Review-All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Link for the book:
www.ballantinebooks.com an imprint of Random House Publishing Group
YouTube video of the movie from 1930:
This book was bought by me for the purpose of reading/reviewing.
I'd heard of this book, but had never read this book until this week.
All Quiet On The Western Front is labeled on the front cover of my copy as The Greatest War Novel of All Time. I don't know who gave this book that label; since 1929 when this book was published many other war books and memoirs have been written. I do agree that it is a great book, not great in the sense that you feel uplifted and joyous when you complete the book. It is a great book in that you do not forget the content, you do not forget the despair and bleak horrors of war. The narrator and main character is Paul Baumer, he is a 19 year old German soldier during World War I. The story was first published in a newspaper in 1928, the book was published in January of 1929. The German title is Im Westen nichts Neves. During the Nazi occupation of Germany the book was banned and burned. It sold 2.5 million copies in 25 languages in the first 18 months it was published. During World War I there were 1 million 8 hundred and 8 thousand German soldiers that died. This does not count how many lost a limb, or were gassed, or had other injuries, nor those that were prisoners.
My paternal grandfather was a soldier in World War I, he arrived near the end of the war. He died when I was 8 months old, we have no information about his memories of this time. I have his draft and discharge papers, and his dog tags.
My husbands maternal grandfather was also in World War I, he was in for the duration of the American involvement in the war. He lived to be an old man and suffered the rest of his life from gas exposure.
I know little about World War I, I do feel after having read this book (of course from the voice of a German soldier) I feel a little more knowledgeable about this war. Now for the review of
All Quiet On The Western Front.
Paul Baumer is 19 as is several of his comrades and soldiers. Many of them knew each other as boys, they swam together and played together. They are now no longer exuberant and innocent youths, they are hardened soldiers that have experienced the nightmares of a war they do not want to be apart of. There is a part in the book and also in the above YouTube video, where one of the soldiers said that the generals and the other superiors should have to fight this war themselves and leave us be. I wondered how many other military men and women throughout the countless generations have thought the same thing? War is not a romantic gung-ho camp-out. It is something that even those that have experienced cannot adequately put in to words. Paul writes of what they eat, how they re-use the boots from their fallen comrades, the descriptions of battle, the soldiers that suffer shell shock, and the fear of how they will die.
Paul describes his leave, he was able to travel back to his home. Home though is not how he left it, he feels a stranger, he feels detached from his family and friends. He writes of those at home that ask inappropriate questions, and those that are sullenly quiet wanting to ask questions. He worries for his mother that is worried for him. He visits a fallen friends mother and the experience of this is nearly more than he can take.
This book was written with the raw experience of a man that did fight in this war. The words that he must have painfully chosen to describe the events of war is astonishing to me. It is astonishing in that the reader is there (or nearly there). We are not given a dim shadow of combat, but a graphic horrific scene to be displayed in our mind.
This book is considered by the writer to be a tribute to all of those who did fight in this war. He has written a more than adequate portrayal, he has written an account that leaves the reader breathless and taut with anguish.
There is a publishing error in the listing of the chapters. Chapters are displayed correctly 1-10, then it is listed chapter 3 again and chapter 4 again, then we jump to chapter 11.
If you have an interest in war books this should absolutely be read!
An interesting video I've found about World War I from Britannica.
I wonder if this book is still read in high school or college? It should be.