Soldier in Germany

James Snyder

Publisher: Bandera Publishing Pages: 359 Price: (ebook) $4.99 ISBN: 9798990153219 Reviewed: April, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Soldier in Germany follows American serviceman Christopher Adams’ experiences in 1970s Germany during the height of the Cold War.

After barely surviving Vietnam, and with little desire to return home, Air Force sergeant Chris takes a posting in Germany, joining the ranks of U.S. servicemen carrying out military readiness preparations as threat of nuclear war with the Soviets seems imminent. Although he’s a soldier, Chris has the makings of a writer, and he sees the world in lyrical terms. The ambiance of Cold War Germany feels strongly authentic as readers discover it through his eyes.

Events unfold slowly, focusing on Chris’s experiences, including growing close to his German landlords, getting too close to riots at Frankfurt University and having an accidental encounter with neo-Nazis.

About one-third of the way through the story, Chris meets Nikki, a young actress and model, to whom he’s deeply attracted. As their relationship blossoms, the focus moves away from world events and history, and the novel becomes a love story between two people from very different worlds. Nikki’s life appears glamorous, but her mother and stepfather are manipulative and destructive influences in her life, and tragedy beckons.

The story is at its strongest when Nikki and Chris are together: two damaged characters understanding and misunderstanding each other’s needs and feelings. Nikki’s mother has an interesting backstory, and, in the final third of the book, the pace picks up considerably, arguably to the point that key events are too hurried.

The storytelling at times feels off balance, with the novel’s tone swinging from slow and contemplative to rushed and violent. Disturbing episodes, including an honor killing, rape, forced prostitution and murder, are jarring in juxtaposition to Chris’ lyrical descriptions and introspection. The issue makes for an uneven read.

Still, this emotional love story set against a Cold War background could hold appeal for readers who enjoy a slow burn.

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