All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front

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Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive.
"The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first trank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449213940
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/12/1987
Series: Book Notes Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 824
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.87(h) x 0.78(d)
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)

About the Author

Erich Maria Remarque, born Erich Paul Remark, was a German novelist who created many works about the terror of war. His best known novel is “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1928) which tells the tale of German soldiers in the First World War. This was followed by “The Road Back” (1931) and “The Three Comrades” (1936).

Maurice Del Bourgo has worked in American comic books since the 1940s and 1950s. He worked for many companies, like Avon, Ace Periodicals, Better Publications, Orbit Publications and Marvel, doing crime, western and romance titles. He worked on DC's 'Crimson Avenger' and 'Green Arrow', Hillman's 'Airboy' and 'Twilight'. Del Bourgo was also a productive artist for Gilberton's Classics Illustrated series. He contributed among others adaptations of Friedrich Schiller ('William Tell'), Ann S. Stephans ('Buffalo Bill'), Jack London and Alexandre Dumas.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction by Norman Stone
For some years after the end of the First World War the memoirs of generals and statesmen dominated publication about it – none more prominently than Churchill’s great classic, The World Crisis (1923). Then, quite suddenly, ten years down the line, came the other side, the horror, the view from below. The British had lost almost a million men dead, the French over a million, and the Germans nearly two, mainly on the Western Front, where thousands of guns churned up the mud. War cripples hobbled the streets of Berlin, and are recorded in the bitter Twenties paintings of Georg Grosz and Otto Dix. Writers followed – in Great Britain, amongst the earliest books were Richard Aldington’s novel Death of a Hero (1929) and Robert Graves’s memoir Goodbye to All That (1929), the most famous of them all. I was given it as a Christmas present when I was fifteen and read it at a session. At the time, the mid- Fifties, there were men around, not even sixty, who had gone through the Western Front but you could never get them to talk about it. British critics did not attack ‘the system’, they tended to dwell on the incompetence of the generals. The French had a rather similar experience, in that the from-below story of 1914-18 surfaced with Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s Voyage au bout de la nuit (1932), which is brilliant black farce. Celine, who had volunteered in 1912, entered the War with the usual young man’s patriotism, and was badly maimed at an early stage; and he made a mockery of the whole business. But there is not really any French, let alone British or American, equivalent of the bitterness and edge that went into the paintings of Dix and Grosz. Two films come the closest – Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) which started off as a musical (1963) by Joan Littlewood based on the songs of the poor bloody infantry, and Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957). On the literary side, the German Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1929) is in a class of its own. It appeared not long before the Wall Street Crash started a process that was soon to give Germany eight million unemployed, and the Chancellorship  of Adolf Hitler. Not just the Nazis banned it; so did the Lord Mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, a Centre Party Catholic and later first Chancellor of West Germany. Official Germany would not accept any responsibility for the War. In 1923 the legal scholar Hermann Kantorowicz put in a memorandum to the Reichstag ‘War Guilt’ committee, showing that three quarters of the published documents from 1914 were false, and even the ‘good German’ Gustav Stresemann tried to stop him from getting a Chair, and suppressed the report.
This is all understandable, because Germany did face a war indemnity, ‘reparations’, designed to cripple her for two generations, and to suggest that she had caused the War counted as treachery. But so did criticism of the army (and the fourteen-volume official history, besides being incomplete, was almost free of it). Exposing the reality was left to a writer such as Remarque.
For Germans the War had ended in defeat and disillusion. It had been a four-year epic of sacrifice, and there had been spectacular successes, from the capture of Russian Poland in 1915 through Caporetto in 1917, when the Italian front imploded, to the March Offensive of 1918, which destroyed the British Fifth Army. German generals had a panache lacking on the Allied side, almost to the end, and it is notable in All Quiet on the Western Front that there is very little criticism or mockery of generals, let alone officers, who come off well – understanding and humane. The Germans shot far fewer of their own men than did the British. When the armistice happened, attempts were made to imitate the Russian Revolution in which Soldiers’ Councils had challenged the authority of their officers. Far from being revolutionary, the German Soldiers’ Councils voted for Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg to be their overall president (he declined). Even so, some 25,000 German prisoners of war did join the Red Army. The end of the War saw bitter political recriminations: the Left blamed the Right for starting it, and the Right blamed the Left for stopping it, for giving the fighting troops a ‘stab in the back’. This civil war was always latent in the Weimar Republic, and it flared up again when the Wall Street Crash ended properly democratic government (in 1930: thereafter governments ruled by emergency decree). The civil war culminated in the victory, in 1933, of the Nazis. It also resulted in the emigration of Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet was one of the Nazis’ burned books.
Remarque was not a Communist or even, it seems, anything much. He was born (1898) into a skilled working-class family in Osnabruck, his father a printer, and attended Catholic schools. When he turned eighteen, in 1916, he was conscripted, and after some basic training (All Quiet is biting about that; the sadistic Corporal Himmelstoss is an archetype of military memoirs, where bright young men encounter maniacal and petty disciplinarians) he was drafted to Flanders. The British Offensive – we know it as Passchendaele, from the village the capture of which, after 400,000 casualties, allowed victory to be absurdly declared – was about to start, and Remarque was badly wounded on its first day, 31 July 1917, spending much of the rest of the War in hospital. He kept a notebook and recorded the men’s stories as he heard them. They form the basis for All Quiet.
There were two (at least) unique features of the Great War. For civilian conscripts, there was vast disillusion with everything that they had been taught by Authority; and then there was the sheer anonymity of the killing. Of Remarque’s class of twenty schoolboys in All Quiet, at least half get killed – the narrator, Paul Baumer, just a week or two before the armistice of November 1918 – five or more are wounded, and one ends up in a lunatic asylum. They are all caught up in the tremendous Materialschlachten, the industrial slaughter, that killed over nine million soldiers and maimed many, many more. This was an artillery war, and the guns multiplied in number, power and range; huge technical skill was involved (for instance, plotting by sound-range where, on a grid-map, an enemy gun was sited). Time and again, Remarque’s boys are knocked out by shelling. The ordeal involved is well-expounded in the last scene of Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong (1993) where the hero digs himself out of a great mound of mud and corpses, such as these heavy shells threw up. They, rather than the legendary machine-guns, caused three-quarters of the casualties. It is extraordinary that the generals started out with an assumption that this would be a war rather like that of 1870-71, between France and Prussia – infantry charging in clumps, bayonets outstretched, cavalry sweeping forward, and fortresses holding out bravely under siege; and of course there was the widespread illusion that the war would be short, an illusion spread as much by bankers and economists as by generals. But artillery could smash even the stoutest fortress, cavalry were helpless targets for modern rifles, and the French learned in August 1914 just how vulnerable their charging infantry clumps were to shrapnel. Remarque’s schoolboys were confronted almost at once with a war that they had not imagined. And they had also been let down by men in authority. When the war broke out, Germany was vilified for the invasion of neutral Belgium (Germans became ‘the Hun’ in the British press) and over 1,300 of the most prominent academics signed a pompous Intellektuelleneingabe – ‘petition of the intellectuals’ – associating the great names of German civilization with tub-thumping nationalist nonsense, instead of appreciating that the War was a sort of suicide. On a less exalted level, schoolteachers, the pride of Prussia, shovelled their sixth forms into uniform, as happened with Paul Baumer’s class. Once they were at the front, what were they to make of these maniacal schoolteachers who had filled their heads with such useless nonsense as French irregular verbs and the population of Melbourne? In All Quiet the hero wonders whether they ever could get back to normal, after the war, but they did – those who survived. Remarque himself knocked around for a few years, which included primary school teaching (often an essential booster-stage for something else), then, aged twenty-two, published a vaguely radical-right novel he soon wished he had not written, and drifted into sports journalism for a large media concern. Then, at thirty, he produced the work for which he is remembered. All Quiet on the Western Front became an international bestseller, and was snapped up by Hollywood for a record sum. Not surprisingly, like the early works of Graham Greene or Eric Ambler, who also thought cinematically, it made an excellent film. Early in the novel, Paul recalls the population-of-Melbourne maniac getting his seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds as a class to march down the street and volunteer in 1914. One of them, Josef Behm, under-age and overweight, does not want to go, attack, and we left him for dead . . . That afternoon we suddenly heard him shout out and saw him crawling around in no man’s land. He had only been knocked unconscious. Because he couldn’t see and was mad with pain he didn’t take cover, so he was shot down from the other side before anyone could get out to fetch him.’ (This colloquially rendered passage is characteristic of Professor Brian Murdoch’s excellently readable translation.) The War, which had started with cavalry and charging infantry, turned into a long artillery epic, and there are some splendid descriptions of bombardment (Allan Mallinson recalls that no man is an atheist under bombardment, but God – and clergymen – are missing from Remarque’s pages). One after another, the boys go. Second is Kemmerich, at first unaware, in hospital, that his leg has been amputated; there is some awkwardness among his visitors as to whether they should just take his special English airman’s soft-leather boots; Muller wants them, saying his own boots are so bad that even his blisters get blisters. The soldiers’ deaths are recorded intermittently, interspersed with bitter comments and dramatically described events of trench warfare. A failed French attack gives rise to the most memorable scene in the film, which sticks in my mind sixty years after seeing it. Baumer, on forward observation, takes shelter in a shell hole, and a French soldier stumbles in. Baumer’s instinctive reaction is to stab him, and the Frenchman takes hours to die, the German dressing his wounds, giving him water and talking to him even after he is finally dead. He looks into the man’s wallet to identify him, and finds letters from his wife, photographs of his children in a village somewhere. There are other scenes of fraternization, but they are with French girls. Remarque’s general idea is that it is all hellish and that the only sort of meaning to be found is in the cameraderie involved, as Paul and his friends find ways of dealing with rats or with the lack of decent food, or take revenge on the sadistic training corporal whom they encounter again at the front. The description of a fortnight’s home leave is particularly harrowing, as Baumer finds he has nothing to say to his father. And there are still old saloon-bar wiseacres, showering him with cigars, who tell him how the War should be won: ‘aber vor allem muss die gegnerische Front in Flandern durchbrochen und dann von oben aufgerollt werden’ – as if the Flanders front could easily be ‘broken through and then rolled up’.
The wiseacres hated the book, seeing it as an insult to the German army, and the Nazis put it about that Remarque – originally ‘Remark’ (he gave it a French twist: his forebears had been Remarques from across the border) – had in reverse been ‘Kramer’, a Jewish name meaning ‘pedlar’. They also made much of the fact that Remarque had not served in the front line. The irony was that Hitler himself, though he had two medals, did not really have a heroic war. We know from some extraordinary research by Thomas Weber (Hitler’s First War, 2010) that he was not a front-line soldier but a messenger who spent most of his time at headquarters – what other men called an Etappenschwein (‘rear-area pig’). In the British army it was called having a cushy job. Regimental colonels were sent bags of medals from time to time, for distribution, and Hitler got two of them because he was conveniently there, according to his own account, reading Schopenhauer from a pocketbook. Half of the veterans from his regiment, Bavarian Catholics,
refused to turn up when called upon to attend a reunion in 1934 to celebrate the victory of their alleged fellow-soldier, now Fuhrer. Remarque had already left Germany the day after Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933. He had easily enough money from royalties to live in Switzerland, and later in Hollywood and New York. He never lived in Germany again. The Nazis, in time, chased his poor sister, Elfriede Scholz, a dressmaker in Dresden. She was denounced by her landlady and a customer in 1943 for saying the war was lost, as indeed it was. An example was made of her, for Wehrkraftzersetzung (roughly, ‘demoralizing the armed forces’) and she was beheaded. After World War II Remarque remained in the USA, quite successful, though always best-known for All Quiet. In the 1950s he married the American actress Paulette Goddard, moved back to Switzerland, and died there in 1970. But All Quiet lives on, and deserves to.

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All Quiet on the Western Front 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 338 reviews.
kyuen1 More than 1 year ago
I first found this book in the library and didn't think much of it: a small, worn thing, bound in battered blue leather. Nothing but the faded gilt words of the title on the front. I vaguely remembered that there was a movie made about it, but I had no idea what the story was about. Little did I know, it turned out to be a deeply moving coming-of-age story, on par with The Catcher in the Rye and The Wars. It's the story of a twenty-year-old soldier, not much more than a boy, who struggles between his duty as a soldier and his own value for life, regardless of which side of the trenches it comes from. The novel is quietly poignant and at times devastating, with moments of beauty and horror that could only have been told by someone as an actual witness of that war. A true classic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very upset. Bought this copy for 2.99 and was excited to pay such a good price until I doscovered it only has the first 135 pages! What a ripoff. Wish I could get a refund...
Prince_Lillyan More than 1 year ago
I'm a sophomore in high school, and this was one of our required readings, and I just have to say that this book is amazing! It has various types of literary devices flowing through its pages, and the plot keeps you entangled within its words. It brings out every feeling in you and is a very good choice for a required reading, (if you're a teacher). Recommended to all, but more particularly, people that would like to experience the reality of war, the effects of war, and a fight between the myth of war and the real thing as the truth is revealed during your reading. Enjoy! :)
FredWoodrum More than 1 year ago
In my opinion All Quiet on the Western Front is a great book. It is one of the most popular war novels and I agree with people who say it's good. I am not a huge fan of reading unless it is an interesting book, and I can say this definitely is. This book kept me reading and I had a lot of fun with it. However, some people might find this book too violent. It is hard for me to get into a book unless it starts off interesting. This book did and I loved it from the start. I found myself not able to put it down at times. Erich Maria Remarque does a great job of painting a picture of the action-packed fighting scenes. He also takes us inside the minds of the soldiers and the reader can really understand how the characters feel. Another good thing about this book is it's realistic. It's not your average war story where one man is the hero and everything is easy. The main characters face many struggles. Seeing how they overcome these struggles makes this book fun to read. There also many themes in this book. The author focuses on the horror of war, and the effects it has on everybody's lives. I think this book is fun and there are important lessons to be learned from it. Some people might find this book too violent or graphic. In the fighting scenes, the author goes into great detail. He describes everything from the sights and sounds to the blood and gore. Some readers may not be big fans of this. For example, when the soldiers are camped out waiting for an enemy attack, the author describes the horrible conditions and talks about the sound and smell of dying men. In conclusion, I think this book is great. There are many different aspects that make this book enjoyable for a large audience. Some people may be turned off by the violence but other than that, they may find this book suitable. I definitely recommend it to anybody who wants a quick fun read, with important lessons to learn.
GuardianMom More than 1 year ago
This book is very powerful. We all know WW I was fought over 100 years ago but the ugliness of war still persist. Adults of loved ones coming home from war need to read this book because a soldier is not going to tell a civilian the true hell that they lived with and will carry with them forever. Maybe parents, brother/sister, boyfriend/girlfriend, fiances/spouse will realize the pre-soldier doesn't exists any more. The newly released soldier has memories, dreams, frights, and horrors that a civilian can not possibly understand. The post-soldier has many questions about himself as he did as a child, as young teen, as an older teen but society won't give him 15 years to figure it out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The single best war novel ever written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
War is idiocy, mostly entered into by those who will never witness it close up, its daily battles struggled through by those who had no say in whether it should have been started nor when and how it will end. I was a soldier who fought and was wounded, nearly killed, in a different war decades later. I was also an officer, but All Quiet tells my story and the story of the men in my platoon as well as it tells the story of the young German, Paul and his friends. As a soldier, you may begin your fight for your country, but once in combat, you fight for your friends and often find you have more in common with the "enemy" soldier than with the folks back home. This book should be required reading for every person in a position to forge a decision to go to war. Some circumstances may leave no other option, but reading this book should help make it clearer to those who decide to take a ecountry to war just what burden they are placing on the shoulders, hearts and minds of those who will live the battles, during the hell of the fighting and long after the bombs have stopped falling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A teacher of mine recommended me too read this book. At first I wasn't all excited to hear about it because it is a war novel and I'm not into these kind of books. However, after reading just the first chapter I was already hooked. As I began to read more of this book I started to get more interested. This book is very detailed in a lot of parts of the book. What I do love most is how easy it is to follow along and understand what is going on in the book. Even though this is a book about war it is not always based on fighting. Matter of fact you'll even crack a smile every once in a while. This book also got me motivated because how the main character holds him self. The author Erich Maria Remarque has written many good books but, this is by far one of the best. A Great book and would defiantly recommend to others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a soldier in the U.S. Army for 11 years now, with multiple deployments under my belt. As a veteran, this book left me with an overwhelming gratefulness for the fact that my wars have been comparatively easy. Furthermore, it reinforces the fact that soldiers are the same. Different sides, different wars, different times, but there is an undeniable sameness between us. The same lusts and fears, the same profanity and profoundness, the same humor and horror - and the same desperate hopelessness in trying to explain the experience to those that haven't had it for themselves. But most of all, I sympathized with the unavoidable change that military service brings about in a person. I won't go so far as to say that war leaves all soldiers "damaged" (like I said, my wars have been comparatively easy), but the change is inescapable and absolute.
PaqiPR More than 1 year ago
By telling this story in first person, present tense, Remarque achieves a great sense of intimacy. For me it has always been a "quiet" book. The emotions of Paul in the war (and out) seem true and timeless to me (and much better than Crane's The Red Badge of Courage), and the evocation of comradeship is beautiful. It is short and simple, and is one of my top ten all-time favorite books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
 Overall I feel pretty mixed about the book. I liked it but at the same time I did not. For every chapter there was always a golden nugget of a sentence or two that I had to break out my pen and underline for later pondering on and review.        One of the most distracting things about reading AQOTWF was the inconsistent tone I felt it gave off. It wasn't just chapter to chapter, it was event to event. I understand that each event in the book has it's own particular feel, whether it light-hearted and humorous or down right heart breaking. Even with that said, this was written as an autobiography, from Paul's perspective, and with that, I had assumed consistent personality and tonality. It may be just me, but it was bothersome as it messed with the flow at which I read this book.1 But this tone could have also been done on purpose to show Paul's instability in his life.        I did not feel any deep connection or overall sympathy to AQOTWF like I had felt With The Old Breed.2 I did try to tone down my expectations because of WTOB set the bar fairly high in my mind about what an autobiography on war should include.        Being from a German perspective didn't effect the story any. If AQOTWF had been written from any side at the time, not much would change. War is war. Soldiers of the time are all in a trench -different ones, but equally miserable.        All Quiet on the Western Front was a read I'm glad I read, but I am not blown away by the book that has claimed the title "The Greatest War Novel of All time".
Historyoholic More than 1 year ago
A recent radio piece mentioned "All Quiet on The Western Front" during a book review for "The Yellow Birds." I'd not yet read AQOTWF and so ordered both titles. AQOTWF proved one of the most powerful books I've read in my six decades, gripping and poignant beyond words. Having completed AQOTWF, I'm now engrossed in "The Yellow Birds." Both authors are combat veterans from the enlisted ranks. From wars six generations apart, they paint notably parallel portraits through soldiers' eyes, both on and away from the battlefield. One could argue that everyone should read both books, and re-read them at any time a nation considers waging war without having first been attacked.
smg5775 23 days ago
Wow! When I first read this in my freshman year of high school I hated it. Now what a story! The prose is so beautiful and powerful. I liked the first person point-of-view through Paul's eyes. I also like the stream of consciousness of Paul's thoughts on the war and war in general. He was so right about how the soldiers would not fit in after the war. His sentiments are as true today as they were then. Paul shows what a soldier goes through and how he can never talk about it to someone who has never fought in a war. Words cannot describe seeing all your friends die. Others cannot understand the horribleness of what the soldiers lived unless they have lived through battles, trenches, bombardments, snipers, gas attacks, the dirt and filth. This book is as timely today as in 1929 when it was published. We don't seem to have learned much during that time either as wars still continue. Toward the end of the book, Paul states that the factory owners got wealthier--how little things have changed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“You must fight for your Fatherland! You must not stand idle while your fellow countrymen die at the hands of the enemy! You will bring honor and glory to your name!” This is the story that young men from both sides were told by their elders to convince them to take up arms in the Great War. In Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul Bäumer and his classmates are told a similar story preceding their own enlistment into the German army. When he goes through training and is sent to the front, it feels as if the reader is Paul, himself, recounting the trauma he experiences, watching his brothers around him die, and being disillusioned to the cold reality of war. Remarque’s narrative is fiction, yet it doesn’t feel like fiction. The story he tells is not of romantic heroes charging the enemy line; it is a story that despite being, fiction, feels real and human. The Great War was anything but romantic, and Remarque captures this brilliantly. The reader sympathizes with Paul as questions and eventually rejects the loose justification for the war effort. The reader mourns with Paul when he realizes what he’s done after he instinctively murders a man for committing no crime but being French. As a fan of true-to-history war dramas in cinema, I very much enjoyed this piece of literature.
Trotsky731 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent anti-war book. Not the first or last but possibly the best.
Fliss88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a Classic Novel I know, but I just couldn't finish it. Got a third of the way, but found I wasn't wanting to get back to it, and would pick up anything else to read.
BooksForDinner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Horrifying. Chapter six was nearly impossible to read. I am not a war book guy, but this novel really hit me. A beautiful telling of how an entire generation of people were completely changed by a type of war no one could have ever imagined.
Whatnot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the most powerful war stories ever written, All Quiet on the Western Front is engrossing from the very beginning. It tells the story of Paul, a German soldier who enlists with his classmates to fight in the trenches during World War I. The book follows Paul and his friends as they are sent again and again to the front lines with only brief respites and small comforts. Convalescent leave after an injury is both a relief and a source of new pain, as the home he once knew now feels alien to him, and a soldier who is fit enough will be sent right back to the trenches. The story of the disillusionment that Paul and his comrades experience in a war that is steadily killing them both physically and emotionally forms a stunningly effective anti-war message. All Quiet on the Western Front is just as effective today as it was when it was first published, partly because the moral it conveys is not specific to a particular war, but can be applied to war in general. This is not Paul¿s war; it is his country¿s war. He has no personal fight with any of the enemy soldiers he might kill or be killed by. In other circumstances, they might have been friends. These are things which Paul must suppress. He cannot think of the men they are fighting against as men. He cannot ponder the meaning of the war, or the lack thereof. He must operate like an animal, instinctively, or the senselessness of the events will destroy him. It is this duality, the oscillation between man and war machine, which leads the novel to its powerful conclusion.
katiekrug on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿The war has ruined us for everything.¿ (page 87)I am a realist, both in everyday life and (as a former student of political science) in my thinking on international affairs, as well. So I don¿t buy into the whole ¿If only our leaders knew what war was like, there would be no more war¿ argument. There will always be war, plain and simple, like it or not. And some wars are good and useful (yes, I said it). So with all that out in the open, all I can say with regards to All Quiet on the Western Front is ¿Wow.¿I¿ve read other books about war (fiction and non-fiction), seen movies, talked with veterans, etc., etc., etc. But I have never experienced anything like this book. It is real and visceral and haunting and so beautiful. Remarque brings a poetic rhythm to his description of life in the trenches of World War I (the War to End All Wars ¿ HA!). He writes movingly of the sense of loss, of comradeship, of universality amid the everyday horror and terror."At once a new warmth flows through me. These voices, these quiet words, these footsteps in the trench behind me recall me at a bound from the terrible loneliness and fear of death by which I had been almost destroyed. They are more to me than life¿ they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere: they are the voices of my comrades. I am no longer a shuddering speck of existence, alone in the darkness; I belong to them and they to me; we all share the same fear and same life, we are nearer than lovers, in a simpler, a harder way; I could bury my face in them, in these voices, these words that have saved me and will stand by me.¿ (page 212)The narrator, a 20-year old German soldier, leads us through life at war ¿ the stretches of boredom punctuated by intense fear during an attack, the hunger and deprivation, the pain of bullets and shrapnel and gas, the reality of death and suffering, the discomfort and alienation at going home, the sense after a while, that the only place one will ever belong and feel right is at the front. Remarque is strongest when describing the narrator¿s growing sense of futility and common cause with all the young men of his generation, whether friend or foe. The war connects them in ways no one else could understand though they may stand on opposite sides.The novel is full of dichotomous passages that use beautiful prose to describe unspeakable things:¿No longer do we lie helpless, waiting on the scaffold, we can destroy and kill, to save ourselves, to save ourselves and to be revenged. We crouch behind every corner, behind every barrier of barbed wire, and hurl heaps of explosives at the feet of the advancing enemy before we run. The blast of the hand-grenades impinges powerfully on our arms and legs; crouching like cats we run on, overwhelmed by this wave that bears us along, that fills us with ferocity, turns us into thugs, into murderers, into God only knows what devils; this wave that multiplies our strength with fear and madness and greed of life, seeking and fighting for nothing but our deliverance.¿ (page 114)An elegiac, haunting testament to the horror of war that deserves to be read, pondered and re-read even if it changes nothing.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿All Quiet on the Western Front¿ is a standard in anti-war fiction, describing the horrors and idiocy of war from the perspective of an author who knew what the hell he was talking about. Remarque was a German veteran of World War I who at the age of 19 was wounded severely in combat along the Western Front. What sets this book apart is his insight into the psychological damage done to the young soldiers - the disillusionment, extreme stress, and social detachment, which I like to think of as the war within. This book is emblematic of the ¿lost generation¿, the one that came of age during WWI, and its truth and message was so compelling that the Nazis banned and publicly burned the book as they geared up their war machine for WWII. Perhaps the entire book can be summarized by this quote towards the end, which I love:¿And this is only one hospital, one single station; there are hundreds of thousands in Germany, hundreds of thousands in France, hundreds of thousands in Russia. How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must all be lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture-chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is.I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another. I see that the keenest brains of the world invent weapons and words to make it yet more refined and enduring. And all men of my age, here and over there, throughout the whole world see these things; all my generation is experiencing these things with me.¿But here are some others as well:On bravery:¿There was, indeed, one of us who hesitated and did not want to fall into line. That was Joseph Behm, a plump, homely fellow. But he did allow himself to be persuaded, otherwise he would have been ostracized. And perhaps more of us thought as he did, but no one could very well stand out, because at that time even one¿s parents were ready with the word `coward¿; no one had the vaguest idea what we were in for. The wisest were just the poor and simple people. They knew the war to be a misfortune, whereas those were better off, and should have been able to see more clearly what the consequences would be, were beside themselves with joy.¿On disillusionment:¿And that is why they let us down so badly.For us lads of eighteen they ought to have been mediators and guides to the world of maturity, the world of work, of duty, of culture, of progress ¿ to the future. We often made fun of them and played jokes on them, but in our hearts we trusted them. The idea of authority, which they represented, was associated in our minds with a greater insight and a more humane wisdom. But the first death we saw shattered this belief. We had to recognize that our generation was more to be trusted than theirs.¿We loved our country as much as they; we went courageously into every action; but also we distinguished the false from true, we had suddenly learned to see. And we saw that there was nothing of their world left. We were all at once terribly alone; and alone we must see it through.¿On education:¿¿What is meant by Cohesion?¿We remember mighty little of all that rubbish. Anyway, it has never been the slightest use to us. At school nobody ever taught us how to light a cigarette in a storm of rain, nor how a fire could be made with wet wood ¿ nor that it is best to stick a bayonet in the belly because there it doesn¿t get jammed, as it does in the ribs.¿On war:¿Kropp on the other hand is a thinker. He proposes that a declaration of war should be kind of popular festival with entrance-tickets and bands, like a bull fight. Then in the arena the ministers and generals of the tw
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Throughout All Quiet on the Western Front there is the theme of a lost innocence. Soldiers as young as 18 or 19 reflect on a childhood lost. The main character of Paul Baumer is constantly thinking about how, if he were to survive the war, he could never relate to the peacetime world around him. He scoffs at the word "peace." I saw All Quiet as a commentary on survival in its purest form. Doing anything and everything you can to live another day. When one soldier is obviously on death's door another wants his boots and starts planning a strategy to get them...even before the dying man has drawn his last breath. This is not callousness personified. This is survival. He knows the boots are of no use to the dying soldier. They would be to him, if only he could get them before someone else does. Ironically, the boots are later passed along to Paul eventually.Another aspect of Remarque's work that bears mentioning is the detail he pays to describing death. While the images are unforgiving, violent and grotesque, it is war in its truest state and at its worst. Some of the images that stuck with me: a butterfly flitting around a field of dead men and finally settling to rest on the teeth of a corpse; a screaming horse that can't be put out of his misery because he will reveal the hiding place of the soldiers.
Kira_The_Luckdragon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have a very serious love hate relationship with this book. My thoughts and feelings for this book changes by the who I read it as. Reading as a history student I love it because the insight and details are amazing. However, as a typical reader who enjoys the occasional book I absolutely hated this book. The information was pointless and bored me to tears.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What can I say to do justice to this book? The cover blurb calls this "The Greatest War Novel of All Time." It's certainly the best that I've ever read. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the other war stories I've read haven't used All Quiet as part of their research. It's an account of World War I, as seen through the experiences of Paul Bäumer, a young German man serving in France--the "Western front" to the German army. Through his eyes we see the brutality, absurdity, sorrow and community of war. At times Paul reflects on his experiences, noting how they have essentially shredded his former life as a student and may have killed his future. Other times he holds such reflections at bay and, for the sake of his sanity, focuses on the moment and the ongoing task of staying alive. It's a book full of despair and sorrow, yet it also contains moments of love and humor. It is very much a tale that's real, which, I suppose, also makes it more tragic. If only this was a dark fantasy that exists only in the writer's imagination.--J.
perfectleft on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
goes to show that no matter how well the futility of war is articulated there's a numbskull or death skull waiting in the wings. beautiful and tragic.
kymmayfield on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a required reading in eleventh grade for me. I have to say I wasn't sure about it. But I was pleasantly surprised by it. Paul Baumer and his classmates enlist in this service for WW1 and even though they thought they knew what they were up against and were prepared for it. They break amongst the fighting and vow to fight with their principles against hate. I rated this book at 4 out 5. Defiantly a must read because its an eyeopener.