russian and a German Cross of Iron recipient v. an incompetent German wanna be.
Charles
Another military story from Heinrich. An excellent book, told from the perspective of the German soldier in World War II. Heinrich fought in Russia during that war and writes with superb authenticity.
Stephen Clarke
Excellent war time novel with a excellent portrayal of what life must have been like for German soldiers on the Eastern front. I found it engrossing and hard to put down.
Graf
Heinrich's book is so well-crafted that you can practically feel the blistering cold and sheer terror of the eastern front. A gritty and sobering tale.
Alan
Aug 02, 2010 Alan added it
In English language,translated from German,fiction,novel,military fiction,historical fiction,WWII,war fiction
Thomas Hamilton
This is perhaps the best fiction of World War 2 on the Eastern Front.
Judy
Judy marked it as to-read
Dec 16, 2014
JSK
JSK added it
Dec 15, 2014
Lee Perkins
Lee Perkins marked it as to-read
Dec 15, 2014
Robert Bodenhemier
Robert Bodenhemier marked it as to-read
Dec 14, 2014
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Willi Heinrich was born in Heidelberg, and during the Second World War he experienced heavy fighting on the Eastern Front with the 1st Battalion 228th Jäger Regiment of the 101st Jäger Division. The same infantry unit featured in Das Geduldige Fleisch (The Willing Flesh; Cross of Iron).
During the war the 101st Jäger Division sustained a seven hundred per cent casualty rate; Heinrich himself was w
...more
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