Books: Up the Down Steppes

THE FORGOTTEN SOLDIER by Guy Safer. Translated from the French by Lily Emmet. 465 pages. Harper & Row. $8.95.

If the ultimate snobbery is the snobbery of pain, the ultimate snob may be the vanquished German soldier—Siegfried, in the agony of defeat, singing a prouder tenor than his enemies can manage in victory.

In the autumn of 1942, Guy Sajer, 16, the French-speaking son of a German mother, cockily double-timed into Russia to help recharge the Third Reich's blitzkrieg on the steppes. Less than two years later he staggered out half alive with the remnant...

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