Rigoni Stern writes about a long time forgotten episode of World War II: the long return from Russia and Ucraina of the Italian troops through a hostile, cold and unknown land. Thousands of kilometres by feet, in the snow, on winter.
All the soldiers were badly equipped and scared, moreover they were constantly attacked by both, Russians and Germans, the last ones looked at them like deserters. Most of the Italians died during the march and their bodies were often simply left behind by their comrades. The frozen Russian ground was too hard to dig.
Rigoni Stern was a sergeant of this desperate infantry. In his capacities as a commander he tried to save his soldiers telling them words of strength and courage, without so much success.
Reading at the plot and thinking that it is a true story and a dramatic one, someone may wonder why I haven't appreciated it that much. Well, the problem with "The Sergeant in the Snow", as for me, is that it looks partially unrealistic.
I mean, how could be possible that Mario Rigoni Stern remembers so clearly, word by word, any single battle he has fought in, any single order he has given, any single decision he has taken? I hardly doubt that he has written notes during the long winter march, so my sensation has been that real events have been fictioned a lot.
Furthermore reading at the book I've found plenty of too much detailed descriptions of military actions instead of reflections about the meaning of life, the stupidity of war and so on. This has disappointed me a lot. The Sergeant in the Snow has more to share with a Risiko! game than with one of the worst massacres of World War II.