The Bloody Road to DeathChapter by chapter - Book covers - Other languages - Quotes
Introduction to The Bloody Road to Death
The Bloody Road To Death must be the funniest of all Sven's novels (and it's definately the one I would make into a film if I had any choice about such things). It's set in Greece mainly but they do get back to Russia by the end.
It has three major chapters one after the other:- The Fleas (Porta's flea ridden furs and their path through the regiment etc), Escort Duty (Tiny and Porta on a wild trip through Europe) and Darjeeling Tea (Porta and Wolf and their black market tea dealing). It's almost incidental that there's a war on. Fantastic stuff.
The book is dedicated to "My battalion commander and friend, now
a General in the West German Armoured Corps, Horst Scheibert.
The Bloody Road to Death chapter by chapter:
1. The Cactus Forest:
In Greece fighting partisans. Buffalo explains how he's come to be his own grandfather! Fighting through cactus. More stories from Gregor Martin about his general. Discipline for a feldwebel who steals water from the others. Porta gives a long description of methods for cooking snipe and hare.
2. The Fleas
Story of Porta's furs (which are flea ridden) and their progress through the regiment till they get to Chief Mechanic Wolf. Wolf's revenge and private war with Porta and the section. Porta's bomb.
3. Escort Duty
Tiny and Porta escort prisoner Carl to Germersheim. Lots of adventures along the way through Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania (wonderful restaurant scene), Hungary, Austria, Bavaria and Germany.
4. Darjeeling Tea
Tiny baits the Company Sergeant Major and commanding officer by acting the idiot. Wolf and Hauptfeldwebel Blatz have a run in. Wolf and Porta spend some time negotiating. Porta picks up the bear named Rasputin. The dreaded 'Darjeeling tea with a bit of green' is passed around.
5. Demon Heights
Lots of good battle descriptions. Exchange of abuse between Tiny and Porta and the Russian trenches. Description of front line sentry duty.
6. The Commissar
Mission behind the lines to kidnap an ex-German Commissar who has tortured German prisoners.
7. . Was It Murder?
Front line visits by Hauptfeldwebel Blatz and Hauptman von Pader.
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The Bloody Road to Death in other languages
Selected quotes from The Bloody Road to Death
"Are those furs yours?" asks the padre carefully.
"Yes, Herr Uberfeldkappellan," answers Porta, saluting stifly.
The padre passes his long, thin fingers gently over the furs and thinks what a beautiful saddle cloth they would make.
His horse stares at Porta, who stares back at it with the calculating mien of a born horse-dealer.
"You'd cut up into some lovely steaks," he thinks, and works out in his head how much the horse would bring in, properly butchered, at the Corinth meat market.
"Those are very beautiful furs," the padre praises them devoutly. "I have never seen their like!"
"Yes, they're Swedish," says Porta with emphasis.
"Swedish goods are quality goods," smiles the military spiritual adviser, bending forwards over his horse's neck. "Where did our good obergefreiter obtain these lovely furs?"
"My Herr Oberst gave them to me. He got them from a fur farm in Finland," explains Porta, with wide, innocent eyes.
"So your oberst has a fur farm in Finland?" The padre's native suspicions have been awakened. For a moment he looks inquisitively at the tall, thin obergefreiter in front of him. "I thought you said the furs were Swedish?"
"Beg pardon, sir, these furs are from the Swedish-speaking part of Finland, which they call Nyeland up there."
"But how has your oberst come to own a fur farm in Finland?"
"Begging your pardon, sir, my oberst's mother is one of the great daughters of Finland," Porta looks up at the padre with an expression of such foolish good-will on his face that it would be enough to make even the most hardboiled NKVD prison guard break into tears.
"She is 6 feet 2 inches tall," he adds, after a short pause, sighing audibly.
"Chief Mechanic Wolf, you are the long-lost son of a five mark whore, and as such we'll push your nipples out through your back with bullets first chance we get," promises Porta, solemly.
"All right you shiteating shower! The real war starts now for you lot," roars Wolf, slapping his Mpi. "I'm going to take you out one by one!"
"If your mother was an invalid then you're a motherfucker, Wolf!" shouts Porta, spitting out of the window.
"Everybody knows why you never get leave," shouts Gregor triumphantly. "You've worn your five sisters' cunts out!"