Sunday, 31 July 2011

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

World War I in this novel is seen through the eyes of a young German solider called Paul Baumer. Paul naively joins up along with a band of school friends with the encouragement of their teacher. He is sent to the front where he is quickly confronted with the realities of warfare in the trenches. His hardships are all detailed and include the lack of food, the filth and his friends joining the casualties as the war goes on. Paul hates and resents his situation but he copes, he copes with having to kill people, he copes seeing his friends die and in doing so he begins to change in himself. He eventually comes to the conclusion that he has essentially died inside.

This novel is devoid of politics and the bigger picture is never revealed, even the enemy themselves are often referred to as 'the ones over there' . The novel instead focuses solely on the humanity and the solider giving a honest vivid account on the torrents of war.

Don't run away with the idea that his book is depressing. Certainty its moving and dark in places, but the overall writing is very matter of fact and to the point leaving you with images or scenes that you are unlikely to ever forget.

Highly recommended.

Posted by Jess


  1. This is a twentieth-century masterpiece that everyone ought to read. I loved it, and have read it more than once. Truly an outstanding anti-war novel!

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

  2. I remember a scene when the hero goes back to visit his school while on leave and confronts one of his old professors. Doesn't he accuse him of lying about the reality of war? I always counted that as political, though you're right about the novel not going into a discussion about this particular war's political causes.

    It's a great book, in any case, I agree.

  3. This makes me excited to pick this one up. I didn't know much about it, but I like that it focuses more on the humanity than the big picture.

  4. Just a wonderful book about the First war - everyone should read it.

  5. I guess this is another one of those books I've always heard about and keep getting reminded I should read! That new cover is very striking too.

  6. I read this one earlier this year and it was incredibly moving. I felt distant from the characters, but I think that's because the character had to distance himself from his story and the trauma his was going through. Definitely a must read.

  7. Ooo I'm glad this sounds good. The book man at work gave me this for free for World Book Night. Yippee!!

  8. Judith yep totally agree :)

    C.B. James - I did think of that but then I thought to me it came across more that he was upset and angry for his friends rather than Germanys youth as a whole. Although if you count that as political then perhaps its just how I personally read it and what I personally consider political maybe? Unfortunately I dont have the book to hand otherwise I would re-read it with a different view and see if I read it differently.

    Allie - I hope you do like it, it'll certainly be one of the shorter easier ones on your list.

    Marion Husband - cant disagree with that :)

    mummazappa - I love the new cover. Its one of those that you must read before you die books.

    Melissa - I think your right, even that guy in the trench he immediately forgot about once he was removed from that situation, alot of things were at an arms distance for him.

    Relish - free books are the best ;) its a great one to be given.