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March 21, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE DIARY OF A NAPOLEONIC FOOT SOLDIER by Jakob Walter, edited and with an introduction by Marc Raeff (Penguin: $10; 170 pp., illustrated). Jakob Walter was an 18-year-old German stonemason in 1806, when he was conscripted into Napoleon's Grande Armee: He was among the estimated 600,000 men who invaded Russia in 1812--and one of perhaps 25,000 who survived that disastrous campaign. His journal offers an intriguing view from the trenches that suggests the common soldier of the Napoleonic era had little interest in politics or the grandiose aims of the war. Walter's attention remained fixed on the mundane problems that concern soldiers in all wars--mud, fleas, food, drink, sleep and, above all, survival.

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