the guardian Fri 19 September 2008
Every harassed negotiator, every beleaguered political wife and anyone given to ever-increasing moments of melancholy at the way things are should keep a copy of Hasek's classic "don't let the bastards get you down" novel to hand. It's anti-war, anti-establishment, anti-religion and - praise indeed - even funnier than Catch-22. Joseph Heller based his hero Yossarian on Svejk. Hasek, born in Bohemia in 1883, based the irrepressible Svejk's career in the first world war on his own rackety life. Horovitch's multi-voiced, multi-accented reading of the hotchpotch of characters is brilliant: dotty major-generals, hard-drinking priests, lecherous officers and, of course, the good soldier himself, beginning every exchange with "Beg to report, sir . . ." - that he joined the enemy by mistake, missed his train, lost his way, issued the officers with the wrong cipher book (part 1 of Ludwig Ganghofer's The Sins of the Fathers instead of part 2), and so on. Give it five minutes, you'll be hooked.