Review updated on 4/1/2016.
A simple Czech person Svejk became a soldier in Austro-Hungarian Army in the beginning of World War I.
His way to become one was anything but straight: despite his wholehearted attempts to enlist the moment he heard about the war, he kept stumbling from one absurd situation into another ending up literally everywhere except
for the Army. When he finally gets there, even more ridiculous situations keep happening to him thanks to the military life which defies common sense most of the time.
This is a satirical book which manages to be a humor book as well. The humor part is really great: the book was written almost one hundred years ago, and it is still funny; I laughed really hard while reading the book, and I think the scene where Svejk brings drunk chaplain home has got to be one of the funniest one in the literature.
Now comes the satirical part: at the first glance it looks like Svejk is a complete idiot. Actually I take it back: it would be an insult to the people with this mental deficiency to call him that; Svejk is way past this point. Once you stop and think about what happens in the book, it turns out he actually always prevails over the huge and baroque bureaucratic machine of the military and civil live of pre-war Central Europe. His behavior can be considered a mockery of this machine: Svejk is a little guy caught in there, but he wins all the time: no matter how idiotic and bizarre his actions are, even bigger idiocy of bureaucracy makes him a winner.
I read this book after my military service, it added to the fun in reading when I realized not much has changed in the military since World War I; the bureaucratic organization of the military is still
there and most of the reasons we start modern wars are still
I also strongly suggest reading about the author of this book Jaroslav Hašek.
His life was anything but common. Sadly he died before finishing the book, but the story has a feeling of being finished nonetheless. It would probably not be an exaggeration to call this novel to be the best satire on the World War I.