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Sven Hardin was a Swedish professor, writer, illustrator, adventurer and also a renowned Germano-phile. On the outbreak of the Great War he requested, and was given, complete unrestricted access to visit the German armies fighting in France and Belgium. As a trusted neutral with a strong academic reputation he spent a remarkable amount of time with the German leadership including most of the Corps commanders in the field and was even granted an audience with Kaiser Wilhem II. The resulting book, With the German Armies in the West, was quickly finished and published, originally in Swedish in 1914, then swiftly translated into English in early 1915.